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The Craft

The ultimate resource for alcohol beverage news, trends and reports for bars, distributors and suppliers.


In the ever-changing food and beverage landscape, to market your business well it’s important to stay on your toes. A fun way to attract new clientele is to have a guest bartender night. Guest bartenders can provide new ideas and concepts for your bar beyond the scope of what you usually do. Whether your guest bartender is a local celebrity or simply a creative powerhouse, they’re sure to breathe some new life into even your slowest evenings. Let’s discuss some ways you can use a guest bartender to your restaurant’s advantage and maybe learn some guest bartending tips for maximizing success. 

Selecting the Right Guest Bartender

When choosing a guest bartender for your establishment, it’s important to bring in someone fresh while still remaining on-brand. This way you can satisfy your existing customer base and offer something new that they will find desirable. For example, if you own a classic cocktail bar, it may not be appropriate to invite a bartender from the local sports bar. However, a good guest bartender will be able to combine the needs of your establishment with their own personal experience. Keep all of this in mind when looking for the perfect guest bartender. 

One way to maximize the results of your guest bartending event is to invite a bartender with an established following. Choosing a bartender from a reputable restaurant or bar is a safe bet but also consider looking at social media channels as well. As we’ve discussed in other articles, social media can be a crucial marketing tool for your establishment.

bar inventory-1Supplying and Preparing Your Bar for a Guest Bartender Evening

One of the trickiest things about inviting a guest bartender is inventory management. To some extent you need to work with what you have on hand; however, a guest bartender may require some special ingredients. This is yet another instance where balance is key. Obviously you can’t order hundreds of dollars of product for a one-night bartending event, but since the whole point of inviting a guest bartender is to get a fresh perspective—and perhaps some fresh recipes—it’s worth looking into additional supplies.

We suggest scheduling a meeting with the guest bartender a few days prior to the event to get their thoughts on what they’d like to do while hosting. Make sure to set specific boundaries that still allow for their own creative vision.

During this meeting, it may also be a good idea to brainstorm some ideas for how to handle any leftovers. Also, consider the perishability of any ingredients you may be ordering. If an ingredient is going to spoil in a matter of days, carefully consider if it is worth the potential waste. 

The Economics of Guest Bartending Events

Inviting a guest bartender is a fun, exciting and potentially creative endeavor to breathe some life into your bar or restaurant. But it’s still important to remember you are running a business. As entertaining as a guest bartender might be, the night should be profitable.

One of the best things about these events is that you can essentially double your audience. If your guest bartender comes from a well-established restaurant, they can bring that customer base through your doors. While it may not be realistic to expect a doubling of your profits overnight, picking the right guest bartender can massively increase your exposure.

Although cost calculating drinks is never fun, it is important, so take some time to review your guest bartender’s menu before the event. Carefully go through each drink to ensure that they are producing (if not maximizing) per-drink profit. Creative expression is important, but if your bartender’s drinks aren’t making money, they simply aren’t viable. 

Training Your Guest Bartender

From a practical point of view, inviting a guest bartender is inherently difficult. It can take days, weeks, or months for regular bartenders to get trained and your guest bartender simply doesn’t have this kind of time. Even a single training night for a guest bartender is likely unrealistic. The best you can do is probably a few hours worth of training before the event begins. 

We suggest scheduling your top-performing bartending staff to support your guest bartender. Encourage them to have some patience and work in support of the guest. After all, the increased business that comes from a special event will also result in increased tips for staff. 

Advertising and Marketing the Event

Without proper marketing, putting on any type of event is almost pointless. You should begin spreading the word about your guest bartender at least a week in advance. This will give you ample time to announce the event via social media and in-person advertising.

Don’t be shy about your upcoming event! Shout it from the rooftops how excited you are to have this guest bartender and let it be known how exciting the night will be. Hopefully the guest bartender will do the same on their channels to really pump up the event. 

Consider printing flyers or small handouts to give to patrons in your bar. In the week prior to the event, it may be a good idea to include a small flyer with each guest’s bill. This is a great way to reach customers who are not necessarily engaged with your establishment’s social-media presence. 

crowded barIf You’re Going to Do It, Do It Well

A guest bartending event is a fantastic way to draw new customers to your establishment, as long as it’s planned and executed well. From the beginning stages of the idea all the way to the night itself, carefully consider what is right for your bar or restaurant. In doing so, you can create an event that will maximize both publicity and profit. 

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