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Choosing a Professional Bartender for your Party or Wedding? Here's what you need to know before you book!   

by Courtney Green

So you're having a party or wedding and you're looking to hire a Professional Bartender to take care of your guests? Great choice! But how do you evaluate Professional Bartenders and which service should you choose? Afterall, it is a profession not many people are terribly familiar with. Here are the questions you should ask before you consider hiring a Professional Mobile Mixologist. Make sure your Bartender meets all or most of these requirements. Otherwise, you aren't getting your money's worth:

Experience & Training

Make sure the Bartender you hire has actual experience bartending and training. They don't need to have years and years of experience (though that's a plus) but they do need at least a few months experience in an actual bar or bartending private parties. The training at Bartending Schools can be very valuable for private parties as well. A graduate will at least know how make the drinks your guests will request. Make sure to ask your Mobile Bartender what kind of experience and/or training he or she has and make sure they have at least 6 months under their belt of actual bartending.

How do they answer the phone?

This is an important detail. Many Private Party Bartenders own their own business and their personal phone might be their business phone as well. That's perfectly fine, but beware if they answer with a mumbling "hello". This screams unprofessionalism which might leak over into other areas of their business. Make sure they answer the phone with their business name so you know who it is you're talking to.

Business Website

Here is another important detail. Does the Bartender you're considering have a website? You don't have to entirely discount them if they don't but be a little leery. Afterall, you won't know what they look like, what kind of services they provide or anything else until you call them. If they do have a website, what does it say about them? A website is important because you can gather the details of their business including contact info, pictures, video, testimonials, links to other party professionals and/or articles, plus you can tell that they take their business seriously. It's even better if they offer you free advice right off their website. If it offers sketchy details, no pictures and doesn't give you a straight answer then check out the local competition's website.


Highly important. How quickly do they respond to your emails and phone calls? You don't want to have to hunt them down if you have an important question. If they don't respond to your initial request within 24 hours then move on to another Bartender.

Willingness to Travel

Is the Bartender willing to travel to your event? Does he or she charge a gas surcharge to come to your event? Find these details out beforehand. A gas surcharge isn't necessarily a bad thing especially if they offer better services than your local Bartender, but make sure it isn't more than $40 or at least isn't more than what you're willing to pay.


Your Private Party Bartender should at least have General Liability insurance. Liquor Liability is also a plus, though not entirely necessary in certain states. Don't choose a Bartender unless they have General Liability insurance.

Responsible Vendor Training

Your Bartender for hire should also have some sort of responsible vendor training for alcohol under their belt such as ServSafe or TIPS. This way they have a good legal sense about what they're doing and it could prevent some bad situations from occurring.

Small or Large Business Preference

Hiring from a large bartending business can be a good thing because you know they have a lot of experience, probably great testimonials and happy customers, and chances are they'll have a bartender or two for your event without saying "we're booked out for that night". However, the person you talk to on the phone probably isn't going to be the one bartending at your event, and the average employee might not be as inclined to provide exceptional service since they generally don't work on tips but on an hourly wage. On the other hand, a small bartending business may be new to the field and might not have as much availability or resources. But chances are the actual owner will be bartending your event and therefore will be far more inclined to give great service since the name of their business is at stake and they are trying to build their business. It doesn't really matter which you choose but these are things to think about.

How soon will they arrive?

Make sure your Bartender-for-hire arrives no later than 30 minutes prior to your event. One hour before is even better. Otherwise, there's no telling if they'll be on time or not.

Bartending Supplies

Make sure your Mobile Bartender brings their own supplies including all mixing supplies, speed pourer spouts for liquor bottles, wine key, bottle opener, garnish tray, towels, ice bins, knife and cutting board (for garnishes), and a blender at a minimum.

Portable Bar

Do they offer a portable bar? If you don't need one then this issue won't be a big deal but if you do, make sure they have one available for your event. Also, make sure they don't charge more than $50 extra for this service.

Custom Shopping List

Every Bartender should give you a free customized shopping list right after you book. Make sure it includes not just alcohol products but measurements, garnishes, accessories and brands. The more guidance they provide, the better.

Custom Cocktail Menu

This is a great bonus to have. If you wish to have a cocktail menu, having a Bartending Service provide one for you based on your specifications is an awesome service to have. Make sure it is provided at no additional charge. This extra would certainly save you some time and money compared to finding a graphic designer.

Party Planning Advice

This is must have for a Private Party Bartender. They should be able to provide you with answers in a timely manner about any party planning question concerning the bar that you may have. If they don't, then don't waste your time.

Preferred Vendors

Bartenders should have a list of other party professionals with whom they network and should be able to refer you to a reputable photographer, DJ, Event Planner or any other Party Professional in your area should you need one.

Free pre-party setup

This is a plus and can save you money. Bartenders should be able to arrive an hour early and set-up for free.

Options (Packages)

Does your Mobile Bartender provide you additional options or packages? Gowith a Bartender that is flexible and gives you options for a bar, garnishes and plastic ware should you need it. Having a list of services speaks well of a bartending business' level of commitment and the quality of their service.


How will your bartender appear? Most Bartenders are dressed with the traditional bow tie and vest even if they're female. If you want a different look, make sure you find out ahead of time if they're flexible in how they can dress for your party.

Prices & Gratuity

Though you don't want a Bartending service to leave a horrible gash in your wallet, don't go with a cheap service either. The services that cost more will usually deliver more. Also, you should expect to pay more if you live in an affluent or a high cost of living area. However, make sure you get the most bang for your buck. If a Bartender service charges $300 for 4 hours plus gratuity yet doesn't provide you a shopping list, cocktail menu, a list of preferred vendors, advice as you ask for it, they have no flexibility and charge for pre-party setup, find another Bartender. Also, go with a Bartending service that requires gratuity. Even though it's extra money that you or your guests will pay, that Bartender will be more motivated and far more inclined to provide great service. Like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for and if you want premium service, expect to pay premium prices.

I hope this article helps those of you looking for a Private Party Bartender for your party or event. Make sure the Bartender you're considering meets most if not all of these needs.

About the Author

Courtney Green is a Private Party Bartender and Owner of Premium Pour Mixology based in Birmingham, Alabama. She also provides party planning advice and writes articles published at

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