How much does it cost to hire a bartender for a private party or event?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to hire a bartender for a private party or event?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to hire a bartender for a private party or event?

$30 – $50average hourly rate (per bartender)
$150 – $350 average total cost (4 hours)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$30 – $50 average hourly rate (per bartender)

$150 – $350 average total cost (4 hours)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tamatha Hazen
Written by
Tamatha Hazen
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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.

Bartender for hire cost
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

Get free estimates from bartenders for hire near you.

Average private event bartender rates

The following table shows the average cost of hiring a private event bartender.

Private bartender for hire cost - chart
Private bartender for hire cost - chart
Average private event bartender rates
National average cost $230
Minimum cost $60
Maximum cost $1,200
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.

Bartender hourly rates
Type Hourly rate
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.

Bartender mixing drinks for private party
Bartender mixing drinks for private party

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.

Mobile bartender equipment rental charges
Item Average cost
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

Get free estimates from bartenders for hire near you.

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.

Freelance vs. company bartender for hire
Vendor Pros Cons
Freelance bartender
  • Lower cost due to low overhead costs
  • Direct communication with the bartender to convey your expectations
  • Price may be negotiable
  • No minimum hours or guests required for booking
  • No written agreement/contract
  • May not provide drink ingredients (ice, mixers, syrups, garnishes, or alcohol)
  • May not provide a table and bar supplies like ice buckets, coolers, and glassware
  • May not carry liquor liability insurance
  • May not be able to provide additional staff for large events
  • No backup available if they cancel last minute
Company bartender
  • Guaranteed a licensed, trained, and experienced bartender(s).
  • All-inclusive packages available with a full bar set up (bar, alcohol, garnishes, ice, glasses, and straws)
  • Covered by liquor liability insurance for your protection
  • Able to staff large events
  • The company takes full responsibility for its employee performance, including timely arrival, courteous service, and complete cleanup.
  • The higher price includes a markup for company profit
  • Require a deposit in advance
  • Policies and restrictions with less flexibility
  • Minimum hours and event sizes may apply
  • Price is not negotiable
  • Direct communication with the bartender is not available before the event, risking that the bartender won't understand your expectations.

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

    professional bartender

    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?