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How much does a bartender cost?

Average cost in 20149: $170 See National


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The average cost for a bartender is $170. You are likely to spend between $100 and $285 total. Exact price may vary depending on your area and project details.

Updated August 1st, 2017

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Weddings, birthdays, corporate events, fundraisers, anniversaries, graduations and cocktail parties often require professional bartending services. Bartenders can be hired to help with small gatherings of fewer than 10 guests to large events with more than 200 people. Typical events include everything from casual backyard parties to formal affairs or club settings. A variety of factors affect the cost.


Some bartenders charge per hour with no minimum time requirement, while others charge for a minimum number of hours, with additional time offered at a flat rate per hour. For example, bartender David Wilkins typically offers set rates starting at $150 for four hours of bartending, then charges $50 for each additional hour beyond that time.

Number of guests

The more guests at an event, the more bartenders will be needed to efficiently provide beverages. EMP Bartending typically staffs one bartender for every 50–75 party guests. More complex drink menus will also affect costs. More bartenders may be needed to adequately serve crowds when they’re making cocktails that require more time per drink to assemble than pouring wine or mixing a basic drink.

Bar backs

Bar backs, or bartender’s assistants, help keep the bar stocked with alcohol, ice, glasses, garnishes and other items. Bar backs are typically recommended for larger events to keep the bar stocked and service flowing. The need for a bar back affects the overall cost, but rates are generally less per hour than for a bartender because the skills necessary to perform the job are not as high. For example, Party Services So Cal charges $25 per hour for bar backs as opposed to $35 per hour for bartenders.

Tip jar

Some bartenders charge higher hourly rates if tip jars are not allowed as a way to account for the loss of income this represents. Party Services So Cal quotes a higher rate per hour when tip jars are not allowed, depending on the event and number of people.

Holiday pricing

Bartenders charge a premium on holidays because of increased demand and to account for holiday pay. Here’s the tiered pricing offered by Beau Monde Staffing:

  • Standard pricing, one bartender for four hours: $120

  • Holiday pricing, one bartender for four hours: $180


Many bartending services also rent glassware, mobile bars and other items. It is generally standard, however, that bartenders include basic bartending tools such as a wine key, etc., in their costs. Here’s how Party Services So Cal breaks down rental prices for bar-related items:

  • Mobile wood bar: $95

  • Six-foot table bar topper and linen: $65

  • Glass champagne flutes: $3 per glass

  • Martini glasses: $3 per glass

  • Bus tubs: $2 each

Concierge service

For an additional fee, many companies will purchase the necessary alcohol, garnishes, mixers, cups and napkins prior to the event. Some provide this for a set fee, while others like Party Services and Staffing offer this service at 20 percent of the total cost of items purchased.

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Recent reviews

Lauren Alexis Oliveira

Lauren was an amazing bartender at my boyfriend's 30th birthday party!! She knows what she's doing - she's quick and efficient, and super fun and friendly. Everything you could ask for and more in a bartender at a private event. She gave tips beforehand which I so much appreciated (don't forget straws the size of your cups people!!) and was so easy to work with -- she put up with my pickiness on how I like my drinks made when I probably would have slapped me if I were her, and just had an awesome easygoing, friendly demeanor that everybody loved. She can do it all - she even brought her mobile bar that was absolutely perfect on our patio. I will definitely hire Lauren again and would 110% recommend her to anyone looking for a bartender to help at a special event. She exceeded our expectations and played a big part in making our evening and birthday celebration unforgettable. Don't settle for someone else offering a cheaper rate -- remember, you get what you pay for. Lauren offers a super fair rate for top of the line service - at the end of the night I was SO happy I hired her instead of the lower cost alternative. She is worth it!!!

Shake It Up

Lindsey is professional and prepared. We collaborated on a campari-themed cocktail menu and everyone loved each one. She does charge $35/hr to shop for alcohol, so I could have diffused the cost a bit by doing some of the shopping next time, but I'd hire her again for sure!

Sharon Sincavage

Sharon was wonderful to work with! She really wanted to get everything just how we liked it. We probably exchanged 30 emails in the months prior to the event. She also arrived nice and early to get everything setup and didn't forget any of the details we discussed. Our guests commented about how friendly the bartenders were and the cocktails were mixed correctly. My one complaint is that she kept asking for more money throughout the process. These increases were justified (no tip jar, a long drive, need for an assistant), and her price was still very reasonable and well worth the cost. It just would have been nice to get a more accurate initial quote, but perhaps this is a relic of the thumbtack system? A second comment to those purchasing their own alcohol and hoping to return extras - please let Sharon know and I'm sure she'd be accommodating. She is great to work with! This was one detail I forgot to mention and it cost us several opened-but-unused bottles of wine and alcohol (likely since her priority was quick, efficient service to our guests). This was our failure to communicate since my impression is that Sharon will do anything to make your day go smoothly!