i’m your private ‘tender…

On December 19, 2010, in bartending, by Stephanie

I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times about New Yorkers hiring bartenders for private parties. Now, the first thing I want to say is I think that some of the people they quoted were….well, I hope for they were deep in their cups when they said some of that stuff.

There is absolutely no problem in my eyes to just taking a table and piling it up with a few bottles of wine, beer, some vodka and a couple juices and letting your guests pour for themselves. That said, I know from the parties I’ve worked as a bartender, your guests will love the feeling that you went all out. A bartender can help you out immensely; a good one will circulate, pick up cups and keep the party looking good late into the night. They’ll keep an eye on your guests and make sure none of them overindulge, and warn you if there’s an issue with Dave, even if it is only his third beer tonight (where ‘tonight’ is technically true, but he only started drinking 45 minutes ago).

They’ll also help you figure out what to buy; a good bartender has learned lessons about ice and alcohol, and what you should lay in. They’ll help you keep things under control so you don’t buy far too much tequila and not nearly enough gin. For additional fees, they will often prepare and bring fresh juices, bar mix, their own supply of bitters, and all the ‘behind the bar’ tools, so you don’t need to worry that you don’t have a muddler and a julep strainer when the discussion turns to Mark Twain’s preferred tipple.

Generally, this can be had at a fairly reasonable rate; In Boston, expect to pay around $25 an hour as the flat rate, for the bartender. Be prepared to tip on that, and remember that should include before and after services – you must pay for the time they spent squeezing limes and prepping garnishes for you at their home that afternoon, the hour they set up during, and the time after the party wound up where they cleaned up and washed your glasses while you said goodnight to your last guests.


2 Responses to i’m your private ‘tender…

  1. Imani says:

    That is shockingly less expensive than I would have initially assumed, though the alcohol would probably make up for that nicely.

    • Stephanie says:

      That’s a Boston rate, and does depend on tipping happening (that might be from the guests, or from the host). A bartender generally earns about $1-2 a drink in a bar (most cocktails around here are $7-14), and in a bar could earn $20-30 an hour on a busy but not killer evening doing dinner cocktails (faster in a bar; I’ve done 10 drinks in as many minutes). Tipping should reflect that.

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