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Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Bar Business in Singapore

Starting a Bar Business in SingaporeDoes fancy a cocktail drink out of the blue? Let’s get to your favorite bar for that unique mix of drinks. While you drink away that new favorite cocktail, you begin to wonder how it is like running a bar business. Sure, you can watch your favorite bar go around their daily routine day-in and day-out or get to chat with the manager. Starting a bar business is excellent if you are ready to serve customers of all kinds.

For some, the cozy atmosphere of a bar can be a refuge from all life stresses. For others, a bar can be a starting point for better things to come. Bars all over the island have had their fair share of memorable moments shared with regular patrons or exceptional customers.

In a country like Singapore, there is no shortage of bars. There are all sorts of bars you can find here. Perhaps, you may think another bar on the island won’t hurt. Starting a bar business in Singapore can be a very lucrative affair. The more you understand your clients’ needs, the better niche for your business. Starting a business in Singapore is easy, but it is better to engage with Singapore company registration services for all your business start-up needs. Here is the guide on starting a bar business in Singapore, which explains the industry practice, business registration, licenses, and permits.


The Bar Industry

The bar scene in Singapore began in the late 1800s where the oldest bar is located in the Raffles hotel. It is also the origin of the cocktail Singapore Sling. Since then, many more bars have appeared on the island. Most people associate bars as a place to drink and get drunk as bars are allowed to sell and serve all kinds of alcohol. While too much drinking may get you intoxicated, bars in Singapore are strictly regulated in terms of licensing.

As an island, Singapore is highly advantageous when offering hospitality to everyone. The bar industry falls within the hospitality sector as bars serve customers food and drink. Albeit, the foods served are finger foods that can easily match with the alcohol. Most patrons visit bars to de-stress after work and talk over matters in a casual environment. Hence, food may not be the highlight of bars.

Nevertheless, there are many kinds of bars one can find here in Singapore. The word bar also largely refers to the establishment that serves customers directly from the counter. Hence, starting a bar business in Singapore may suit you right if you enjoy offering a variety of drinks from hard liquor to mocktails and everything in between.

Learning the tricks of the trade can be tricky for first-timers. You may love cocktails, beer, wine, and all kinds of spirits but a true bar owner is more than that. Thus, starting a bar business can be done through a partnership with an experienced bar manager. The older may not necessarily be the wiser as times have changed the business scene a lot. The wiser now applies to the most creative in retaining and attracting new groups of patrons.


Practice Makes Perfect

The current bar practice in Singapore is that anyone can start learning to mix drinks through various course providers in the country. Most bartenders begin with basic knowledge of alcohol, categories of cocktails and mocktails, the importance of hygiene, sanitation, and safety. Award-winning mixologist offers these bartending courses as they are professionally called.

However, suppose you are starting a bar business after a few years behind the bar as a bartender. In that case, you can participate in a course offered by the International Bartenders Association Academy in Singapore. Part of the course includes bar management, costing and pricing of beverages, and the marketing of bars. It is best to be experienced behind the bar and in the community for any bars to be successful.

Bars can be a fun place for group drinkers, but they can also be a community place. Most bars have regular patrons, and they have been visiting the bars more often than not. While it may not be a gossiping place, they know each other pretty well. Some of the exquisite bars may be attracting new-age customers who are willing to try new menus. But, bars in the suburbs have their charms. As long as a bar is a welcoming place, there will be regular customers dropping in for a drink.


Onsite & Online Sales

But, with the current restrictions of crowd control, bars have to get creative to sustain their business. Nevertheless, the licensing of alcohol sales and service allows for plenty of business improvisations, if the need be. One such business sustainability is the use of the online platform. Customers will continue to drink even from their homes. Hence, bars could result in online sales of alcohol and delivering them to customers, wherever they are.

If conventional bars served special mix cocktails for onsite consumption, bars could offer regular, and new customers bottled cocktails. Thus, sales of alcohol can continue despite limitations. Such an avenue opens up an opportunity to learn about handling, packaging, and delivering alcohol to customers. It translates into further opportunities to provide the best customer services to customers. You can contact 3E Accounting to discuss your niche ideas to better understand your future bar.

The License To Sell

As there are plenty of bars in Singapore, starting a bar business may need to get creative and niche. You may already have envisioned the kind of bar you want to run, but acquiring the license type will help you decide. The liquor license must be acquired and approved by the Singapore Police Force. There are five classes of liquor licenses available for bars to operate in Singapore.

Liquor Licenses Classes

  • 1A – Bar establishment that sells liquor for onsite consumption from 6 am to 11.59 pm
  • 1B – Bar that sells liquor for onsite consumption from 6 am to 10 pm
  • 2A – Bar that sells and serve beer only from 6 am to 11.59 pm
  • 2B – Bar that sells and serve beer only from 6 am to 10 pm
  • 3A – Retail sales of liquor for consumption other than licensed premises from 7 am to 10.29 pm. Retail liquor sale refers to less than 30 liters of liquor. Retail applies to a retail store or online store.
  • 3B – Retail sales of beer only for consumption other than licensed premises from 7 am to 10.29 pm.
  • 4 – Wholesale, retail sale of liquor for consumption other than licensed premises from 7 am to 10.29 pm
  • 5 – Temporary license. The temporary license may apply to events that will be serving alcohol or beer at the intended location.

If you plan to sell and serve beer and liquor at your bar, you may apply for the license for the respective beverages. For license 3A or 3B, license holders may deliver liquor beyond the trading hours to a non-public place in Singapore, such as residential homes and private condominium function rooms or office premises. However, under the new Liquor Control Act, bars in Singapore can have outdoor terraces, which will require an outdoor beerhouse license.


Criteria For License

Although the approval of liquor license is at the discretion of the officer in charge, there are several criteria one needs to adhere to for better chances. Among the criteria are:

  1. Fit and proper – not convicted or any under police investigation for any offense, has a good track record of complying with the condition of any liquor-licensed issued earlier
  2. Must be a Singapore Citizen, a Singapore Permanent Resident, or have a foreigner Identification Number issued by the Immigration Department
  3. One must be the director of a company, partner in a partnership, or sole proprietor in the sole proprietorship.
  4. The business entity must be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.


Getting The Business Registered

So now you have an idea of what kind of bar business you want to start. Are you going to start it on your own? Or with a partner or with a group of passionate mixologists? Either way, it is your call to decide on the business entity to get in touch with a company incorporation services.

If your business partner is a foreign national with a work permit, you can establish an LLC as it is the easiest company entity to form. After deciding on the company form and registering it with ACRA, you can now move on to registering with the Inland Revenue Board Authority for GST and taxation matters. Next is applying for a liquor license. As mentioned before, the license depends on the establishment closing hours, the type of alcohol sold,  and the type of establishment.

Starting a Bar Business in Singapore

The type of establishment could mean a bar or an outside beer stall. After which, you need to apply for a customs import for importing various beverages from the Singapore Customs. It may seem like a lot to take in to start a bar business in Singapore, but it is worth every penny once you have it up and running. With so many things to adhere to and understand, give your bar business a head start with a corporate service provider.