How much does it cost to hire a bartender for a private party or event?
$30 – $50 average hourly rate (per bartender)
$150 – $350 average total cost (4 hours)
Bartender for hire cost
Hiring a bartender costs $150 to $350 on average for a private party or event. Bartender hourly rates are $30 to $50 on average, while a flair bartender or high-end mixologist charges $50 to $300 per hour. Hire one bartender for every 50 to 75 guests.
|Guests||Number of bartenders needed||Average cost for 4 hours|
|25 or fewer||1||$120 – $200|
|50||1||$120 – $200|
|100||2||$240 – $400|
|150||2 – 3||$240 – $600|
|200||3 – 4||$360 – $800|
|300||4 – 6||$480 – $1,200|
Average private event bartender rates
The following table shows the average cost of hiring a private event bartender.
|National average cost||$230|
|Average cost range||$150 to $350|
*Cost data is from research and project costs reported by Fash members.
Bartender hourly rates
A standard freelance bartender charges $30 to $50 per hour, while an entertaining flair bartender or experienced mixologist charges $50 to $300 per hour. Company bartenders include higher costs for company profits, insurance, and employee benefits.
|Standard freelance bartender||$30 – $50|
|Mixologist, flair bartender, or company bartender||$50 – $300|
Bartender price factors for a private event or party
Private party bartenders set hourly rates based on their skill level, the number of guests, staff required, event timing, travel fees, and other factors:
Alcohol / drink menu – Well drinks for shots and mixers are cheaper than top-shelf distilled spirits. Beer, wine, and pre-mixed batch cocktails require fewer bartenders.
Freelance vs. company bartender – Weddings, corporate events, anniversaries, fundraisers, and large parties require professional bartending services.
Skill level/licensed – Flair bartenders and skilled mixologists with safety certificates cost more than bar servers that pour beer and wine.
Mobile bar equipment – Bar fronts, bar toppers, linens, and glassware rentals add to the total cost.
Full service – A concierge service makes party planning simple by providing the necessary alcohol, mixers, glassware, ice, garnishes, non-alcoholic beverages, bar supplies, and staff for a fee.
Setup and breakdown hours – Add 2 to 3 labor hours for bar setup and breakdown.
Barbacks – A bar assistant charges $20 to $30 per hour to help restock ice, glasses, bottles, and kegs.
Event timing – Weekends and holidays have higher demand and 30% to 50% higher rates. Bartenders may offer mid-week and mid-day discounts.
Overtime fees – Bartenders charge 1.5 to 2.5 times the regular rate for overtime if the bar service does not end when scheduled.
Tip jar – Most bartenders use a tip jar on the bar and set their hourly rate accordingly. Expect bartenders without a tip jar to charge a higher hourly rate or add a 10% to 20% service fee.
Travel fees – Some bartenders charge additional travel fees for venues 30 miles away or more and overnight accommodations if necessary.
Craft ingredients – Some vendors charge for craft ingredients they supply, including fresh garnishes for specialty cocktails.
Number of bartenders per guest
Hire one bartender for every 50 guests for a full liquor bar. Hire one bartender for every 75 guests for beer and wine service. Add barbacks to assist if the menu includes complex cocktails.
Party bartender gratuity and service charges
A service charge is a mandatory fee included in the bill, passed on to bar staff as a tip. A gratuity is optional but expected. If the contract does not include a service charge, add a 10% to 20% gratuity for the bar staff.
Mobile bartender equipment rental charges
The rental cost for mobile bartender equipment is $150 to $400, depending on the bar stations and equipment needed. Table-toppers are cheaper to rent, but portable bars offer useful shelf storage. Rental companies charge by the piece for bar supplies and glassware.
|Portable bar||$20 – $100|
|Table bar topper and linen||$20 – $60|
|Glassware (champagne flutes, martini glasses)||$2 – $5 per piece|
|Bar supplies (bus tubs, trash cans, ice buckets, tongs)||$2 – $4 per piece|
Wedding bartender charges
The average cost for wedding bartenders is $480 to $1,200 to hire 2 to 3 bartenders for 100 to 150 guests. Use fewer bartenders by limiting the alcohol selection to beer and wine with a signature cocktail and hiring barback assistants to help.
Frequently asked questions
How much to tip a bartender at a private party?
Most bartenders expect to earn 10% to 20% in tips in addition to their hourly rate. Let the bartender know if you don't want a tip jar at the bar and have cash on hand to tip the bartender at the end of the event.
What is a freelance bartender?
A freelance bartender works for themselves rather than for a company. Hiring a freelance bartender is typically less expensive. Still, it may require more work for you to arrange bar supplies, drink ingredients, and additional staff for larger events.
How to save money when hiring a private bartender
Allow a tip jar – Bartenders increase their hourly rate or add a service fee to recoup lost income when unable to use a tip jar.
End the party on time – Bartenders charge costly overtime if the bar service doesn’t end on time.
Hire barback assistants – Barbacks cost less per hour than bartenders to take care of ice, water, glassware, and restocking bottles and kegs.
Limit the bar offerings – Serve batch cocktails or beer and wine to reduce the number of bartenders needed.
Supply the alcohol yourself – It is cheaper to buy the alcohol than have the bartending service bring it. Don't forget to buy mixers, syrups, garnishes, and straws.
Finding and hiring private bartenders
Before hiring a private party bartender, be sure to:
Ask for referrals from friends, your event planner, or the venue manager.
Search online for a
with catered event experience.
Read their reviews on Fash and Google.
Select a minimum of two bartenders and schedule consultations with each.
Confirm the bartender is licensed to serve alcohol at your venue.
Hire the most skilled professional that works within your budget.
Do not pay in advance. Instead, negotiate a small deposit and make the final payment after the event.
Questions to ask
What is your hourly rate?
Do you have experience with large events?
Can you make elaborate mixed drinks?
Do I need to supply the ice, mixers, garnishes, and alcohol?
Do you have a mobile bar setup, or should I supply a table?
How many hours do you add for setup and breakdown?
Will you be wearing a uniform?
Do you carry liquor liability insurance?