Organizing any type of large event or public function requires a great deal of planning. Whether it is a wedding reception, fund raiser, or a meeting for corporate investors, there are plenty of decisions that need to made early to ensure that your event is a success. Many of these decisions are common to all events. Regardless of the function it’s necessary to book an event space, hire a caterer, and choose the décor. One thing that often gets overlooked in preparing for a large event is the need for experienced bar-tending staff to serve your guests throughout the evening. In the rush to book a venue, decide on a catering menu and arrange for speakers or entertainment, the bar often gets pushed to the bottom of the list of things to do. But providing liquid refreshment for your guests is as important as choosing the event’s menu. For many people, hiring a bar-tending service is out of their comfort zone, so a few tips are in order to make the process less stressful and easier to organize.

First Stop – The Venue

Regardless of the type of event you are planning, one of the most important decisions is the choice of venue. Hired event spaces are designed to accommodate a variety of functions, from weddings and anniversaries to trade shows and civic fund raisers. Their strength is in their versatility. When it comes time to book an event hall, there are a couple of fundamental questions that need to be asked. Beyond the general use of the facilities, it is important to know if the venue offers catering services, and if they are licensed to serve alcohol. If you want to have a wet bar at your event, the venue will have to have an active alcohol license. If they do not, you will have to consider booking a different event space. If they are fully licensed, it is important to find out if their catering service includes wait staff and bartenders, and that they are fully trained in serving alcohol. If the venue does not have bar-tending staff on-site, you will need to hire an independent bartender for your event.

When hiring a bartender for any event it is important to know if they have been professionally trained. In many states it is possible to advertise your services as a bartender, without any kind of licensing or certification. So it’s important to interview prospective bar staff to be sure that they have the training necessary to run a wet bar properly. Avoid amateurs, as this will cost you money in the long run. Self trained, or amateur, bartenders tend to over pour their drinks which will lead to a spike in your wet bar costs. You also have the welfare of your guests to think about, and a bartender who doesn’t know how to serve alcohol responsibly can mean trouble as the evening progresses.

Here are some questions to ask when interviewing prospective bartenders:

  • Do they have their own bar kit? Professionals should have all the tools of their trade, including pour spouts, cocktail shakers, strainers, bar towels and knives to cut the necessary garnishes.
  • What kind of experience do they have? This is important, as there is a big difference between serving beer in a pub, and being well versed in a variety of popular mixed drinks. The bartender you choose should have a solid background in serving mixed drinks, and should have the most popular drink recipes memorized.
  • Do they have experiencing serving a variety of age groups? A good bartender should be versatile, and should be able to accommodate any gathering. Being able to serve shooters at a college bar does not necessarily prepare you for serving champagne at a wedding. Check their backgrounds.

As you interview potential bar-tending staff, be sure that they understand that their appearance matters, and that they will be expected to dress and acquit themselves in a professional manner. It is also important to make certain they understand that they will be required to keep the bar stocked with alcohol, mixers and garnishes throughout the evening, and that you expect them to manage the bar to your predetermined budget.

A wet bar, with a good bartender and staff, can add a lot to any gathering. But it is important to plan ahead, and take the time to find the best people to fill those positions. When hiring a bartender and staff for your next event, don’t settle for anything less than well trained professionals.

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