Mobile bartending is increasing in popularity. Learn more about mobile bartending and what to consider when looking into this type of business.
Mobile bartending has seen an upswing in popularity in the last couple of years. This is likely due to a few factors, including a response to ongoing restaurant and bar closures due to the pandemic, a general rise in entrepreneurship and the increase in mobile businesses (consider the ever-growing popularity of food trucks).
If you’re aiming to start your own alcohol service business, mobile bartending is one area worth considering. For more information on becoming a bartender, don't forget to check out our handy bartender guide.
What is mobile bartending?
Mobile bartending refers to bartenders who travel to different locations and events, according to where the customer needs them. Services can range in offering. Some mobile bartending companies strictly provide staff and materials for alcohol service, including glassware, mixing tools, etc., but don’t provide the alcohol. Other mobile bartending services are full-range, offering the staff and provisions for service and sale of alcohol.
Considerations of a Mobile Bartending Service
When exploring the possibility of starting a mobile bartending service, there are a few factors to keep in mind.
Securing Supplies (Including a Vehicle)
To customers, one of the main benefits of a mobile bartending service is the availability of all the supplies needed to serve alcohol, including:
- Bars and tables
- Mixing tools such as strainers, shakers, muddlers
- Napkins and table covers
Additionally, depending on the nature of your mobile bartending service, you’ll need a vehicle – either to easily transport equipment and staff, or to center your service around, as with a food truck or pop-up/mobile kitchen.
Obtaining Permits, Licenses and Certifications
When starting any business that involves alcohol service, you must ensure you have the proper permits, licenses and certifications. You might be wondering: does a mobile bartending service need a liquor license? Requirements may vary, depending on the state or county you’re operating in; the nature of your business, e.g. if you’re serving or selling alcohol or operating out of a mobile kitchen; or the type of event venue.
For example, in the state of California, all alcohol servers and managers of servers working in licensed establishments in the state must obtain RBS (Responsible Beverage Service) training and certification. This law resulted from the passing of California Assembly Bill 1221, and came into effect on July 1, 2022. Failure to comply can result in fines, suspension of liquor license and more.
When researching what’s needed to open a mobile bartending business, contact your local county and state authorities to determine the requirements.
Building Repeat Business in Mobile Bartending
It may seem like this more transient approach to bartending wouldn’t be as lucrative as working in a traditional restaurant or bar, but that’s not the case. Mobile bartending can be just as lucrative by building up a roster of clients that a) offer referrals to keep a steady influx of business and/or b) host repeat events.
If you’re considering starting a mobile bartending business, you’ll want to determine the type of clientele you’d like to target, and their potential for repeat business. This could include organizations that have regular events, individuals willing to provide referrals and promotion through word-of-mouth or partnering with a local bridal shop or similar business to become a preferred vendor for its customers, to name a few.
Mobile bartending is a fun, exciting option if you’re looking for variety in events and clients, to step outside of traditional brick and mortar, or to start your own business. No matter the reason for your interest, make sure you’re doing due diligence around what’s needed, especially in the area of training and certification. For more information on Userve’s alcohol service training, find your state on our course page.