Written by Robert Manchulenko Chief Officer of Hospitality & Support Services Niverville Heritage Centre & EPM Treasurer
Besides your venue, décor, flowers, linen and food one of the most important choices is what type of bar service you would like to offer.
Some of the most popular choices for bar offerings will give you the celebration you are looking for without breaking your budget.
The first type and most popular is the “open bar” or “host bar”. Your guests can choose what they would like to drink without worrying about the bill at the end of the night. To keep this under control, consider limiting the types of beverages available to order and you can also place parameters on the service times. Don’t forget that you will be responsible for the bill at the end of the function and your guests will usually consume more.
The second most popular option is the “cash bar”. In this option, the guest is usually not limited as to the options and is responsible to pay for the beverage at the time of order. Most events of this type offer complimentary table wine, or you can offer a signature drink that you will cover.
A third option is to offer a “toonie bar” where the guests are responsible to pay two dollars for each beverage ordered and the difference is paid at the end of the night by the organizer of the event.
Another way of controlling costs would be to offer a combination of a “ticket bar” and a “cash bar”. In this method the organizer pays for a set number of tickets that they can hand out to the guests. Any beverages ordered above this will be paid by the guests. With this method, the tickets are paid in advance and are usually not refunded by the venue if unused.
In Manitoba some venues may also allow the event organizers to apply for a separate liquor licence and can purchase the beverages for service themselves. With this the venue will usually charge an hourly rate for the bartenders and may also charge a “corkage fee” calculated on the number of guests in attendance whether they are drinking or not.
Whatever your choice, also take into thought that beverage service comes with responsibility. All service staff should be trained in responsible alcohol service. (SmartChoicesMB) The law also prohibits overconsumption and monitors this responsibility with unannounced inspections. A designated driver program or arranging a safe ride home for your guests is something you should also think about.
In the end its all about creating an event you can be proud of that will create memories for all that attend. Enjoy!