Updated: Dec 9, 2020
At any event, planning and managing the bar element can be a headache. How much is it going to cost? How am I going to serve it? How to keep everyone happy? If not me, then who is going to serve it? The list can get much longer than this. Here are four great options for resolving this bar dilemma at your next event.
Self-serve bars are great for parties of up to 25 people, and best for events with close friends and family; think house parties, garden parties, and other informal gatherings where there is going to be no cut off time at the bar or a demand for professionally made cocktails. Anything over 25 people and you run the risk of someone maybe taking advantage of the free-flowing booze or underage attendees trying to sneak a drink.
This option requires very little attention from you. You may be required to point guests in the direction of certain items i.e., cups, ice, wine, mixers, etcetera, but besides that a self-serve bar is hassle free.
Self-serve bars are also the cheapest option listed here with an average cost of $475 including everything from cups to garnishes, napkins to ice, beer to liquor. There is one danger that you may miss an item or two, or overbuy -but whoever said that’s a problem?-, so proper planning is essential.
2. Bartend Yourself
This is a great option for an intimate gathering and allows you to show off your skills and impress your guests. Any more than 10 guests can make such an event stressful and leave you with little time for every guest. Other elements of your event, such as food service, can further complicate matters.
Bartending an event yourself means that you’ll be able to serve better drinks than those guests could self-serve themselves without, again, necessitating a cut off time. But this also means that you’ll be continually interrupted to replenish other guest’s drinks.
Self-bartended events will run you around $550 for all the service items and the ingredients for the drinks. The cost is slightly higher than self-serve because you’re going to be mixing more complex cocktails, therefore requiring a larger variety of alcoholic ingredients. There's an additional cost if you don't already own a set of bartending tools.
3. Establishment Drinks Package
Utilizing the services of the establishment at which you’re holding your event is a great way to take the stress of service and cleanup off your shoulders. It also means that your guests will be getting service from dedicated, experienced personnel who can handle a large volume of people.
From here though, the negatives begin to creep in. Many locations offer drinks packages and if you have a strict budget you may be stuck in a tier that is not favorable to your desires, especially if you want some products which are only offered in the higher tiers. If you go for higher packages you could end up paying more than you needed to for non-drinking guests, if you go lower you may leave some guests disappointed. You could set up a bar tab, and this works great for 10-15 people, but when that tab begins to runs up, what next?
Establishments also, unfortunately, have a regulated service time. The costs of these services are extremely hard to pinpoint as there’s no industry standard pricing. Each location offers what suits them and prices their tiers accordingly, but you’ll be looking at somewhere between $17-$35 per person, depending on which tier you choose.
4. Hire A Mobile Bartender
These particular services do not furnish alcohol, and therefore you are required to do the purchasing but this means that you’re free to choose what you want to serve at your event. Mobile bartending services will bring their own bar, bar tools, mixers, garnish, ice, and as many people as needed to man your event, often being able to service up to 200 guests.
With a mobile bartending service your event can be anywhere and at anytime! Provided the timeframe is agreed with the mobile bartending service provider and that the correct permits are obtained. Your mobile bartender will guide you through the planning of the event and advise you on what to buy, and you’ll have complete knowledge and control of the costs.
Basic costs for mobile bartenders vary and then you add the cost of the booze on top, but a good starting price to work from is $13 per person. Utilizing a mobile bartending service means that you’ll be free to give your guests your undivided attention.
Not just that, but any leftover alcohol is yours to keep and can either be consumed once the bartenders have left or sent home with your guests. Sounds like a win-win!
Budget and guest count are the parameters of every event and these are ultimately what make a majority of the decisions for you. The bar is a big decision and your bar choice has a few other factors involved such as location, the reason for the event, and event timing. Hopefully you now have a better insight into your options and can make the choice that is right for you.