Signature Cocktails: 8 Simple Big-Hit Cocktails

There are several reasons why Signature Cocktails are an excellent idea to serve at your wedding: (1) It gives the newlyweds a chance to offer something fun and exciting to their guests that they normally wouldn’t try, (2) a short list of pre-determined cocktails will help speed up the ordering process and reduce the possibility of a growing line – especially for larger receptions and during the “rush times” immediately after the ceremony or before the drink-in-hand toast, (3) buying the ingredients for two cocktails is a whole lot cheaper than buying all of the spirits, mixers, garnishes, and glassware types for a full bar, and (4) hitting the town or working on your at-home bartending is a great pre-wedding date night to try out new cocktails – and gives you both a break from the stress of planning your wedding.

When brainstorming ideas, we wanted to put together a list that would be versatile for a variety guest preferences, easy to make for any skill level, used budget-friendly ingredients, while still being a tasty and balanced cocktail. We’ve put together a short list of 8 of our favorite cocktails that are determined to be a hit with your guests – some are our personal originals that you’re more than welcome to steal, and some are time-tested simple classics.

Not serving liquor? Don’t worry, we’ve added a few beer and champagne cocktails too!

1. Caipirinha – a cocktail rapidly growing in popularity in the United States, it is Brazil’s national drink, and a perfect cocktail for anyone who loves a well-made daiquiri, margarita, mojito, or any other refreshingly semi-tart drink. Although growing in popularity stateside, it is definitely a cocktail that is under-the-radar for many. Made with cachaça (a slightly smokey sugarcane spirit similar to rum), fresh lime, and sugar. Simple and easy – and definitely one of our favorites. Stick with the classic recipe, or experiment with many of the different riffs.
– via Esquire

2. New York Sour – not only is this a beautiful cocktail, but it also is a perfect twist on the not-very-original whiskey sour. A perfect combo of a fruit-forward red wine, the citrus tart, sweetness of simple syrup, and everything we love about a good bourbon or rye whiskey. Plus, it’ll probably help use up the bottles of red wine you may have over-bought for your outdoor, summer wedding. A big hit with any whiskey lover and a versatile drink for any type of weather or time of day.
– via Wine Enthusiast

3. The Genesis – this is one of our absolute favorites, and also one of our original cocktails. We love this cocktail because it is so easy to drink and easy to make. A rosemary-lemon simple syrup can either be the star with the neutral-flavor of vodka, or a perfect pair with a good gin or even whiskey. Very simple to make, while still holding a level of complexity. Pre-make the simple syrup with the included recipe or purchase any of our pre-batched syrups HERE if using our bartending services, or are local to the Pacific Northwest. By far, one of our most popular cocktails that we serve on a regular basis. Plus, if you have any non-drinkers or children, this also makes a delicious mocktail and gives them a fun option to feel included.
– via Kitsap Bartending Services / The Bustender


4. Grapefruit Shandy – a twist on the classic beer cocktail. This is a perfect way to add some variety to your menu, especially if you’d prefer not to serve liquor at your event. It’s almost too easy, but this recipe bumps it up a notch with fresh grapefruit, your favorite IPA (bonus points for a citrusy IPA), lemon-lime soda, and a couple drops of Bitterman’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters. Although you can stick with the classic lager and Sprite 50/50 mix, we like this combination best. It is also fairly low in ABV (alcohol by volume), so it is a perfect option for a long-haul day or for guests who want to partake without going overboard. Not an IPA fan? Try it with your favorite wheat beer (hefeweizen or belgian white).
– via Kegworks

5. Cuba LibreOK, we get it. A rum and coke garnished with a lime is far from creative – especially if you have Tom Cruise tending bar, but it is still a classic for a reason – it’s delicious and easy! However, if you put a spin on it, by pouring rum directly into a miniature glass Coca-Cola bottle it definitely makes for a fun and whimsical presentation. Simply open an ice-cold bottle, top with your favorite rum, and garnish with a lime wedge and you have one of the most picture-worthy cocktail line-up we’ve seen. When we saw this idea after a longer-than-we-will-admit Pinterest binge, we knew it just had to be shared. If you’d like, switch it up with your favorite whiskey! Either way, this will only work and be cute with one of the miniature glass bottles, and not one of your run-of-the-mill plastic bottles. The mini cans will also work in a pinch. Find the bottles online HERE.
– via Pinterest

6. The Nor’easter – although this is technically a classic fall-season drink, we think it is perfect all year long. It is one of our go-to’s when suggesting a drink that will be popular with a large variety of drinkers – even the people who aren’t typically in love with whiskey (especially rye whiskey). Although you can’t cheap out and go with the fake “pancake” maple syrup, you don’t need a whole lot, so you won’t need to buy much. Costco is a great resource and their in-house brand of real maple syrup is a perfect, inexpensive option. Add some rye whiskey, ginger beer, fresh lime juice, and a dash of maple syrup and you have one of the most popular drinks we serve. Watching guests’ reaction of their first skeptical sip is one of our favorite things to do – the look of “Oh great, this guy is trying to punk me” to slowly lifting it to their lips, and the look of wide-eyed shock and smile when they realize a hidden camera isn’t about to pop out from the corner will never get old to us.
– via Kitsap Bartending Services / The Bustender

7. Lavendar-Vanilla Champagne Cocktail – another shameless plug for our flavored syrups that you can order through us – or if you’d like to make your own, there are plenty of great lavendar-vanilla simple syrup recipes that you can pre-make and bottle to give an added dimension to a simple bubbly offering. We like to use prosecco or cava as a typically-less-expensive option to champagne but any will work perfectly. Simply add 1 ounce of the flavored syrup to any flute and top with your favorite bubbly and garnish with a twist of lemon. NOTE: If you choose to make the syrup on your own, we suggest doubling the lavendar and vanilla to what we see in most recipes to give it a more condensed taste without taking up space in the glass – which means more champagne – and also add the peel of a lemon to give it a citrus kick.

This is a great option for a fun toast option or a signature cocktail if you are not offering liquor. However, if you’d like to add an extra kick, add up to an ounce of a floral gin like The Botanist. Another great option for non-drinkers by creating a lavendar-vanilla fizz by adding club soda for the bubbles.
– via Kitsap Bartending Services / The Bustender

8. Pear and Mango Collins – admittedly, pear is one of our favorites and we can’t get enough of it – so we try to find as many ways to incorporate it into a lot of our cocktails, whether it be pear vodka or pear brandy – and this is one that is a great option for a warm, summer wedding. If you don’t have mango puree handy, or don’t care for it, add a little orange or pineapple juice with a splash of apple to give it a sweet and refreshing twist.
– via Absolut

Do you have another suggestion for a Signature Cocktail? Let us know because we’d love to try it!

Kitsap Bartending Services

Lex Lata: Navigating Event Liquor Laws & Permits

Lex Lata; latin for “as the law that currently exists”

When planning an event, learning all of the state laws and rules can be a bit overwhelming – especially if you aren’t trained in navigating the current rules, laws, and permit requirements. We’ve put together a few of the most-often asked questions to help make sure you have all of the proper licensing, permits, and needed information to host a legal and safe bar for your event – and act as a quick guide on how to navigate questions you may have.

A few notes before we get into details:
* This post and all answers are accurate as of April 3rd, 2018, and we will update any changes needed if rules/laws change – however, please reference the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board website HERE for up-to-date laws on event permits
* These are laws and suggested guidelines for Washington State ONLY – if hosting your event in any other state, this post may be used as a helpful guide, but holds no legal bearing and no guarantee of accuracy for your state (please contact your state Liquor Control Board).
* Kitsap Bartending Services, and many mobile bar services, provide all of the needed banquet permits, alcohol-liability insurance, and licensed Bartenders – so this guide is only needed for hosts that have opted to do it themselves and not clients of KBS or The Bustender.
* Check with your venue to make sure you are also abiding by their in-house rules – many venues require a hired, licensed Bartender, insurance, etc. – even if it isn’t the law in some cases – to make sure their venue is protected and ensure that nothing “gets out of hand” and helps reduce the chance of over-service
* With any event, WSLCB Agents can and do randomly stop in, so make sure you have a printed and signed copy of your Banquet Permit, Class 12 License (Bartenders Only), or Special Occasion License on-hand and readily available for inspection.

* These details are just the FAQ and highlights – more in depth questions can be answered by contacting the WSLCB hotline or email via their website HERE

So, you’ve decided to do-it-yourself and you need to find out how you can obtain the proper permits needed, make sure you’re obeying all laws, and help insure that your event goes smoothly. Or, do you just want to figure out your best options for bar service? This post will help you decide which route you’d like to go, and also guide you through the application process if you decide to DIY.

Sample of Banquet Permit Application

What is a Banquet Permit and do I need one? According to the WSLCB website, a Banquet Permit “(a)llows the service and consumption of liquor at a private, invitation-only banquet or gathering held in a public place or business. Banquet Permits are available online. Examples include weddings, company banquets, retirement parties, or club, organization or church events.”

So in summary, if you have rented a hall or venue, and this is a closed-to-the-public event where you will be serving alcohol to invitees only, guests will not be charged for anything (entry fee, any alcohol, or anything else available at the function). Think of it as an extension of your living room – if it could be an event held at your home, but you just don’t have the room for that many people so you rent a hall that does not already have a liquor license (aka no in-house bar), then a banquet permit is needed.

What if I don’t want to provide all of the alcohol and have a “cash bar” so guests can buy their own drinks? If you want to have a “cash bar” or “non-hosted bar” where guests can purchase their own alcoholic drinks, you have a few options: 1) Find a venue that has an in-house bar, where they are licensed to sell alcohol to guests; 2) Contact and hire a restaurant/bar/caterer that is permitted and licensed to sell their alcohol off-site (not at their restaurant/bar) – where they keep all sales and provide all required licenses; 3) Apply for a Special Occasion License (details HERE) that will allow a certified non-profit organization to come in and sell legally purchased alcohol where 100% of sales will go to the non-profit.

In other words, you, as a host, cannot sell alcohol yourself to help recover, or profit from, any cost of the event or its guests with ANY of the permit options.

How do I get a Banquet Permit or Special Occasion License – and how much does it cost? Both permits are available through the WSLCB website HERE. Banquet Permits are $10 and require a credit card for payment, along with venue and event details. Special Occasion Licenses are available with a valid non-profit organization UBI number and organization details, and must be approved by the WSLCB no later than 45 days before the event (this permit is usually for fundraisers or events where the event organizer wants to donate proceeds to a non-profit but still have alcohol available to attendees)

If I have obtained a Banquet Permit, do I need to hire a Bartender, or can it be a self-serve bar? No. Legally, if it is a private event, that abides by the rules of the Banquet Permit you do not need an outside, licensed Bartender. Again, check with your venue, as many require a hired Bartender to help prevent risk, over-service, and help “control” the pace of consumption.

Although you are not legally required, please consider hiring a licensed and trained Bartender, as they not only help set-up and serve guests, but they are also trained to spot signs of over-service, help with crowd-control if needed, and help prevent, or minimize the risk of, alcohol-related issues (anything from drunk driving to embarrassing themselves on the microphone).

Can I do a partial-hosted bar / Can I have a banquet permit for beer and wine, but charge guests if they want cocktails? It is possible, but not feasible – and most likely would be more costly than just going with a Banquet Permit and providing all alcohol. Many hosts inquire about this, if they are hosting their event at a venue that does not have an in-house bar, if they want to offer their guests alcohol but want to find a way to cut costs by only offering a “partial open bar.” However, the only way to legally provide this option, since you cannot have both a Banquet Permit AND a Seller’s License or Special Occasion License, is to hire a caterer/bar/restaurant that is permitted to sell alcohol and “run a tab” for all of the beer – or any option you want to “provide” – just as if you were buying a drink for everyone at a bar for full sale price and the seller keeps all of the sales from the alcohol the seller provided.

When hosting your event at a venue that does not have an in-house bar, we do NOT recommend this route, as it usually causes more un-needed paperwork, and more-times-than-not ends up costing more money to the event host.

I have the Banquet Permit, and it is a private event, do all state laws still apply? Yes. All hosts and guests must obey all state laws. The main ones, but not limited to are; 1) no one under 21 may consume or serve alcohol, 2) overly intoxicated people cannot consume alcohol, 3) no open alcohol may be consumed outside of the approved event area or venue property, 4) if there is extra alcohol after the conclusion of the event, it may be transported off of the venue in the trunk of a vehicle – out of reach of all passengers and driver.

Am I required to have a bar area where minors are not permitted with a barrier or separate room? With a Banquet Permit, no. Although the laws of minors not allowed to consume alcohol apply, you do not need to gate off a separate area, or “beer garden” at your private event. If using a Seller’s Permit or Special Occasion Permit, please inquire with the WSLCB.

As we mentioned, with Kitsap Bartending Services and/or The Bustender, Banquet Permits are provided, and obtained by KBS, with service fee and costs – along with alcohol-liability insurance. If you want to go the DIY route, please understand that you are required to navigate all permitting yourself. We strongly recommend hiring a caterer or mobile bar service to help navigate permits, and help reduce risk at the event and help maintain a fun and safe event.

Please review our other blogs HERE for cost-cutting tips and other event planning ideas – along with general bar-themed topics.

Pouring On a Budget? Some of Our Favorites Under $10

Unless you’re a trained sommelier or life-long wine aficionado, picking a good wine for an event can be a little (or very) intimidating. There are so many types of wines, a wide-range of quality, price spectrum, aging techniques, regions, pedigree, and even what is popular with guests – all that can make your head spin if you don’t know where to look.

There are a few factors to consider when putting together your list, and it’s not just price. Consider the weather – will the event be outside in the sun, or will it be inside in a climate-controlled banquet hall? Will there be a set meal served or will it be a variety of hors d’oeuvres? Consider what pairs with the meal or possibly a blend that will go great with a variety of flavors. Most importantly, factor in what you like, or what is trending with flavors by asking your local wine store or distributor – or mobile bartending service and hired Bartender.

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite wines that are great for larger events, but don’t taste “cheap” or low-quality, and will help find a happy medium for all guests and event details – while keeping your selection under budget and easy to find in larger quantities.

Note: We at Kitsap Bartending Services love wine and serve it a lot, so these are some that we love that also seem to be crowd-pleasers at most events – and are readily available at most stores and locations (or can be ordered). You may have your own, or some to add, but this is definitely a great starting point for bottles to try when selecting your list.

Reds Under $10/bottle:
Las Almenas Tempranillo – La Mancha, Spain- This fresh Tempranillo is young and fruit-driven, offering bright red berry and raspberry aromas, deep, vibrant and lively strawberry flavors on the palate. Well-balanced with a refreshing finish. Pairs wonderfully with chicken, pasta, and BBQ.

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend – Washington – This approachable and easy drinking red wine offers generous aromas of berries, cherries and currants. A plush framework of soft tannins supports the red and dark fruit flavors that leisurely give way to subtle notes of baking spice and mocha on the finish.

Bloom Vineyards Red Blend California, 2013 – Bright aromas of dried orange…a silky, lively, fruity medium to full-body and a seamless, appealing, medium-length sweet spice and citrus creme brulee finish with well-integrated, chewy tannins and light oak. A rock solid attractively styled red wine.

Alamos Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina- The nose offers bright black cherry aromas with light floral notes and a touch of toast. The mouthfeel is full and rich, with ripe, concentrated cassis and black raspberry fruit flavors interwoven with a touch of chocolate and sweet spice from light oak aging.

Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot – Columbia Valley, Washington- Classic Merlot aromas of spice, blackberry and cocoa carry through the palate of this complex artisanal crafted wine. The balance of oak and black fruits creates a velvety, seductive finish.

Whites Under $10/bottle:
Matua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough – 
Marlborough, New Zealand- A distinctive and aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, delivering bright and lively gooseberry and passion fruit characters with a hint of lime. The palate is well proportioned with refreshing tropical flavors.

14 Hands Chardonnay – Washington- Bright apple and floral aromas are complemented by light notes of vanilla and sweet butterscotch. Juicy pear and apple flavors give way to subtle touches of toast and spice and ends with a soft finish.

Cardiff Moscato – California- Cardiff Moscato is a delicious blend of exotic fruit flavors and sweetness served up in a pleasing light style. Always a crowd favorite, serve with appetizers and light entrees or after dinner with fruit and cheese.

Blanka Vinho Verde
– Portugal – This vinho verde is fresh and exuberant. It has zesty aromas of lemon and lime with notes of green apple and minerality. It is light bodied with juicy citrus and apple flavors and a crisp finish. It pairs well with ceviche, seafood or salad.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay – Washington- This well-crafted Chardonnay opens sharp and spicy, with light buy juicy fruit. Flavors of clean apple and pear run into hints of peach, then resolve with a creamy finish.

Bubbles, Rose, and Blush Under $10/bottle:
Cupcake Moscato d’Asti
– California- Vibrant and expressive with dominant floral notes and hints of bright fruit flavors — including peach, tropical fruits and lychee — this wine is soft and luscious. Just a hint of fine effervescence tickles the palate and balances the sweetness.

Rondel Brut Cava – Spain- More fruity than dry, this “extreme brut” is filled with soft peach and nut flavors, their fragrance lifted by floral tones of white lilies. Briny and fresh, the flavors last. Great served with dinner or as a toasting sparkling wine. Not too dry, but not too sweet.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Extra Dry – Spain- This sparkling wine is for those that like it “not too dry”. On the palate, it’s earthy and fruity with an essence of peach, melon and candied citrus flavors, culminating in a long, flavorful and smooth finish.

La Vostra Prosecco – Veneto, Italy – Immerse yourself in the juicy, irresistible flavors of apple, white peach and fragrant honeysuckle with La Vostra Prosecco. This inviting, bubbly sipper appeals to even the most selective sparkling enthusiast.


Chapoutier Belleruche Rose – Rhone Valley, France – Pure rose with flavors of cherry, bitter orange, and rose petal. Really freshness, has more fruit than a typical Provencal wine, with red fruit notes on the palate.

Low Hanging Fruit White Zinfandel – California- This White Zinfandel presents aromas of light red fruit and fresh strawberry. The wine is light-bodied with flavors of juicy watermelon and ripe raspberries that create an exceptionally refreshing finish.


In conclusion, find what sounds best to you. Ask your Bartender before the event, or go to your local wine store that has a knowledgeable staff, tell them what sounds best to you, give them the details of your event (season, time of day, indoors or outdoors) and find something you want to serve your guests that fits in your budget. Again, these are just some of our favorites, but you may have others so have fun and explore with your partner and/or family and friends.

*As of March 2018 all listed bottles were under $10 (before tax) and available at Total Wine & More, BevMo, and several grocery stores with a good wine department.




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.

The Genesis and a Margarita with a Hibiscus-Infused Salted Rim

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.

And finally,

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

Kegs vs. Bottles – Deciding Which to Use at Your Event

OK, now that you’ve set your date, picked your venue, and are ready to start planning the important stuff bar set-up and what you should serve at your event or wedding. Whether you are using The Bustender, Kitsap Bartending Services, or another service, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself – in regards to beer – is, “Should we get Kegs or Bottles?

Well, as you’ll see, there’s no right answer and no wrong answer – both have their own pros and cons, so it all depends on what you want to do. We’ll break down the differences to help you decide what you think will be best to work with your preferences, budget, guestlist, and effort you want to put in to finding a great beer selection.

So let’s break it down – which is it, Kegs or Bottles?

Keg Pros:
* Cost – Pending you have a larger event, kegs are usually the most cost-effective route. In Washington State, they usually range from $90-$180 for a half-barrel keg, and yield about 160 12oz. glasses of beer.
* Easier to Stock and Set-up – If you’ve ever tried to lift a keg, you know they are not light, but nothing a hand-truck can’t handle, or honestly, a couple of big groomsmen. One trip with the keg(s), and you’re set for the beer – no back-and-forth with boxes of 24-packs.
* Less Waste – If you use true glassware, there is virtually no waste, as the glasses will get washed and re-used, and the keg will get returned and re-filled for the next party. Even if you use plastic cups, they can be stacked and thrown out and be more compact than an equal number of bottles.
* Finding Beer – We have a lot of really great beer and breweries in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s a LOT of fun to go check out the local taprooms – or stores that let you sample – so, grab a group (bridal party and groomsmen outing?) or your partner, and go sample some local offerings to help find something you like, and want to serve – that may be something new, yet delicious, to everyone.
* Availability – If you are looking for a local microbrew or seasonal release, they sometimes only come in kegs – as bottling, labeling, and packaging, is a bit more expensive and usually reserved for more permanent brews in their line-up.

Keg Cons:
* Less Serving Variety – Let’s face it, not everyone has the same taste in beer. Some like a good, hoppy IPA, and others only drink Coors Light, while others let the weather and time of day decide what they want to drink. With keg(s), you have less opportunity to get a variety – unless you want a bunch of half-full kegs by the end of the event. There is a solution by getting 2-3 or smaller kegs to get a better variety, but that usually cuts in to the “cost effective” pro.
* Equipment – Now that you have the keg, how are you going to get into it? You can either use a hand-pump (pictured), or find a jockey box to use as a mobile tap system. Also, you need a tub to store the keg in before and during the event so you can surround it with ice.
* Before Event – The keg MUST BE COLD by service time. If it is not cold, it will be mostly foam, and practically useless. As basically a giant can, it needs to be kept cold just like a regular can – in a refrigerator or in a tub with ice on top. If using a keg, we suggest picking it up cold from your supplier the morning of the event, and putting it in a tub of ice immediately. It should be fine, as long as you keep ice on it (read: don’t put ice on it at 10am, and have it melted by noon, sitting in the sun until 3pm).
* After – “Now that was a fun party, but what do we do with the keg?” Well, whether you finish the keg or not, you have to return it to get the deposit back – so you either have a keg you can bring home as to not waste any extra beer, or you return a partially used keg and waste that delicious nectar inside.

Bottle Pros:
* More Variety During Service – So you want to offer a large variety of beers and ciders, then bottles is for you. You can have as many as your heart desires, and offer a large variety to your guests – including local micros, popular domestics, a few ciders, a Belgian, an popular IPA, and a shandy.
* No Equipment – With bottles, you need a bottle opener and a cooler, which your Bartender or mobile bar service company should provide.
* No Fuss Beforehand – Grab a couple cases and you’re ready to go. No need to store on ice overnight, just set them in the cooler with ice about an hour before the event and they’ll be ice cold by the time service begins.
* Better For Smaller Events – If it’s a small event, you won’t need enough to make a keg worth while as it is probably more than you can safely drink.
* You Can Return Them – No, you can’t return used bottles, please don’t even try – but, yes, you usually can return any unopened boxes of beer (same goes for wine bottles) to most reputable stores. It sounds weird to some, but if you have a bunch of leftovers, wouldn’t you rather have some cash in your pocket versus a bunch of beer in your garage? (ummm…. maybe not)

Bottle Cons:
* You Need More Room – During bar service you either have a bunch of beer sitting behind the bar in boxes waiting to be put in the cooler, or you need more coolers to put all the beer.
* More Waste – As touched on before, you need to make sure someone is checking garbage cans or recycle bins as the bottles can’t be compressed and take up more room.
* Cost – Whether you get a variety, or select bottles, beer sold in bottles is usually more expensive than buying a keg.
* Lack of Availability – As quickly touched on, not all beer is available in bottles and that can really hinder your selection.
* Bottles Can Break – If someone drops their bottle on the floor, especially outdoors, it will probably break – and if it’s in a gravel lot or rough cement, good luck trying to pick up all the glass. Again, something your Bartender should do, but it does pose a risk if any piece is missed.

OK, so now that I’ve read all that, how much beer should I get? Well, that’s another blog posting in itself – check out our post for “How Much Alcohol Should I Buy” for more bar ideas and information.

Hopefully, this helped answer any questions you may have had and helped you pick which route you want to go – it’s probably more information than you really wanted, but these are all important factors to consider when decided which it will be, Kegs vs. Beer!

Kitsap Bartending Services & The Bustender


Welcome to The Bustender!

Welcome to our page! We are excited to share our journey and future events with all of you. Aside from being a mobile bar, we are staffed with some amazing Bartenders, who are very passionate about their craft. We, as a team, believe that learning never ends, and we are always striving to learn more about the bar and service industry as a whole. This blog is to serve as a platform not only to introduce you to The Bustender, Kitsap Bartending Services, and our events, but also to showcase informative and fun posts about the local and worldwide industry. We hope you check in often to see what we’d like to share with you!

Bryan Whitaker
Owner & Lead Bartender

About The Bustender:
The Bustender is a custom-built mobile bar for hire that we had built out of our 1975 Volkswagen Bus. Our bar comes with all the set-up you’ll need – including our Bartenders from Kitsap Bartending Services – along with the decor, built-in ice bins, keg dispensers, cups, and general bar tools. Simply provide the alcohol you want served, and we will handle the rest. We take pride in providing an excellent service with a knowledgeable and friendly staff, that will be sure to impress your guests at any outdoor wedding or event.

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