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How to Open a Cocktail Bar

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Opening a cocktail bar is an exciting venture. There are many things to consider, from the licensing and permitting process to the actual layout of the cocktail bar. This article will walk you through the entire process, from start to finish.  

Here are the nine steps you can take to get started on building your very own cocktail bar.


Nine Steps to Launching a New Cocktail Bar 

1. Name Your Cocktail Bar 

Give your cocktail bar an identity so people will consider it a well-known and respected brand. To name your cocktail bar, you can use a geographical reference, a specialty drink or offering or a personal reference.

The main goal for naming your cocktail bar is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so people will visit it.


2. Determine Your Cocktail Bar Business Model

There are several possible types of business models for a cocktail bar including:

  1. Cocktail bar that serves food
  2. Cocktail bar that does not serve food
  3. Restaurant with a cocktail bar
  4. Cocktail bar that has live music 

No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals, the products you offer and the type of venue you are opening.


3. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business

By incorporating your cocktail bar, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.

The business structure you choose for your cocktail bar will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.

Read our article comparing the most common cocktail bar business structures.


4. Write a Cocktail Bar Business Plan

All cocktail bar owners should develop a business plan. 

A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.

Read our article about how to write a cocktail bar business plan.


5. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses

You may need to obtain required licenses and permits before launching your cocktail bar.

For example, you will need to obtain a liquor license. The process for obtaining a liquor license can vary from state to state. You will also need to get a business license, which you can get from your local city or county clerk’s office.

You must also register your cocktail bar as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.

Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.

Read our article about obtaining the proper cocktail bar business licenses.


6. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed

In developing your cocktail bar plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.

If you have funds to invest in your cocktail bar, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your cocktail bar include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors, and family and friends.

Read our article about the costs associated with starting a cocktail bar to help you determine if funding is needed. 


7. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently

When you start your cocktail bar, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You need a computer with Internet access, a point-of-sales system where waitstaff and bartenders enter orders, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues. 

You may also want to invest in bar management software to help you with tasks like inventory management and employee scheduling.


8. Market Your Cocktail Bar to Potential Customers

Before opening your doors, you must let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your bar.

After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Also, consider networking with other people in the bar industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business. 

You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Cocktail bars should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared: 

  • Developing a database of potential customers
  • Designing and distributing print materials like menus and flyers
  • Organizing special events or promotions
  • Advertising in local publications
  • Engaging in online marketing efforts

Read our article about how to market your cocktail bar for more tips.


9. Get New Customers & Grow Your Business

You will need to promote your bar to get interest from potential customers

Make sure you’re ready to serve these customers. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your cocktail bar.

Read our article about how to effectively grow your cocktail bar to learn more.


Starting a Cocktail Bar FAQs

The barriers to starting a cocktail bar business are relatively low, making it a great option for entrepreneurs. Also, bar demand is always high since people love socializing and drinking alcohol. 

Here are some tips for starting a cocktail bar business:

  1. Research the market. Ensure you understand the ins and outs of the cocktail bar business before you start.
  2. Have a strong business plan. This will help you map out the steps you need to take to be successful.
  3. Find the right location. Your cocktail bar should be in a high-traffic area with a lot of foot traffic.
  4. Get the right technology and software. Invest in bar management software to help you with inventory management and employee scheduling tasks.
  5. Promote your business. Use social media, print materials, and special events to attract new customers.
  6. Train your staff. Find and train the right people to help you grow your cocktail bar.
  7. Focus on quality. Always serve your customers the best possible product and experience.

A simple checklist to use when starting a cocktail bar is as follows:

  1. Name Your Cocktail Bar: This should be done carefully, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
  2. Choose a Legal Form for Your: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
  3. Determine Your Cocktail Bar Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
  4. Write a Cocktail Bar Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
  5. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations, you must apply for a business license and permits before you can begin operations.
  6. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
  7. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need the right tools to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, inventory, and business operations in general.
  8. Market Your Cocktail Bar to Potential Customers: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the menu items they truly need and want. 
  9. Get Customers & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to pursue and secure those who would frequent your establishment actively. 



Opening a cocktail bar can be a lucrative and exciting business venture. However, when opening a cocktail bar, there are many things to consider, such as naming your business, writing a business plan, getting the necessary permits and licenses, and marketing your business. 

With the right planning and execution, you can open a successful cocktail bar that attracts customers and helps you grow your business.