Whether it’s a fundraiser, wedding or get together at home, bar service is expected. Even if it’s only beer or only wine. As a planner, you know there’s a demand, now it’s up to you to decide how you supply it. Deciding on a bar service is influenced by many things including your audience type, budget, type of event, timing of the event and more.
All of these planning pieces will leave you with the following choices:
Open Bar: A bar at which drinks are served free and paid for by the host, through an admission fee or sponsor.
– Unlimited cocktail variety and options for the guests.
– A generous event element that your guests are sure to appreciate especially when its a fundraiser or gift giving event.
– Liability. You must make sure the bartenders are paying attention to the state of your guests. We have to be sure everyone is comfortable and safe.
– Expensive. Open bar is the most expensive bar service option there is. Make sure to consider your budget when deciding which service to go with.
Cash Bar: Guests are charged for each of their individual drinks.
– One of the least expensive bar service options (alongside Drink Tickets). Definitely friendly to the budget conscious planner.
– Limits liability. People tend to drink less when they have to pay for each and every drink.
– Two words, Faux Pas. In cases of fundraisers or gift giving events, guests may feel slighted that they had to come out of their pocket to support the cause.
Limited Bar Sample Menu
Limited Bar: Only offers certain types of drinks, such as wine, beer, champagne, signature cocktail and a nonalcoholic soft drink.
– Every guest will be happy. Chances are, a limited bar including wine and beer, will satisfy every guest and the addition of a signature cocktail increase the chances.
– Fun! Who doesn’t love the idea of creating a fun signature drink for everyone to enjoy.
– Budget Control. It’s very easy to control your beverage budget when you don’t have to guess at how much of each liquor choice your guests will consume. Limited options, limited guessing.
– There’s always one. There is a 1% chance you have a guest who doesn’t like beer or wine, or soda. But a 1% chance is one I’m willing to take.
Regardless of which bar service you choose keep in mind these few things…
– Interview and select your bartenders carefully. Make sure your bartender is well-educated on their craft and can provide your guests with whatever their cocktail of choice may be.
– You can’t go cheap. If you’ve decided to provide your guests with an open bar, make sure they are served middle to high level alcohol.
– If you want to have an open bar, but have a tight budget, don’t cancel the idea totally. Set a budget limit and coordinate with the bartender or venue management, to let you know when you’re approaching the limit. You can then take into account how much time is left to the event, or how the event is flowing and either decide to keep the open bar open or transition into a cash bar.
– Keep a close eye on your inventory. If you paid for it, it’s yours. This goes for catering food and definitely goes for liquor as well. If you have the option of purchasing your own liquor and only have it served by bartenders (which is ideal), you can always return the liquor or keep for your own personal inventory at a later date. If you paid for it, it’s yours. Remember!
Do you have a question or idea about Bar Service you would like me to explore? Leave a comment!