7 Cost-Cutting Tips When Planning Your Event Bar Services
If hearing “champagne wishes, and caviar dreams” is the closest you’ll get to living the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, but you still want to host a fun party, this post is for you. We’ll break down how to spend your money wisely to get the most value when it comes to organizing bar services for your wedding reception, retirement party, or any event where alcohol is served.
Whether you plan on hosting a PIY Bar (pour-it-yourself), or hiring a designated Bartender, here are some great tips on cutting costs – while still keeping bar services on par with all of your other planned details.
1. Hire a company who specializes in mobile bar services: Yeah, we know what you’re thinking, “A blog written by a Bartender-for-hire telling me to hire mobile bartending services – how accurate can this list be?” but hear us out. Hiring a licensed and insured mobile bartending service that isn’t just an add-on service or hiring a Bartender from your local pub, is actually usually cheaper (not to mention, smarter) route. How, you say? Well, if you factor in everything – including the time and money saved from the advice they can give – they will have all the supplies, tools, licenses, etc. that you will need to purchase in order to have a legal, well-functioning event.
Let’s start with the big one – insurance. Most venues require alcohol liability insurance and that is expensive if you try to purchase that on your own, however most credible mobile bar providers already have that insurance and lump that in with their service pricing.
Another is licensing. What permit do you need, what is the cost? Again, something provided by most bar services. Ice? Glassware? Wine Key? Keg Taps? Ice Bins? Again, all stuff included with your bar services.
Those are some cost-effective reasons why you should hire a mobile bar service specializing in bartending.
2. Champagne Toast vs. Drink-In-Hand Toast: Toasts and Weddings go hand-in-hand, and they are a great time for your family and friends to see you cry, laugh, or secretly check your watch when your Aunt Peggy’s toast goes on a bit too long. A drink-in-hand toast is a great way to cut costs – and still let people gush about how great you and your spouse look today, and how much they love you.
With a drink-in-hand toast, no extra champagne is needed, not as many flutes are needed, and it lets your guest choose with what they toast. Have champagne, or some bubbles, available, but no need to add more expense when you can just use what you’ve already been serving.
3. On the topic of champagne, look elsewhere: Champagne is what we all usually call it, but technically it’s “sparkling wine.” Champagne is just the region in France where some of the best stuff comes from and is widely known to most people – and therefore, sparkling wine from Champagne can only be called “champagne” and if it’s from anywhere else, it’s just “sparkling wine.” Although, some of the finest sparkling wine comes from Champagne, France, there are plenty of other regions and countries that produce some pretty great stuff too. California, Italy, and Spain are some great regions that produce great options – that are usually friendlier on the wallet. France makes Champagne, Spain makes Cava, Italy makes Prosecco, and California makes California Sparkling Wine. There are cheap options of champagne too, but as an average there are more options for less-expensive bubbles if you open the map a little wider. So whether you do a champagne toast, or just offer it as a drink choice, consider looking at the other regions without the pedigree.
4. Signature Cocktails rather than a full-bar: Having liquor and cocktails is a popular option that many hosts want to provide, but purchasing all the needed supplies and mixers can get pricey, and a lot of times, most doesn’t even get used. Signature Cocktails are a great way to offer a delicious option to guests without the price tag of a full-bar. Not to mention, a signature cocktail is a fun way to explore different ideas with your partner, showcase your personality with fun names or ingredients, and offer something a guest may have never tried before.
Along with keeping costs and supplies down, as mentioned, a Signature Cocktail can showcase your personality – but is also meant to be a way to satisfy most guests that may have different preferences, and also to reduce service time for each guest, so consider a syrup or tincture to add to a spirit and mixer – as to increase ease of making the drink for each guest, while creating a balanced cocktail. Here is an example of a delicious, and refreshing Signature Cocktail – The Genesis – that you can make at home, no matter your skill level. You can also purchase the pre-batched syrup in bulk for The Genesis, or any of the other syrups, via Kitsap Bartending Services HERE.
5. Research your beer and wine: Know what beer and wine you want to serve, and factor in the season, time of day, indoors/outdoors, and weather. We love a good porter, but it definitely isn’t something we want to drink on a hot summer afternoon. Same goes for wine, we love a bold, rich Cabernet, but not something that is going to be a big hit with guests on a warm summer day. If you don’t know, ask your Bartender, or better yet, go straight to the source – if possible. There are a lot of great breweries, distilleries, and wineries around, or at least, very knowledgeable staff at stores like Total Wine & More. Go talk to them, taste samples, and find something that you like and would be a good fit factoring in your preferences, what’s trending with drinkers, and what would fit with the season. They also can suggest good vintages, vintners, offer bulk pricing by the case, find a comparable labels, or offer kegs which are usually more cost-effective (see our blog post “Kegs vs. Bottles – Deciding Which to Use at Your Event“). Aside from finding something that people want to drink – and not just what is cheapest – will help you get the best value for the money you spent.
6. Keep your receipts: This may seem obvious to many, but not everyone – you can return most unopened alcohol. If you buy five cases of wine, but only used three, most places will let you return any unopened and undamaged bottles. Most of the time, people assume they’re stuck with the leftover alcohol, but that’s not the case (unintended pun). Always double-check before purchasing, but as a rule-of-thumb, un-tampered with and unopened wine bottles, liquor bottles, and cases of beer bottles/cans can be returned if it is unwanted and undamaged, so keep the receipts. Obviously, damaged labels and packaging wrappers probably won’t be returnable, along with opened cases of beer bottles, and almost-always kegs (even if un-tapped). It’s always better to over-buy supplies than to risk running out halfway through your event, but with keeping the receipts, you don’t have to worry about wasting money.
7. Consider your glassware: Chances are, if you’re reading this post, you’re not throwing a kegger at your college sorority, so you want it to be somewhat, if not completely, a bit on the classier side – but consider your glassware. Is it an outdoor wedding reception? Is it more informal – but above a keg party? Is it more important to have the finest wine glasses than an upgraded center-piece or more exotic honeymoon? If you don’t mind not having the finest glassware, consider using a “crystallized plastic glassware” set (HERE is a perfect example) – they come in wine, beer, and cocktail sizes. They are usually a perfectly acceptable cost-cutter at most events, and something to consider – and some bartending services even include them with their price.
After all 7 tips, to emphasize tip #1, these are all things a excellent mobile bar service can guide you with – not only helping create a successful and safe event, but also to provide a fun time for all while keeping the costs down.
Kitsap Bartending Services & The Bustender
I am planning my wedding for next spring and am looking at my bar options. I appreciate that you mentioned to hire a company that specializes in mobile bar services. I will look into this as an option and hopefully I can find the best service for my big day!