We have compiled the 10 most common mistakes made when planning the bar at an event.
Hiring a company to provide a mobile bar service can be an expensive business and many take the plunge to organise the bar themselves at their wedding or event.
The bar is an often overlooked element of any event and in our opinion it's the most important. So read on for our tips on how to avoid the most common mistakes.
1. choosing the wrong drinks menu
Don't be fooled, this is one of your most difficult decisions and most get it wrong. Simplicity is key. Do not go over board and keep menus under 8 drinks. too many drinks means slow service and products running out if popular. make sure your menu is also on display on the bar top so guests can choose while they wait. For a little bit of menu inspiration visit the home of the discerning drinker, The Diffords Guide.
2. buying the wrong drink ingredients
Critical - get the right ingredients. there are plenty of recipes on this website to help guide you on the ingredients or if its a standard bar make sure you get all mixers and fruits needed for the drinks. If you skip any ingredients, it will ruin the drinks. Worse still do not skimp on quality ingredients either. Its sacrilege.
3. not buying enough drinks
The thing that keeps people up at night...running out of booze. Now honestly, there is no magic formula but consider these things:
- Guest Numbers & Demographic (split demographic simply into drinkers and non drinkers)
- Event Length
Now the trick is to consider "how many drinks per head"
We work on the following ratio:
Moderate Drinkers: 2 drinks per head per hour
Heavy Drinkers: 3-4 drinks per head per hour
Now we have our drinks per head, we need to look at our menu (see above) and breakdown the drinks. For the sake of this post we will consider a bar serving beer, wine and spirit/mixers. We are going to split the drinks equally but adjust any ratios to suit your guests tastes.
Lets imagine 75 guests, all moderate drinkers, for four hours of service:
8 drinks per head x 75 guests = 600 drinks
200 x Wine (contains four 175ml glasses per bottle) = 50 bottles
200 x Beer (contains 24 bottles per case) = 9 cases
200 x Spirits (contain 28 single measures per bottle) = 8 bottles
200 x Mixers (contain 6 x 150ml measure per litre) = 34 litre bottles
Always, round your numbers up...not down. We also tend to add 20% additional contingency for peace of mind. Virtually every supplier will allow returns on undamaged stock.
If you plan on serving cocktails, the company you hire the cocktail bartenders from, will assist with drink ingredients and numbers.
4. Forgetting the Water
Water is kind of a big deal for the human race. Its also as important, when said humans have been drinking a skinful. Please make sure you arm the bar team with plenty of bottled water for your guests, this will become particuarly important at the end of your event.
5. Not buying enough ice
Agggg. A warm drink is the ultimate mood killer. Running out of ice is the ailment that will turn delicious beverages into an undrinkable ruin. Fortunately, the cure is simple. Buy enough ice.
Ice quantities break nicely into two categories for consideration- Drink Ice and Chilling Ice.
We are going to work to our standard 12kg bags of ice.
Cocktails: 40 drinks per 12kg
Spirit/Mixers: 60 drinks per 12kg
Chilling Ice: 12kgs per 15L chilling tub per hour (up that to x2 if its hot)
How easy is that?
6. running the bar with amateurs
First things first. Make sure you get the appropriate staff to run the bar. Whether its standard drinks or cocktails you will need a professional to run the bars. Don't skimp on this, as we have seen bars be overwhelmed, when run by your friends 18 year old daughter from the village. There are 100's of bartender hire companies out there. Use them.
7. not hiring 'enough' staff
Very important. You have to ensure adequate ratios of staff to guests. We typically recommend 1 bartender per 35 guests for a standard bar and 1 mixologist per 20 guests for a cocktail bar. Under staffing is the most stressful mistake. It stresses the organisers, the guests and the staff.
8. not hiring a bar back (what's a bar back? See below)
So you have hired your bar staff and they are ticking over nicely at the bar making drinks constantly. All seems to be going well until you look around halfway through the event and there are piles of dirty glasses. The aesthetics are ruined and this problem will juts get worse and worse.
This is a very common problem. Bartenders primary concern is keeping the drinks flowing. If they are busy, they will not be collecting glasses. make sure you have provision for a helper...or in the techie industry lingo a Bar Back. Back backs not only can assist the bartenders with replenishing ice, stock and glasses but importantly they ensure the event floor is kept spick and span.
9. Not giving the bar structure and location enough thought
Making and serving drinks to a volume of people requires plenty of bar space. When considering the actual bar we suggest looking at 2m of counter per 50 guests. Your best bet is to hire in a bar that is built for the job (trestle tables are no good) and ensure this bar has plenty of space within it and minimum 1 shelf for ice/ingredients during service. A back bar is also needed for other storage but this can be a trestle table with boxed in linen.
Critically though, locate the bar in the right place. Bar operations use a lot of equipment, glassware and stock. So much in fact, that its extremely rare that you can fit it all on the bar. easy and discreet access for the bar teams to a back of house storage area is really important.
10. Ordering the correct glassware
Glassware comes in all shapes and sizes. when ordering glassware you must order the correct items. With cocktails this is non negotiable. Take advice from your bartender hire company when ordering glassware and know the distinctions:
Rocks/Tumblers: these are short glasses and typically we would suggest a minimum size of 10oz
Highballs/Slim Jims/Collins Glasses: these are the taller glasses you would typically recieve a double spirit/mixer in. Aim for 12oz in size.
Martini/Coups: the classic cocktail glass. Size wise we need to be careful- don't go too big or too small. We think 5-8oz will be spot on.
So if you follow the above, we think you are in with a good shout.
However, if the above feels like a minefield you can always CONTACT THE TEAM at The Cocktail Service who will be happy to offer advice or produce a quote for any element including cocktail bartender hire, mobile bar hire and supply of drinks. Alternatively to Find our more check out our BARTENDER HIRE page on the site.