What is Mobile Bartending?

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Mobile bartending is exactly that, a bartender that can move -ideally with a bar- to bring the party to your event where there is no bar available. From this it’s possible to conjure up images of a bar built in a cart or a VW Bus or professional bartender with a polished stainless steel bar, or maybe just a dude in a tiki shirt with a pop up bar.

All of the above are true concepts. But, besides their appearance, they’ll all differ quite a bit: how much they cost, the level of service they provide, their level of expertise, etc. There will also be limitations outside of their control at your event. So what is mobile bartending and what does hiring a mobile bartender involve?

Limitations, Permits, and Minimum Qualifications

Firstly, there’re a few factors which can limit mobile bartending, one of those limits is not location; if you can get there with all the things you need for your event, chances are your mobile bartending service can too. What can limit using a mobile bartending service are getting permits to serve at your chosen location and meeting insurance requirements. These are easily taken care of by the bartending service, not the event organizer. Mobile bartending services will need to have knowledge of their local area requirements, so they can often point you in the right direction.

You should also expect your bartender to have at least a “limited” food service certificate because they’ll be preparing garnishes. You should also expect them to have the relevant, local alcohol awareness certification to prevent any guests from being over-served at your event.

Begin With A Quote

All good contractors should be able to give you a quote for their services and a mobile bartending service is no different. Here you’ll provide the parameters of your event: location, event type, guest count, type of cocktails you desire, liquors you desire, any personalization you may want, your budget; and from there your mobile bartender should be able to give you quote of the costs.

In this consultation you can also find out more about the mobile bartending service: how many people they can service at a single event, their costs, including tips and taxes, and what they can provide for the event i.e. mixers, garnishes, serving vessels, napkins, etc.

All of this will help you both determine if you’re a good fit for each other or not.


The Booze


In NY mobile bartenders are not permitted to have a liquor license because they have no physical location and, as a result, they cannot provide liquor for an event. This can be seen as a negative however the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.


The only other negative is that you have to spend the time sourcing the booze, but with many home delivery services out there, such as Drizly.com, this can be a quick and easy task. Your mobile bartender should also advise you on quantities of beer, wine and liquor needed during your consultation.


The positives of choosing and purchasing the booze are that you get to choose exactly what is served and are not stuck to a limited “tier” supplied by a bar or restaurant. It also means that any leftovers are yours to keep and consume at your will! Finally, purchasing your own booze can mean more accurate costing.

Their Equipment VS Your Equipment

Many mobile bartenders will supply their own bars some of which, like ours at Highball Bartenders, can be customized. All bars are not created equal and this should always be a factor when choosing between mobile bartending services.

Bartenders like to work with their own equipment as it is familiar to them as well as sized to their needs and their rhythm. Always ask about customizations or working from behind a bar you provide during the consultation. As a service at your event your mobile bartender will need to get in 2 hours early to ensure that they can set up and be fully prepared for when the fun starts.


A Final Word on Contracts


Just like with any other contracted service a mobile bartending service requires a contract. Look this over carefully with them and ask any questions you want as this is the point at which the finer details; such as who suppliers the booze, the mixers, and the garnishes, to the amount of time the service is employed for, to how much everything costs; are all ironed out.

Your event should be enjoyable, for you and your guests, and employing a mobile bartending service can take one of many things off your mind and ensure that everything runs smoothly!




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