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How Much Does a Bartender Cost?

When hiring a bartender for a party or event the fees can vary to some degree.Just what you wanted to hear right? I don't like long drawn out answers either, but here I'll try to quickly summarize what it might cost you to rent a bartender for a night with friends, a wedding, or private event.

If you take a look at the hourly rate data from the bartenders listed on our main site atBartend My Party, the hourly rates range from around $7 per hour to $50 per hour plus tips.  Many bartenders will quote a flat rate price, and many will simply say that it is negotiable. Overall, the scenarios that usually play out are flat hourly rate, hourly rate plus tips, flat rate for the night, and negotiable.

The most common bartender rate for private parties and weddings would be a flat hourly rate. Many times this comes direct from the party planner who would prefer not to have their guests viewing a tip jar or feel obligated to tip at all. If the hourly rate is fair, then the host of the event has in essence 'bought' the tip jar off the bar.  Another option to keep the tip jar away is for the host to agree to a fair hourly rate and give a lump sum tip to the bartender for their services, so that guests do not feel obligated to do so.

If you are on a tight budget you can still have a fantastic event by negotiating a lower hourly rate and allow the bartender to include a tip jar. A bartender is no stranger to tips and they realize that working harder for the customer means a bigger tip... usually. Having a tip jar at your event is purely personal preference and set by the circumstances of your party.

Bartenders, like many service oriented professions, may also simply charge a flat rate for the night. In the end a bartender can usually look at it like this; they could be in the bar they work at grinding it out to make their nightly wage, or get a taste of something different, meet some new people, see new faces and get a guaranteed flat rate for the night.

Because each event is so unique a bartender can often resort to the classic, 'my rate is negotiable.' The reason is that a wedding with 150 rowdy guests, 1 bartender, a 45 minute drive, set-up/cleanup, and a requirement to have frozen daiquiri's and pina colada's should NOT pay the same as a causual backyard get together of 20 friends in which the host wants to impress with hiring a bartender.

So how much does a private bartender cost? The quick and dirty answer is an average of $20 an hour. Beware, there are many variations to this! Your best bet is to head on over to the main section of Bartend My Party and start contacting some bartenders. You can list your event for free and the bartenders will let you know what they charge.

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  • William Sunday, 24 March 2013

    Come on guys, no actual bartenders work for $20/hr......and if they are worth their weight $20+ tips isn't going to cut it close either. The sad fact of the matter is it takes years for someone to truly become a personality behind the bar that is knowledgeable about their craft, can be inventive and improvise on the spot, and is able to accommodate large crowds. To top this off, even if there was a tip jar, at most private functions where the bar is open, guests tip much less than they normally would since they are getting the drinks for free they assume the service is taken care of. Any actual party bartender out there should also be insured, certified, licensed, and bonded so that they and your guests are protected and you won't have to worry about what happens after the party is over. Know your bartender, know you're safe.

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