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How to Staff Events: 3 Options for Finding Event Bar Staff

December 20, 2021 by Joel Davidge

Even the most experienced event planners can find it difficult to know how to staff events. Looking at filling an event calendar which includes events right across the country? It’s tricky to find a dedicated staff pool with the skills required.

There are many options for finding event bar staff, though there are a few things to consider before you dive in.

With over a decade of experience in event staffing, we know goes into a successful event. Below, we break down our process so you can see how easy it is to book experienced cocktail bartenders.

What Are the Options for Hiring Bar Staff?

A bartender passes a cocktail in a rocks glass over the bar

If you are an event planner working with multiple venues and dates, you might recruit event bar staff to work directly for you. This means you consult directly with them and organise their calendar.

However, what about if you’re organising a one-off event like a wedding?

Hiring freelance bar staff could be a good option in this case, as it frees you from longer term commitments. However, you will need to organise adverts, review CVs, and ensure that you’ve sorted any invoices after the event.

The third option is to work with a bar staffing agency partner, such as The Cocktail Service.

Even if you’re working across multiple events, using a bar staffing agency means you’re easily able to fill the gaps in your rota. If your event is a one-off, then you’re ensured of a smooth and streamlined service, as well as an experienced and vetted bar team.

How do I hire bar staff with The Cocktail Service?

If you are thinking of hiring bar staff from a specialist staffing agency like The Cocktail Service, the first step is to contact us.

Either send us an email, call us direct, or fill out our enquiry form and one of the team will get back to you right away.

As experts at staffing for events, we understand that every event has different requirements.

We’ll assess your needs during a discovery call, and then provide you with a detailed quote with a full breakdown of costs.

How does staffing for events work?

A bartender team working at Bunga Bunga in sports wear

The aim of hiring bar staff for events is that they can arrive and slot into your existing operations as seamlessly as possible.

To enable this, our event planning team starts any enquiry by asking a range of questions about your upcoming event.

We take a bespoke approach to all staffing requests to ensure we tailor our solution to your needs. After all, each event is unique.

In our first call we’ll discuss topics including the venue, the style of service, and if you have any idea on the type of drinks you would like served.

If you have a strong concept in mind, we’ll be led by you, offering suggestions only where needed. However, with years of experience in 360 event delivery, we can also offer a full event planning service should it be required.

Once we have arrived at a concept for the event, we’ll then focus in on the details to make the day a success. Our event planners undertake detailed preparation for every event to ensure it is curated to the exact vision of our clients.

This is also the point where we lock in any event specific requirements. For example, if the event bar staff are required to flair, speak additional languages, or accreditation like DBS clearance.

Our team will then produce a bespoke proposal for you, including all the options discussed. This will include a comprehensive breakdown of costs, so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Experienced, professional event bar staff


After the drinks menu and other facets of the event are agreed, we then handover to our staffing team to find the perfect team for your event.

They use the skill requirements agreed during the discovery phase to sift through our national database of event bar staff.

Our staff for events come with a high level of experience in cocktail curation. Knowledgeable in every element of cocktail creation and history, they are able to engage guests whilst mixing up delicious drinks.

We have event staff at all skill levels, from bar backs and wait staff, to mixologists and event managers. Our recruitment team take great care in reviewing candidates’ experience to ensure that they meet the essential criteria for hiring a bartender.

We take a proactive approach to training and upskilling. After every event, our team leaders will provide detailed feedback on the team. We use this to identify areas for progression and growth. It enhances the skill base of the team, and keeps our workers engaged and motivated.

Team members at every skill level fill feedback forms. We use this information to improve our systems and offer feedback to team leaders. Our staff are what make events special. We like to provide them with other perks and incentives. For example, discounts for our bottled cocktail store.

Clients often ask for specific team members to return to their events, due to the enthusiasm and energy our bar staff bring to each event.

What is included in bar staff hire?

A cocktail tower with Espresso Martini cocktails stacked

The requirements for each event are different, so we’ll curate a bespoke package to include everything you require.

For example, if your event is in a location without a static bar, we can include bespoke bar hire. We can also have this decorated with your own unique branding if required. There are also options for bespoke uniforms, and specialist themed cocktails.

Using our network of industry leading suppliers, we have the capacity to organise the provision of all drinks stock required.

This means you can relax in the knowledge that everything is being taken care of.

Bar staffing structure

As experts in the bar staffing sector, we provide event bar staff at all skill levels. A key requirement when staffing for events is team management.

That’s why we devote a lot of resources to recruiting experienced bar managers, and training our existing team. We have several trained team leaders registered with us, with years of experience in event management.

If we’re the sole staffing provider for your event we’ll usually propose a team leader to manage service, and to act as your point of contact on site.

Once we have the details of your event confirmed our staffing team book in suitable team members.

At this point they will provide the team with event details; the team are then sent a written brief before the event. This includes venue information, event timings, and key event information.

All staff then arrive on site knowing their responsibilities and the aims for the day.

On arrival, the designated team leader will seek out the client and introduce themselves. Throughout the event they will remain in contact with you, checking that all is going to plan.

Before the event starts they will lead a briefing for the rest of the team. They reiterate roles and responsibilities so everything is clear.

The staffing team will book team members who meet the requirements set by you.

At the end of the event, the team will pack away any bar units and remove excess stock and equipment.

READ MORE: What are the different types of bar staff?

How much does it cost to hire bar staff?

In our initial consultation, we’ll assess the requirements for your event and then provide you will a quotation which includes a detailed breakdown of costs.

We’ll then review these with you to ensure you’re happy with the final costings. As well as the bar staff, there are multiple options for the style of service.

Our events team will be able to discuss your requirements and make suggestions on which style is most suited to your event.

These include a pre-paid bar, a pay bar and dry hire.

What is a Pre-Paid Bar?

A pre-paid bar is an ideal solution when you are looking to provide guests with complimentary drinks either for a limited time, or for the entire event.

If you’re interested in this option, our event planning team will discuss the number of guests and length of event to ensure we have enough stock on site.

The team leader will be briefed on the pre-paid total and once you get near to this, they can let you know.

Don’t panic if this happens! At this point you can choose to add more to the bar balance, which can be invoiced after the event. Alternatively, you can switch to a pay-as-you-go bar.

What is a Pay Bar?

A pay bar, also known as a pay-as-you-go bar, or cash bar is where your guests pay for their own drinks.

If you choose this option, we can provide everything needed to run this style of bar service.

We can provide the bar units, glassware for drinks, a bespoke drinks menu, fridges, and everything required for a successful event.

Dry Hire

Dry hire means that you provide the drinks and ingredients, and your bar supplier partner provides the rest of the items needed for the event: bar unit, staff, and glassware if required.

We have a wide range of suppliers and partners who can source most products available on the market, so if you’re looking for a bespoke drinks package, then let our event planning team know and we’ll likely be able to source it for you.

Find out more about our bar hire options

Hiring Bar Staff: In Conclusion

As we’ve covered, the right staff can make your event. Options range from sourcing your own staff to work with you across the events season, hiring freelancers for one-off events, or contacting an expert bar staffing provider like The Cocktail Service to provide an all-inclusive service.

Want to know more?

Contact our event planning team for a no-obligation chat.


The Cocktail Service is the UK’s premier bar staffing and drinks agency. Specialising in high-end luxury events, as well as large scale bar operations, they work on over 600 projects each year.


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