A flat amount of money
that must be paid at a nightclub
to get in, ostensibly to cover
the cost of the entertainment
. In many establishments, women do not have to pay a cover charge, or may have their cover charge significantly reduced, as an inducement
for them to frequent the place.
Because many people shy away from paying cover charges, clubs may institute a drink minimum instead. In fact, I've been to jazz clubs that have both a cover charge and a drink minimum.