Bar Formats

Bar Hire Formats


Traditionally, mobile bars can operate in many different formats to meet the event's requirements and budget. You might have already come across terms such as 'cash-bar' or 'dry-bar', and if you've ever wondered what do these mean or unsure which one you should go for, read on...

In the following quick guide to the various bar hire formats we have collected the most common options you can choose from, explaining how do they work, what are their benefits and what should you be aware before making your decision.

Dry Bar

How does it work: Dry Bars are the simplest and easiest way to hire a mobile bar for your event. For a set fee, we provide the bar, glassware, professional bartenders and all the other bits and pieces to add flair to your party, and you look after the wet stock that we serve to your guests. We also help creating your drinks selection and supply you with a shopping list to help you find the right quantities.

Benefits of hiring a dry bar: Beyond the fact that dry bars are very cost effective, you can also keep the amount of alcohol (and the 'wildness' of the party) under control. These bars are great for celebrations that take place in the comfort of your own home, providing a perfect solution if you want to amaze your guests with something special but stay within a realistic budget.

Be mindful of: Most people choose dry-bar hire in order to keep costs low and decide to look after the stock themselves, but this inevitably might result that some drinks run out in the middle of the party and from others there are huge leftovers once the guests are left. Feel free to ask us for expert advice to help avoid this situation.


Cash Bar

How does it work: Cash Bars are one of the most popular formats when it comes to hiring a bar. As it's name suggests, this mobile bar operates just like its 'brick-and-mortar' counterparts, being fully stocked, manned and licensed, and your guests can purchase their drinks individually, choosing from a drinks menu exclusively designed for your event.

Benefits of hiring a cash bar: Since the bar hire costs are covered through the sales generated, hiring a cash bar is a very budget friendly option. You can put this bar in place for simply paying a low security deposit to hold your date, or even get it for FREE if your event meets certain criteria (such as it's size and duration). Also, you don't have to worry about running out drinks since the bar comes with adequate stock levels.


Be mindful of: On certain types of events (such as weddings and business get-together) some of your guests might find a cash bar to be inappropriate, so it might be a good idea to consider how your audience would perceive this type of drinks service, and maybe combine it with a 'Tab Bar' if you feel concerned.

Free Bar

How does it work: Also known as an 'open-bar' or 'all-inclusive bar', in this type of bar hiring format  your guests can 'roam freely' when approaching the bar. In these packages everything is included from the above options, and it comes fully stocked with the pre-agreed drinks and cocktails so all of your guests can find their favourite. In terms of costs, we can either provide a price-per-person (unlimited drinks), or you can choose to run the bar with a drinks menu and you settle the bill when the party is over.

Benefits of hiring a free bar: Treating your guests with unlimited free drinks can get the party rolling and it will make sure that your event will be long remembered.


Be mindful of: Not surprisingly, costs of providing a Free Bar for your guests tend to be generally higher than other formats, and it's more likely that people consume more since they are less concerned about how much they spend. Bear in mind that free booze can get things a little bit out of control and drive the party into late night (unless this is what you are after, of course).


Tab Bar

How does it work: Also called a 'Combination Bar', this bar format combines the benefits of the Cash Bar and a Free Bar. The concept is that a set amount of drinks are paid by you to treat your guests, but once these gone the bar reverts into a Cash Bar for the rest of the event. The bar hire fees are generally lower than those at the dry bar hire, and you have full control over how much would you like to spend at the bar. There are various ways how your guests are treated with the free drinks, such as:

Opening a 'tab': You can choose to put money behind the bar and as long as it lasts your guests do not pay for their drinks. It's great to control costs but might not leave every guest evenly happy...


Running a 'Token Bar' : You might rather go for a so-called 'Token Bar' where you pay for a set amount of drinks (for example, two cocktails per person), and give tickets/vouchers to the attendees to hand them over at the bar. This is great to ensure everyone enjoys a drink or two on you and still keeps your costs under control.

Offering a 'Happy Hour': Alternatively, you can decide to give free drinks for a set duration at the beginning of the event (Happy Hour) and you settle that bill, then the bar goes on as a Cash Bar. Be aware that in this option costs are fairly unpredictable and since there are set times for the free drinks, those who arrive late might miss out.


We hope this quick guide helped to choose the right bar format for your upcoming event, but if you are still unsure or have further questions, feel free to get in touch for a friendly chat to discuss which one of these would suit your event the best.

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