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Common Consumption: Everything You Need to Know

Get ready Denver, soon guests will be able to drink alcohol in designated outdoor areas thanks to the Mile High City’s recent approval of Common Consumption Areas (CCA). These new licenses will allow local eateries and retailers to unite to create a new dining and social experience.

Denver’s new CCA licenses provide an exciting opportunity for local businesses to expand their borders and create a community-like environment, in a shared common space, where patrons over the age of twenty-one can mingle outdoors with alcoholic beverages from various establishments.  We’ve seen similar executions of this idea at popular local events such as Oktoberfest on Market Street or Restaurant Week in Larimer Square. As the downtown area continues to recover from the pandemic, this opportunity to expand into, and with, the community brings excitement to both businesses and patrons alike.

It is important though, that licensees are aware of the legal and logistical requirements in order to apply and be approved for the license by the city. 

The Initial Steps 

So you’d like to apply for a CCA License? Here are a few preliminary items to consider before you begin the application process.

Work with your neighboring businesses to classify a proposed CCA. When considering who to partner with, it is important to note, all licensees involved must also have their own liquor license for “on-premise” consumption. After defining the proposal, the businesses in agreement will need to form and apply for a promotional association with the City of Denver. This association is a legal entity that encompasses a board of directors composed of at least one representative from each liquor licensed establishment in the CCA.

If the proposed CCA is not in a certified entertainment district within the City of Denver, the promotional association will also need to apply for this certification, requiring City Council approval.

Working closely with your neighboring business to iron out details in this preliminary stage will save everyone time and money during the application process.

The Logistics Behind the License 

You’ve worked out the details and formed a promotional association, what’s next? An action plan for security, public transportation, parking, health and sanitation will need to be created. The bulk of this process may be contingent on third-party vendors who offer these mandatory services and must abide by the City of Denver’s CCA rules.

In addition, the association must maintain commercial general liability insurance with the City of Denver identified as an additional insured. If the association wants to host live or recorded music in its CCA, it must also include plans for noise and crowd control, along with applying for a cabaret license.

The Application 

You’ve completed the required paperwork, and are able to apply for the CCA license. This process will resemble that of a liquor or cabaret license and require a public hearing. CCA applicants must prove the proverbial needs and desires of the designated area to be CCA-approved, in addition to proving that they are able to maintain compliance with the liquor rules and regulations with their proposed plans.

During the application process be aware of the potential opposition that might be faced from surrounding residents and other Registered Neighborhood Organizations. Petition surveys and Good Neighbor Agreements with surrounding Registered Neighborhood Organizations are particularly useful in this case when needing to come to a resolution.

How Messner Reeves Can Help 

The process to become CCA-approved may seem daunting, but our team at Messner Reeves knows how to help. As professionals in the legal industry with garnered experience in liquor licensing, hospitality, and common consumption, our firm can streamline the entire application process. Our attorneys successfully facilitated and coordinated the Denver International Airport’s common consumption approval for its southwest terminal and can use this experience to assist you during this process.

So, you’d like to learn more and begin the CCA application process? We are here to help and answer questions when you are ready!

By: Michelle Harden, Austin Gemmell & Daniel DeLay

If you have questions or are in need of assistance complying with this law, please contact Michelle Harden (, Austin Gemmell ( or Daniel DeLay ( or by visiting

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