Working as a bartender at private events can be a lot of fun – but it can also be nerve-wracking! You may not have all of the equipment, ingredients, or space that you’re used to.
This week I thought it would be helpful to talk a little about what I bring when bartending off-site events, (or basically any bartending gig that’s not located at my normal bar.)
Here’s what to bring for your next Offsite Bartending Gig!
Tips for Bartending Private Events:
- Over communicate with your client/customer to make sure you are both in agreement on what services & cocktails you will be providing. Don’t assume you (or they) understand already – you’d be surprised what’s obvious to us, but that event planners may not know! (As an example, I was once given a champagne bucket of ice to serve cocktails for 300 guests!)
- Even if you think you know what’s going to happen, still come prepared for anything. I would recommend bringing all of the items discussed here regardless – worst case, leave them in your car!
- Finally, remember: for every event that you execute well, you’ll be called for another one – so being prepared can absolutely pay for itself! Be prepared & flexible and you will quickly gain a great reputation & lots of future event gigs!
Private Event Checklist:
Our checklist is out of date, but check out this much newer post for a better list of what you should bring!
Used your tips and recommended tools for a private event last night that went off without a hitch! Thank you so much, Chris! The ice cooler tip is worth it’s weight in gold: clean up was quick and efficient, and I was out the door. Thanks again, and keep up the great work on this site.
Thanks for the comment Brandon, and congrats on a successful event. I agree, the ice cooler should be the first piece of equipment that anyone should invest in if they are going to do private events. Let’s be honest, we’re bartenders, we should all have a amazing ice cooler…..it’s kind of expected 🙂
Hi Chris, when would you recommend buying a portable bar ?
Hey Mike, if I were to buy a portable bar, it would be because I was going full time catering or doing private events very frequently (where a bar was not provided by the venue.) That said, I have never had the need to have a portable bar in the past – I’ve always worked events where a bar (or table) was provided.
You don’t have to spend a ton on making an nice presentation with your own portable bar. I bought a black 6′ folding table from Walmart $32, I cover this with a black linen $8, I put a milk crate at each end (free or cheap), and place a 6′ x 12″ x 3/4′ plank on them ($15) and cover the crates and plank with another black linen $8. Total beautiful portable bar $63. Tips from your first party will cover it.