Cabaret License

A cabaret license can be issued to any establishment licensed to sell alcohol which offers or provides live entertainment or dancing for its guests. Live entertainment includes karaoke music or entertainment offered by a disc jockey. 

How to Submit an Application

There are a variety of ways that you can submit your New or Renewal application to the Department of Excise and Licenses. If renewing, please make sure to include your Business File Number (BFN) with the submittal.

  1. In an effort to protect public safety, in-person customer service at Excise and Licenses is being offered by appointment only. Please visit our appointments website to make an appointment. 
  2. All license applications not available online can be submitted via email,, during this health crisis. When submitting your email application, please attach all documents pertaining to your license application to ONE email. Please visit our email application process page for more information on submitting email applications.
  3. You may also mail in your application with fees to:

City and County of Denver
Department of Excise and License
201 W Colfax Ave, Dept. 206
Denver, CO 80202

Make checks payable to: Manager of Finance

You may also pay for your applications online or via phone once you have submitted your application to Excise and Licenses. We will send you an invoice and you may pay virtually. Please visit our online payment process page for more information on how to submit payment for your applications.

For questions, please email or call 311.

How to Get a Cabaret License

Step 1: Determine the Type of Cabaret License


  • Standard – Live entertainment – no adult entertainment, no patron dancing
  • Acoustic – Unamplified live entertainment, no patron dancing
  • Dance – Live or recorded entertainment and patron dancing, no adult entertainment
  • Special Dance - Live or recorded entertainment and patron dancing – Entertainment is confined to the interior of the building or located upon the licensed premises as defined in the Colorado Liquor Code. Acoustic (unamplified) live entertainment or recorded entertainment and patron dancing may be provided beyond the interior of the building; but no live entertainment shall be provided beyond the interior after 8:00 p.m.
  • Event Center – Seating capacity for at least 2,000, live or recorded entertainment and patron dancing, no adult entertainment
  • Adult Cabaret – Adult entertainment is provided in addition to the entertainment included in the Dance Cabaret
  • Special Event – A one-time or limited event that includes entertainment, a separate permit is issued.
  • Underage Patrons - Allows cabaret licensees to apply for an underage patrons license to allow patrons 16 years of age and older to gain entry into and participate in standard, dance, special dance, acoustic, or event center cabaret licensed establishment.


Step 2: Zone Use Permit

A Zone User Permit is required before submitting a liquor application.

A use permit is a document granting the applicant/owner of a lot, building, or structure permission for the requested use of the land. "Use" can be defined as any activity, occupation, business or operation transacted in a building or on a lot/tract of land.

You can use the resources on the Internet to plan ahead before you lease or buy property and before you apply for your business license.  Follow the steps below to learn more about the approved zone uses for the address where you want to locate your business.  Start on the  Find Your Zoning page.

  1. Enter the desired address.  Click Search.
  2. Note the Zone District.
  3. Click on the + to Expand for more information. 
  4. Note the Neighborhood Context.
  5. Click on the link for the Zoning Code or in Former Chapter 59.
  6. Click on the Article # for the Neighborhood Context noted above.
  7. Open the document and scroll to the "Use" tables at the bottom of the document.
  8. Find the "Use" category in the left column and the Zone District in the columns to the right.
  9. The code in the intersecting square represents the permitted use.  (There is a key to the codes at the top of every page.)

Ultimately, the zone use permit for your business license must be approved and issued by the Zoning department.  Learn more about the Denver Zoning Code or visit the Zoning Office.


Applying for a Zone Use Permit


Zoning Contact Information



Step 3: Required Documents

Application forms and business entity documents are required for the applications process.  All documents must be submitted in duplicate – one copy for the City of Denver and the original copy for the Sate of Colorado.  Documents must be printed in black ink or typewritten.  Photocopies are accepted. 

NOTE:  Information that has been supplied in a simultaneous application for a liquor license associated with the premises does not have to be re-supplied if reference to the licensee's name and license number is included in the cabaret license application.

Application Documents

  • Cabaret License Application(PDF, 198KB) 
  • Right of Possession Documents (Lease or Deed). The lease must be valid for at least 90 days from the date the application is submitted.
  • Diagram of premises
    • Include floor space and seating capacity, including any floor space to be used for dancing
    • Include number of pool tables or amusement devices
  • Individual History Form(PDF, 156KB) 
  • Full set of fingerprints mailed to Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) - Applicants and/or its officers, directors, partners, members, and 10% or greater shareholders and members if this has not already occurred in the liquor licensing process.


Cabaret Underage Patrons Application Documents

  • Cabaret Underage Patrons Application(PDF, 218KB)
  • Cabaret Underage Patrons Guidelines(PDF, 71KB)
  • Minimum age required for admission
  • The days and hours when persons under twenty-one (21) years of age will be admitted
  • How alcohol beverages will be stored during such hours of operation
  • If persons under twenty-one (21) years of age are permitted in a separate room of a licensed premises while alcohol is being served in another area, the licensee must explain in detail how the person under twenty-one (21) years of age will be separated from the 21 and above patrons and what the licensee will do to prevent any mingling of patrons under twenty-one (21) years of age with patrons who are twenty-one (21) years of age or older.
  • The owner and manager of the licensee must file a statement that they are familiar with the Denver curfew laws and will abide by them. D.R.M.C. Sec. 34-61 (a) and (b). 


Additional Documentation by Form of Business Entity


Corporate Applicants

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • A current Certificate of Good Standing
  • A certificate of Authorization (if applicant is a foreign corporation)
  • A list of Officers, Directors, and Stockholders of the Parent Corporation (The list must designate one person as the "principal officer")
  • A Trade Name Certificate, if applicable
  • Current Corporate minutes authorizing application for a liquor and/or cabaret license


Limited Liability Company Applicants

  • Articles of Organization
  • A current Certificate of Good Standing
  • Operating Agreement
  • A certificate of Authority (if the applicant is a foreign company)
  • A Trade Name Certificate, if applicable
  • Identification of its licensed premises manager


Sole Proprietorship Applicants

  • Trade Name Affidavit, if applicable


Step 4: Fees


Type of Cabaret Application Fee License Fees
Underage Cabaret $ 200.00 $ 750.00
Standard Acoustic $ 500.00 $750.00
Dance / Special Dance $1,000.00 $1,500.00
Event Center $1,000.00 $1,500.00
3.2 Beer $2,000.00 $1,500.00
Adult Cabaret $2,000.00 $3,000.00


Full set of fingerprints:  $38.50 per person


Fees can be paid with cash, check, money order or credit card.  We cannot accept credit card payments over the phone. 


Step 5: Public Hearing

  • A public hearing is scheduled once all other requirements are complete
  • An area is designated around the proposed location from which residents and business owners/managers can sign petitions and testify at the public hearing
  • A sign is posted at the premises of the proposed liquor license for at least twenty (days) prior to the hearing. 
  • The posting sign must follow these guidelines:
    • Be white, sturdy, and measure 22 inches wide by 26 inches high with letters not less than one inch high
    • Indicate the type of license, the date and time of the hearing, the name, and address of the licensee and any partners or officers of the licensee
    • Be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises so that it is plainly visible and legible to the public
    • Contain a map of the designated area
    • Contents to be included on the posting sign will be established by the Department of Excise and Licenses.
  • Registered neighborhood organizations (RNOs), public newspapers, the City Council and the Police District are notified of the application and public hearing
  • Petitions are circulated in support and against the proposed liquor license.  Read more about petitions(PDF, 54KB).  
  • Public Hearing is held
  • Final decision is issued by the Director of Excise and Licenses


Read more about public hearings


Step 6: Required Inspections

  • Zoning Business License Inspection (720) 913-1311
  • Building Business License Inspection (720) 865-2630
  • Denver Fire Department (720) 913-3409
  • Department of Public Health and Environment (720) 913-1311
  • Department of Excise and Licenses (720) 913-1311 (Last inspection - Schedule when all other inspections have been passed.)


Step 7: Get Your License

Notify the Department of Excise and Licenses, at, that you would like your license emailed to you when all of the steps below have been completed.  

  1. All documents required for the license are complete and submitted to the office.
  2. The background check, if applicable, is accepted and approved.
  3. Fees are paid in full.
  4. All required inspections, if applicable, are passed.
  5. All approvals are given by the state and local offices.

NOTE:  You are encouraged to stay in touch with the Department of Excise and Licenses during your application process as each step can vary from the general steps described herein depending upon your own particular circumstances.



Renew a Cabaret License

Renewal Process

  • Licenses are issued for one year and must be renewed every year. 
  • The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses will send renewal applications to active licensees 90 days prior to expiration.


Required Documents

  • Application forms and business entity documents are required for the applications process. All documents must be submitted in duplicate – one copy for the City of Denver and the original copy for the State of Colorado. Documents must be printed in black ink or typewritten. Photocopies are accepted.

    All documents should be submitted to the Department of Excise and Licenses, 201 W. Colfax Ave. #206,  Denver, CO  80202  


    Please Note new law mandates certain changes to the type of liquor license your establishment currently holds. This law is in regards to Retail 3.2 Beer On/Off Premises Licenses (FMB On-Off), Retail 3.2 Beer On-Premises License (FMB On), and Retail 3.2 Beer Off-Premises License (FMB Off).

    No more Issuance or renewals of FMB On/Off licenses as of June 4, 2018:

    ● No Retail FMB On-Off licenses shall be issued new or renewed by the local or state

    licensing authority.

    ● Upon their annual renewal, an existing FMB On-Off licensee must convert to a FMB

    On or FMB Off.

    ● In order to facilitate this request, the licensee must submit along with their renewal

    application a written notification to their local licensing authority and state licensing


    ● If you have recently submitted a renewal application, the state licensing authority or

    local licensing authority will be in contact with you so that you can communicate your

    preference in writing.

    ● When you receive renewal paperwork from the state licensing authority 90 days prior to license expiration, this letter will accompany your renewal paperwork reminding you of this change.

    ● Submit your renewal application to your local licensing authority first . Notify them

    in writing of your selected licensing preference.

    Your license will not be renewed until this information is conveyed to your local licensing authority.



Late Renewals

Licenses must be renewed on or before the expiration date to avoid penalty fees.

90 Day Grace Period

There is a 90 day grace period from the expiration date during which licenses can be renewed for a penalty fee.

First 30 days of grace period:  20% penalty fee

Days 31 - 90:  50% penalty fee

After 90 days:  Licensees will be required to apply for a new license


Public Hearings for Renewal of License

  • The Director of the Department of Excise and Licenses can determine that a valid basis exists to conduct a public hearing on an application for renewal or change of ownership of a cabaret license. 
  • Procedures will be followed with regard to posting, publication, and notification of the public hearing.
  • Once the public hearing is held, the Director of Excise and Licenses will issue a final written decision.


Renewal Policies

  • Department of Excise and Licenses inspectors will attempt to locate and notify business license holders of the approaching expiration date.  However, failure of an inspector to notify a delinquent licensee that its license has expired does not excuse the licensee from any applicable late penalty.