Serving Up Success: How to Price Your Bartending Services for Private Events

Serving Up Success: How to Price Your Bartending Services for Private Events

You have just been invited as a bartender to your first private event and you are excited about making the occasion lively and enjoyable with your skills. But how much do bartenders charge for private events

Or perhaps you have just been invited to a private event in the next state. Though you know how to charge within your state, you are not sure what needs to change for this out-of-state event. How much does it cost to normally hire a bartender in this state? 

Deciding what you should charge for private events is important. 

On the one hand, you don’t want to shortchange yourself (charging $30 where you could have charged $50). On the other hand, you don’t want to discourage event organizers or hosts by overcharging

In this article, we help you resolve this dilemma by considering how much bartenders charge for private events and the various factors they consider before deciding on a fee. We’ll cover: 

  1. Factors to consider before charging for private events
  2. Setting your bartending rates for private events
  3. How to command higher prices for private events

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        1. Factors to consider before charging for private events

        The average cost of hiring bartenders for private parties in general ranges from $25-$50 per hour, according to Profitable Venture, a business blog, $30-$90 per hour, according to Yelp, a reviews website, and $30-50, according to Fash, a website for wedding and events preparation.

        Though these general average costs may be helpful, they are not very informative since the average private bartender rates per hour will vary depending on the type of event, the size of the event, the location, and the scope of services required. 

        Event types

        Some of the private events bartenders get hired for include wedding receptions, birthday parties, anniversaries, corporate events, bachelor parties, charity events, reunions, housewarming parties, and graduation parties.

        A graduation party involving few friends is not the same as a wedding reception involving hundreds of people.  

        Also, a small event with a minimal selection of drinks in the bar setup will not be the same as a corporate event requiring full-service bars that can provide specialty tastings and signature cocktails. The latter will take more time and skills and require the use of more supplies, bar tools, and equipment. 

        Therefore, the average private bartender cost will vary based on the type of event and the skills required at the event. 

        Event size

        Also, the private bartender rates per hour will vary based on the guest count. This is because the number of guests will determine the number of bartenders required. 

        According to Brides, a wedding website, there should be one bartender for 35 wedding guests “if you want the bar to run smoothly.” Yelp suggests 1 bartender for 50 guests (for all types of events) if there will be cocktails and mixed drinks and 1 bartender for 100 guests if it’s only wine and beer. 

        Larger events will require more staffing, and the cost of hiring those extra hands will factor into the final price.

        For example, the average cost for bartending a wedding, according to Brides, is $35/hour. If you will be going with 4 bartenders, then the wedding bartender cost for all of you will be $140/hour.  

        Event length 

        Some private event bartenders charge a fixed rate for 4 hours of bartending, according to Profitable Venture. This rate ranges from $150-$250. Fash puts it as between $150-$350. 

        Private Bartender for Hire Costs by Broken Bartender

        Source: Fash

        When the event exceeds four hours, they will then charge a particular rate (which will be higher than the per-hour equivalent of the fixed rate) for every extra hour. 

        On the other hand, some bartenders stick to an hourly rate and multiply that by the number of hours they work. So, if you attend a 4-hour event at $30 per hour, that will be a $120 fee but another event lasting 2 hours will result in a $60 fee. 

        Location

        The average salary earned by bartenders varies across states. And even within a state, it will vary from one community to another.

        It's the same with pricing for private events

        A bartender in Los Angeles might conveniently charge $60 per hour for the same event (and the same work) that a bartender will charge $40 per hour for in Wyoming. 

        This means that you should be aware of the average private bartender rates per hour in the location before you decide on what to charge for an event. Doing this survey will ensure you don’t short-change yourself or chase potential customers away. 

        Location will also determine if you need to charge transport fees. If the place is not far, you might overlook but if the event organizer is keen on your services and the location is far, you can charge for transport. 

        Time of year

        The demand for professional bartenders increases during holidays and special occasions (New Year, Christmas, Thanksgiving). Higher demand means higher prices as a bartender will have to say no to others to say yes to one. The higher price is the compensation. 

        It can also be seen as compensation for having bartenders work when they should be resting (that’s what holidays are typically for). 

        If you have been invited to bartend for an event during holidays and special occasions, don’t be afraid to charge a premium. According to Yelp, holidays can increase the cost of bar services by 30%-50%. 

        Skills and expertise required

        As said above, an event where wine and beer will be served will not be charged the same way as one requiring mixing drinks and serving cocktails and specialty tastings. 

        Experience level will also result in different fees. Some experienced bartenders can easily spot minors, identify those who are on the brink of getting drunk, help guests choose the right drinks, and make the private party lively and enjoyable with their personality and communication skills. 

        Some event hosts will even pay a premium for flair bartending since it provides additional entertainment to their guests. Those with that ability can therefore charge a higher hourly rate

        Tips

        Bartending depends strongly on the tipping culture in the US.

        If event organizers don’t allow you to put out a tip jar, then you should compensate for the absence of gratuity by increasing your hourly rate for the private party. This can be an additional 5-20% of the initial cost.

        In the case of weddings, married couples usually tip bartenders on their own (18-25%, according to Insurance Canopy, a digital insurance company) so there is no need to add a premium on the rate per hour.  

        You should note that the event host is the one that bears the cost of rentals of mobile bars, glassware, napkins, coolers, mixers, shakers, etc., the labor cost of bar setup and bar breakdown, and the cost of buying alcoholic beverages, wine, ice, and garnishes.

        However, they can choose to hire some of these items from the bartender (instead of using a concierge service). If they do (and you can supply them), you will also need to set competitive prices for those items and the price to the total cost the event host will incur.

        Best Gifts for Bartenders by Broken Bartender

        2. Setting your bartending rates for private events

        Now that we have analyzed how much bartenders charge for private events, let’s focus on how you can set your rates. 

        Set a base rate

        The base rate is the minimum rate you will charge for any type of event. For any event to qualify for this minimum rate, it will meet certain conditions. 

        For example, you can charge $30 per hour (based on the average cost we have considered above) for any event that will require only one bartender, will be held in your local community, require only wine and beer (no cocktails and specialty tastings), allow tips, and will not be on holidays and special occasions. 

        Set standard rates based on the individual factors considered

        Once you have set a base rate, you can then begin to set a ladder of standard rates based on all the factors we have considered.

        For example, if everything else is the same as the base rate event except that this other event requires cocktails and specialty tastings, then you can charge say $50 per hour (for instance).

        Also, if everything else is the same except that it is during a holiday, you can add a 20% premium and charge $36. 

        If the difference with the base rate event is that there won’t be tips, then you can also decide to add say 10% to take the rate per hour to $33.  

        We have assumed that you are using a per-hour rate, so event length won’t matter. If you were using a fixed rate instead, you need to decide on an overtime rate once the event exceeds 4 hours. 

        If it is the event size that differs, you can just add an extra $30 for every additional bartender needed. And if it is a barback that is required, you can add say additional $20 for every barback

        What if it’s the location that differs? Here, things are more dynamic. You will need to research the average cost of hiring a bartender for private events in that location and also know what the cost involves. It is this information you will use to determine the base rate and the standard rate for that location.

        Set standard rates that combine various factors 

        You also need to consider situations where the event you are charging for differs from the base rate event based on multiple factors. 

        For example, if the event is at Christmas and also requires cocktails and specialty taskings, then you need to add the fee for those two to the base rates. If we continue with the example in the previous section, that will mean charging $56/hour. 

        What if the event does not allow tips and it is in another community? You will need to find the comparable rate for your base rate event in that community and then add an extra 10% to compensate for the absence of tips. 

        Having standard rates like these can help you make decisions faster and avoid the confusion bartenders face when deciding how much to charge for events. 

        Standard rates may also make clients take you seriously. If you have to tell them “I will get back to you” every time they inquire about your prices, they might be unsure about your professionalism. 

        3. How to command higher prices for private events

        Of course, “standard” does not mean inflexible. If the cost of living is increasing, you can increase your prices. 

        More importantly, if your experience and skills have increased, there is no reason why you should stick to previous prices. 

        So, if you want to move from the lower end ($30) of the average cost bartenders are charging for private events to the higher end ($90) and more, you need to invest in yourself

        Are there specialty tastings and cocktails that only top mixologists can manage? Take the necessary courses to expand the drink menu you can handle.

        Sometimes it is about soft skills. The presence of some bartenders can add color to an event. Why not improve your communication and interpersonal skills to bring that same presence? 

        You will be surprised that it is even a style improvement that you need to improve your value to event hosts and organizers. Wearing bartender-themed t-shirts, hats, and cocktail shakers can make you stand out. The aesthetics of the pins, stickers, and whiskey stones you use can also make you distinct. 

        [Do you want to improve your style and stand out in private events? Visit the Broken Bartender store for bartender-themed t-shirts and hats as well as quality and beautiful cocktail shakers, pins, stickers, and whiskey stones. ]

        Takeaways

        • How much do bartenders charge for private parties? It varies on average between $30 and $90 per hour. 
        • The actual amount charged will depend on factors such as event type, event length, event size, location, time of the year, skills and expertise required, and whether you can take tips or not. 
        • Setting standard rates for events based on these factors will help you avoid confusion when it is time to charge clients for private events

        While setting standard rates, you can always increase your value and charge higher rates for your professional bartending service.

        Best Gifts for Bartenders by Broken Bartender

         

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