A bartender’s basic party rate can range from $15 to $50 per hour. Some bartenders may charge as high as $300 for a few hours, and others less than $15 per hour.
To factor the cost of a bartender for a private party, you’ll have to consider:
- The party’s geographical location
- The date of the event
- The bartender’s special skills and training
- The number of people at the party
- The bartender booking service
Your Cost May Depend on Your Party’s Location
Bartenders in New York make about 30% above the national average, while bartenders in Las Vegas and San Francisco can expect to earn about 44 and 48% above the national average, respectively.
The cost of an event bartender will vary from that of a restaurant bartender and will depend on the strength of the local economy. Contact a local hospitality staffing service to find out the bartender rates in your area.
Booking a Bartender During the Holidays
Event bartenders will typically charge more for events held on or near a holiday. This is due to increased demand during certain times of the year. You may pay more than usual to hire a bartender anytime in December for your holiday party, for example, but the cost will be even higher if your event is being held on Christmas Day.
If you hire a bartender for your holiday party, expect to pay up 30 to 50% more than you would for a typical non-holiday event.
Hiring a Bartender with Special Skills
Bartenders that can flip bottles and tell stories or jokes while they serve drinks are called flair bartenders. Hiring a flair bartender will most likely cost more due to the extra training and skill involved.
Another consideration to keep in mind when hiring flair bartenders is the amount of time needed to serve each drink. Fewer guests will be served per hour because of the embellishments involved with this type of bartending, so you may need to hire additional bartenders for larger events.
Other special skills bartenders may possess include:
- Knowledge of how to mix a wide range of standard and more obscure drinks
- Outgoing personality
- Communication skills
- Good long-term and short-term memory
The more skilled an event bartender is, the more he or she can demand for that service.
You May Need More Than One Bartender
The beverages served and the number of guests attending the party normally determines the number of bartenders you’ll need to hire.
If your bar is limited to beer and wine, you may only need one bartender for up to 100 guests. If mixed drinks are served, you will likely need more than one bartender. Mixed drinks take more time to prepare and serve than beer and wine.
Some personal bartenders base their service on the number of guests. Many bartenders limit their service to 50 to 75 guests maximum. After the 75-guest threshold is met, you should calculate the cost of including an additional bartender.
Discounts for Additional Bartenders
A lot of bartending service providers will provide a discount for additional bartenders required. Billing policies vary and each individual and company will have their own. These discounts may increase incrementally, for example, a 5% discount for the first additional bartender, 10% for the second additional bartender, and so on.
The bartender-to-guest ratio will depend on the individual or company’s policy. Make sure to find out the company’s policy prior to booking the bartender.
Booking Your Bartender
Most bartenders are booked in four-hour increments (some require three hours). If you go over these time limits, your bartender may charge overtime fees of $30 to $80 — in addition to alcohol.
Make sure you book your bartender early, at least a few months ahead of time. Good ones with special skills (like the ones mentioned above) are in high demand and are hired quickly.
Expect to pay an upfront fee of about 50% of the final cost prior to guaranteed services.
Gratuity and Transportation
On top of their hourly wage, bartenders customarily receive tips for their services. Most bartenders expect to earn tips of 5 to 20% of the total. Expect to pay a higher hourly rate if a tip jar is not allowed. This is to make up for lost income.
The bartender’s contract may include other considerations including his or her transportation to and from the party.
Find a Bartender for Your Next Event
When considering the cost to hire a bartender for your next private party, keep in mind their fees may be affected by the date and location of your party, your bartender’s training, the number of party guests, and the booking company you use.
If you are looking to hire a bartender for your next party or event, and are located near Southern California, consider National Bar Staffing.