You need a liquor license before you can serve or sell any type of alcoholic beverage. Requirements for a license vary by state and sometimes by county or city. The following are the basic things to know about securing a license, which can help you prepare to begin your application. 1. Check Your Zoning Zoning restrictions can stop your plans before they even begin. Most municipalities have zoning areas where it isn't possible to sell or serve liquor, such as near a school.