For most events during the year (such as weddings, cocktail parties, corporate celebrations, and anniversaries), the services of a professional bartender can enhance the gathering. Regardless of the size of the event, bartending services can be hired to ensure it’s a memorable celebration. Events ranging from casual backyard get-togethers to more formal occasions all benefit from having a bartender available, in many different ways.
When planning for such an event, many factors go into the costs associated with professional bartender services. Here, we’ll explore some of these factors to help you determine whether a professional bartending service is right for your next important event.
Hourly Costs and Package Prices
Every bartender and professional bartending service has their own fee structure. Some bartenders may charge an hourly rate, while others have a fixed fee for a block of time. For example, certain bartending services may have a flat rate for a four hour time period and may charge extra for additional hours beyond that four hour block. Others may have a minimum number of hours. The highest quality companies create all-inclusive packages which include all bartending costs as well as all supplies (which are called “full service” packages). Top-tier mobile bars require ingredients from dozens of individual suppliers, often coming from specialized sources. Full-service companies take care of all of the sourcing for you, so all you need to provide is a space for the bar.
In general, budget-focused bartending companies and individual “gig” bartenders price on some variation of an hourly basis, but come with high risk of cancellation (whether due to illness, changes of personal plans or finding a higher paying gig). Premium-tier companies are usually full service and much more reliable. The best-of-the-best companies take great pride in never having missed an event.
Guest Count, Menus and Consumption
It goes without saying that the larger the event, the more bartenders will be needed to adequately serve guests. Small events may require only one or two bartenders, while large corporate gatherings may need the assistance of more bartending professionals, including event directors.
Drink menus may also affect the number of bartenders needed and the costs associated with providing beverage service. Complicated cocktails require more labor and time than serving wine or beer. A quality bartending service can help you plan out your drink menus and offerings, as well as advise you on the proper staffing to help you have the best outcome for your event.
Be sure to advise your bartending company on your estimated guest count and estimated consumption (even if it changes as the event approaches), so they’ll not only staff properly (to avoid wait times), but also bring more than adequate quantities of ingredients (to ensure the bar never runs dry). Having fewer guests or lower consumption than expected at a party means relaxed bartenders and fast service times, perhaps even a credit toward a future event! Having more guests and higher consumption means stress on everyone, supply risk (as handmade syrups and juices take a long time to prepare, and additional alcohol may be needed) and the possibility of additional charges (for the additional pressure and underlying cost created).
Want a professional tip? The lowest cost parties are always on a Tuesday in February.
The top mobile bartending companies are in high demand and book out nearly every week, all year. In December, when they receive hundred of calls a day for holiday parties, they are priced much higher than in the slow season. This is called “demand based pricing”, and can work to your advantage… If pricing is higher than you had budgeted, ask if a different date (a few weeks earlier or later) would help to lower cost!