How to Start a Bartending Business

by Anne Marie Bailey; Updated September 26, 2017

Have skills behind a bar? Then why not start a freelance bartending business? Starting a bartending business is an easy way to make extra money at night or on the weekends. Start-up costs are relatively small. Invest some time in developing a plan, marketing, and a few tools, and you can be earning extra spending money by the weekend.

Items you will need

  • Wine key
  • Martini shakers
  • Bar towels
  • Strainer
  • Muddler
  • Liquid measure
Step 1

Learn drink recipes and techniques. A good bartender can suggest and make interesting cocktails. Add flair to your bartending by learning tricks like juggling bottles and pour techniques.

Step 2

Buy some basic supplies. You will want bar equipment like a wine opener, martini shakers, strainers, and a muddler for mashing fruit. You may want to invest in a bar on wheels that you can bring with you to events.

Step 3

Buy a uniform. Opt for either all black, or a white shirt with a tie.

Step 4

Write a plan. Develop a list of services. Determine the prices you will charge and create a pricing sheet. Include things like your hourly rate, set-up costs, and traveling expenses.

Step 5

Market yourself by presenting your list of services and pricing sheet to event planners, hotels, wedding venues, and banquet halls. Print business cards. Visit event planning trade shows and distribute your flyers and business cards.

Step 6

Create a website. List your website in event planning directories in your area. Place an ad online or in your local paper under "Services for Private Parties."

Step 7

Keep detailed records and contracts. Upon agreeing on an event, write up the details in your contract and have your client sign and date it. Create invoices for payment, and collect all payments on time.

Step 8

Calculate your taxes. If you remain a one person operation, you can file as a sole proprietorship. As your business grows and adds other bartenders, you will need to file business taxes.

About the Author

Based in Southern California, Anne Marie Bailey has been a freelance writer since 2008. She has been published in "EAT Magazine" and is a regular contributor to Trails.com and eHow. Bailey holds a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology from the University of Colorado.