**Jamison Events does not promote or encourage alcohol & the following post should be taken without cause. We do not claim any financial, medical or other liability for this post. Aka.. The Vodka made you do it... not us!
Here are some of my industry secrets to an event bar-
Often our clients will chose a location for their event, where they have the opportunity to bring in their own Wine, Liquor and Beer. There is both good and bad to this, depending on the corkage rates, your guests (are they expected to drink a lot?) and any additional fees that could be associated. So, let’s talk BYOB.
First off, let’s talk about why BYOB could be more inexpensive. Traditional markup on a bar can be up to 30% at restaurants and even up to 40% for banquet events. The reason it can be that much is because traditional markup on almost anything else… is 25%! Bar tabs are big money in the food and beverage industry. So, bringing your own beer, wine and liquor CAN be a money saver. Especially if that venue will allow you to take home any unopened bottles. **note- In California and most states: its illegal for the venue or bartender to give you opened bottle that is not consumed there, its also illegal for you to drive home with an open container, so don’t expect, even if there is a full bottle of Vodka, if its opened, it to be given back.
The question is-how much do I buy? Most of the time going to Costco or BevMo will be your best bet of purchasing bottles. There are some Liquor and Beverage stores you can work with too. Below is a cheat sheet, I have made to make it as easy as possible when purchasing at the store.
Important to note-You know your guests best-meaning, I’ve had Weddings who have used this sheet and ran out, I’ve had Events who have used this sheet and it’s been too much. So, be extra aware of your guests and purchase more or less, depending on the expectation.
Additionally-this sheet is based on a full bar (beer, wine and liquor) so if you are purchasing beer and wine only. I suggest purchasing higher amounts, to have enough.
Things to consider-Mixers and Garnish. Some venues will offer the mixers and garnish for a small fee. This may be a good option, so you do not have to do day of purchasing of limes, etc. Plus, if you are bringing in the garnish, will the bartender slice the limes? All questions to ask, before making a decision to bring in your own bar.
How can BYOB be MORE expensive? If you have a group that will drink. I mean DRINK. I suggest having the venue provide the bar. Typically, the per person cost is about $48 per person for 5 hours. This estimate includes the service fee and tax. That may seem like a lot on paper, but once you have purchased the beer, wine and liquor at the store, plus the mixers any garnish, paid for the staff, bartender and the taxes, for a heavy drinking crowd, it can be pretty comparable.
There is a good way to save a little money on your bar (IF your venue allows it). I suggest hosting (aka OPEN Bar) for the first three or four hours of the event, and offering the bar on consumption for the last two hours. Typically this means the bulk of the drinks will go in the first few hours, once the bar goes to consumption, the bartender will literally keep track of every drink. You are charged per drink (not the guests, you). But normally, in the last two hours, is when majority of the guests slow or stop drinking. Offering it to be a better option than fully hosting the bar. I suggest offering a $1200 bar tab to the last two hours on consumption. (based on 150 guests) Now, if your venue will offer a consumption refund for the amount not drank, perfect. Meaning, you tell the venue “I want to pay $1200 towards the last two hours of bar on consumption,” and your guests only drink $900, will the venue offer a refund of the $300. If they do not and you can add that night, then do a $500 tab and add as needed.
Most venues will offer a package with the Bar included. While the bar can be a place to rethink and save, I suggest not overthinking the bar. When all is said and done, you and your guest want to enjoy the night. Worrying about how much is drank, the bar tab, if you’ve run out, can really put a damper on the night. At Jamison Events, we will make a plan together to best serve your event and budget. It’s important to me that once this is planned out, its done. I never want the BAR to be a source of stress at any event.
Important Note-YOU are in charge of your event and your guests. If you are the contracting party/host, it's your responsibility to make sure (along with the venue and bartender) that your guests are practicing safe drinking. I ALWAYS recommend offering your guests a way home that is safe, after offering a bar, even if they have only had ONE drink. Additionally, I suggest closing the bar during the last hour of the event, to allow guests some time. before making their way home It’s important that you do not allow drinking for guests under 21 and that the venue/bartender asks for I.D. per the law. You personally could be held liable. Jamison Events does not encourage or promote alcohol consumption.
For more insider Bar secrets and ways to make your Event incredible email me!