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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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Millions of people ask Thumbtack for help with their projects every year. We track the estimates they get from local professionals, then we share those prices with you.