Wednesday, 2 May 2018

5 Reasons to Hire a Professional Bartending Service!

You may be asking yourself "Why do I need to hire a professional bartender-Can't I have my friends cousins boyfriend and his best friend work the event?" Yes, you can. But there are some things to consider when selecting the individual(s) working your event and how they measure up to the professionals. 

1. Ready, much? A good professional bartending company should be able to assist you, not only with WHAT to serve to best suit your event and guests but also HOW MUCH. This will ensure you are adequately stocked for the event and also prevent you from over spending on your liquor, mix and garnishes. No one wants to be the host making the 9pm vodka run or serving lukewarm rye and gingers due to a depleted ice supply. Professional services eliminate these unfortunate circumstances.

2. Hi, Can I get two fingers of whiskey, neat and a cosmopolitan with a twist? A professional bartender will have the knowledge and experience to create a variety of drinks, providing the guests the opportunity to indulge in their favourite that they may seldom enjoy. 

3. The Suzy Homemaker of the Event. A professional bartender will come early to set up the bar, stock the supplies and ensure everything is in the place for the commencement of your event. The bar staff will also keep the bar area tidy the entire night and do a final cleanup of the area when the party concludes, this allows you to give your full attention to your guests. A professional bartender will take the wheel so you can enjoy the night, as you should!

4. Fluidity. It is common that guests tend to percolate at the bar area. Sometimes this can create quite a cluster of unorganized guests. Being organized and experienced while serving at a high volume is something that is essential to the success of the bar at any event. Professional bar staff work with efficiency to ensure any lineup is processed quickly, all while providing great customer service. 

5. What happens when Aunt Rita's had to much champagne? Any professional bartending company in Ontario must have Smart Serve Certified bartenders working their events, which assures you that they have the adequate education and training to serve your guests responsibly. Experienced bartenders can recognize if Uncle Timm has had a few too many rum and cokes and can respectfully and discreetly stop serving alcohol to him. This action prevents the host from having to de-escalate any unnecessary conflicts and eliminates any situation that can negatively reflect their event.

And there you have it! A few of the many reasons hiring a professional bartender will push your event above the rest, ensuring quality, quantity, availability, functionality, fluidity and safety and security. Next time you are hosting an event consider what we can do for you and visit us at

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Choosing YOUR Bar!

As if you don't have enough choices when it comes to planning a wedding in comes the (new) age old bar or open bar.

Working in the wedding and event industry has allotted me the opportunity to see a variety of bar options and opened my eyes to the realization that it doesn't have to be black or white, open vs cash. Clients are doing full cash, open, 'toonie bars', open for dinner-cash for reception, two free drink ticket then cash bar, free signature drink or 'limited open' bar-the options are endless and no one option is best for the masses. 

Open Bar- Guests are free to enjoy beverages without purchase. This option, although costly, is a welcome contender when taking into consideration the cost of attending a wedding or event. 

Pros; easy and cost effective for your guests, elimination for the need of a special occasion permit, allows brides/grooms/hosts to choose the quality and quantity of alcohol and gives your new step father the liquid courage needed to split jump and russian kick his way into an early night (This is a true story...Sorry Fred.) 

Cons; possibility of overindulgence by a small group of your guests-think 'passing out in a shrub' overindulgence and the expense of having an open bar can really tug at the purse strings.

Limited Bar-Free alcoholic beverages during cocktail hour/dinner or 'X' Free Drinks and the purchase of beverages during reception time. This is for the bride, groom, host that WANTS an open bar but for whatever reason is limited to the possibility of having it, wether it be cost, opportunity or otherwise.

Pros; Assists in diminishing cost, reigns in over indulgence closer to a time where guests will make their trek home (for the guests idiotic enough to even consider drinking and driving) and allows you to still cover some cost of the bar.

Cons; If not properly communicated to guests, it can cause confusion, it can unknowingly encourage over indulgence before the commencement of post dinner wedding events-when your guests will forget everything post cake cutting.

Toonie Bars-$2 drinks all night. The happy medium. This option has been increasingly growing in popularity. It's affordable for both guests and hosts!

Pros; Simple, cost effective, will most likely cover the cost of the bar supplies and alcohol, unless you have a really rowdy crowd like mine-shout out to the 4am'ers!

Cons; You will need an ample cash float.

Full Cash Bar-All alcoholic beverages are subject to a cash price. 

Pros; Easy on the budget, covers expenses.

Cons; , Have to obtain Special Occasion Permit to sell liquor, depending on the cost of alcoholic beverages, some guests may be inclined to be disgruntled. Like the wedding my husband and I attended... $7.50 bottles of Coors Light...YIKES. (You can imagine how negated the bar was at that wedding.)

When it all boils down, the type of bar you have at your wedding is up to you. Each option has it's pros and it's cons and really as long as you end up MR & MRS by the end of the night, everything is as it should be. 

Happy Planning!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Don't Serve Warm Drinks...and other Bar Preventables.

A couple of years ago at a friends wedding, I arrived to find myself in a massive line up for drinks. I don't mean the typical few minute wait, giving you enough time to get your tickets/money out, chat with the couple ahead of you in some nonchalant attempt to pass the time or change your mind, at least once, about which poison you were going to pick...I mean, the line did not move for at least 15 minutes. I wondered if they had run out of liquor (oh the horror!) or if they were having issues turning away an over intoxicated patron, but when I finally got to the front of the line I saw the issue, clear as day. At an event with well over 200 people there were 2 bartenders. Whom I recognized as friends of the groom. Whom I also never knew to be bartenders by trade. 

They were clearly in over their heads, overwhelmed and unorganized. Empty cups were strewn about the bar top, money was falling off the edges, people were huffing and puffing and I'm pretty sure one of the bartenders was about to cry/in the midst of a mental breakdown/about to pull the fire alarm in an attempt to thwart any plans of the bar getting any busier. Just then two members of the wedding party, who were obviously intoxicated, came to help behind the bar. This posed all new risks to the event that I'm sure they weren't even aware of. Legal risks. The line began moving again, I ordered my rye and ginger, received it and took and sip. Warm. El Nino warm. If you've ever had a warm rye and ginger when you were expecting a cold one your probably as horrified reading this as I was sipping it. The bartender, noticing, my less than subtle reaction, advised me they had run out of ice and "someone" was going to go get some "when they had a chance." Knowing this was not her fault, I thanked her, the empathetic server in me tipped her, I took my drink and reminded myself to order a beer next time. 

This was the bar situation ALL NIGHT. The wedding was beautiful, the music was great, don't even get me started on the heartfelt speeches (I'm a crier, I'll admit it) but it was brought up on more than one occasion how horrible the bar situation was. A year later at a mutual friends Jack and Jill, the bride confided in me that her now husband had said his friends offered to get their smart serves and work the event for free, just collecting tips and she thought nothing of it at the time but to that day, harboured regret and even embarrassment about the decision. 

The bar aspect often gets overlooked but in truth, it's a pinnacle of your event. It's where people culminate to chat, catch up, where you provide your guests with drinks to celebrate your big day, where your Uncle Jerry gets the liquid courage to do Russian kicks on the dance floor, even when he has no business doing Russian kicks in the first place.

Here are a few mistakes to avoid in regards to the bar aspect of your event.

Paying Less and Expecting More. There is a saying that ‘you get what you pay for’. It's a coined term for a reason..because a lot of the time, it's true. The same applies to hiring bar staff.  Sure, it's great to throw your sisters-best friends-brother a bone and hiring him at 50% of the cost of a professional company but consider the work you are getting. Is he experienced? Is he certified? Does he have insurance? Will he care about the 'review' you give him on his non existent website? Will he feel the need to work within the AGCO and Smart Serve guidelines? Does he have a float? Bar utensils? Backup liquor? Is this his passion or his 'bread and butter?' Quality bar staff may cost more but they are the better option if you are to end up with a successful event. 

Taking too much time in deciding. Event planning takes a lot of time, energy, organization and everyone has areas they put more and less into. Don't let the bar aspect be the latter. I say this for a variety of reasons, one being my own experience with being a hired professional bartender. I often have brides contact me only mere months from their wedding, saying either their "bartenders" fell through, they forgot to hire a bartender or thought their venue or caterer supplied them, only to find out I am completely booked for that weekend. I feel bad turning people away knowing the importance and necessity of needing a licensed, experienced bartender. There are only so many 3rd party bartending companies and so many weekends for weddings and events. Make the bar a priority, your guests, wallet and sanity will thank you for it. 

Leaving out the details. No drink menu? It happens more often than you think. Your guests should be aware of not only what you are serving, but what you aren't and the costs associated. Most importantly...I cannot believe the amount of times I have been to events with a heavy bar presence where there is no information on safe rides home. This, as a licensed bartender, makes me cringe. There is not only legal responsibilities but those of your conscious as well. Leave cab company cards or a notice with info for safe rides home on your bar, this is especially important for your out of town guests who do not know the area or the cab companies. 

Doing it ALL yourself. DIY is great. I'm a sucker for Pinterest'ing well...everything. But some things are just out of reach and that's okay. Especially when your planning an event. Handle what you want or what you can and let the professionals do the rest. One thing I was adamant about when starting Alewife was that I was going to make customer service and client relief a top priority. I don't charge my clients for the 'extra's'-if they need advice on how much ice to buy for an event of 150 people, I gladly supply it, instead of allowing them to spend hours on Google trying to siphon the good advice from the bad and still ending up serving warm drinks.  Don't be afraid to reach out to your event vendors and ask for a little help, advice, etc. It's what you hire them for after all!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Having Fun with Signature Drinks

With websites like Pinterest becoming the holy grail of event planning, it's no surprise to see a sudden increase in requests from clients for something "a little different." Sometimes they want to go big with their ideas, sometimes small-but always something unique, fun and significant.

Enter Signature Drinks.

Recently I have fallen in love with the creation and decoration of signature drinks. Whether it be for the guest of honour at her 50th birthday party, a bride and groom's own favourite drinks or the drink that best reflects the cause of the fundraiser, signature drinks are the new "oh la la" of any bar aspect. It allows people to incorporate their own little touch into the bar to make it stand out, with possibilities and tastes that are endless. 

Here are some tip, tricks and general info about making signature drinks a part of your event:

Ingredient List. This is important for a variety of reasons; from allergies to "Oh my Gosh, I CANNOT drink tequila," to "I want to make that at home"-ensure your providing your guests with the ability to bow out of or take on the signature drink you have selected to serve at your event.

Decoration. My absolute, hands down, favourite part of handling signature drinks for my clients is decoration. Whether your matching it to your existing decor, reflecting the actual drink or something in between, everyone loves a decorated drink. Berry garnishes, straw flags, hot pink sugar rim, drink labels, mint infused ice cubes- the possibilities are truly endless.

Do You. Not everyone is going to like your favourite drink. I go gaga for an ice cold gin and limeade. I probably couldn't pay half of my friends to even consider ingesting it but if it were my event, THAT would be my signature drink. Why? Because it's my favourite. When it comes to things unique to you, be true to yourself and your tastes. 

Do You Part 2. Don't be afraid to incorporate things like your background into your signature drinks. Use your grandmas favourite sangria recipe or a beverage representative of your nationality. People love to experience new things so don't be afraid to give them the opportunity to.

Presentation. Another aspect important to the art of signature drinks if how you present said drinks. Champagne service, vintage inspired lemonade stand with all the fix ins or sample whisky tasting displayed on hand crafted bark tree tiers, once again, options are endless. 

Have FUN! Silly drink names, fun signs, tongue in check slogans. Signature drinks are the tasty appetizer to the sometimes mundane regular bar offerings, its something to get people talking, laughing, enjoying. So, have fun with it!

Contact Alewife about having signature drinks at your event, we can't wait to hear what you have come up with and how we can help knock it out of the park!

Monday, 15 August 2016

F.A.Q's ...The Alewife Edition

Since going full steam ahead with Alewife, I've gotten such an incredible response from not only friends and family but from the demographic I hope to reach. (Already getting inquiries for 2018 Weddings!)
But along with any new endeavour, questions do arise on the service(s) you are providing and the details surrounding them. Below I will highlight the questions I have received and how I answer them.

What do you actually do?
Alewife Event Bartending provides professional bar services. We supply certified and experienced bartenders, we rent out mobile bars and decor, we do 'full service' orders; providing bars, bartenders, supplies, mix, license and liquor procurement and every detail in-between. We take the metaphorical wheel and handle the entire bar aspect off the hands of the host/planner/etc. 

What are your "specialty services?"
Specialty services are what we offer that wedding planners have told me "no one else does."
If you want to do a vintage inspired lemonade stand pre-ceremony for your wedding guests or a craft beer sampling station for your Jack and Jill-we can do it! It allows you to be creative and have fun-without the work. 

What if I just need bartenders?
Sounds great! We have an inventory of certified, experienced, eager and energetic bartenders to tend to the bar at your event. They handle set up, clean up, provide a float and bar utensils. 

Can't I just hire bartenders from my catering company?
Of course you can! Just be mindful of the difference in WHAT is being supplied for how MUCH, quality and cost. Some caterers will lead you to believe you HAVE to hire them for the bar aspect. and they tend to charge on the higher side for those bartending services, a lot of the times adding a mandatory 18% gratuity-without any added benefits. At Alewife we like to provide MORE for LESS. Fair rates, great service and a main focus-making the bar a hit.

When in my planning process should I contact Alewife about my event?
To ensure we are available for your date...the sooner the better! As an example of how our clients book us; we still have dates available in 2017 but we have already started booking for the 2018 season, with Spring to Fall being our busiest time of year. Reaching out to us early, not only secures our services for the date of your event, but also allows you the ability to cross that off your 'to do' list and focus on other aspects of your event. 

Do you just service weddings?
A great deal of our business comes from wedding and wedding related events but we revel in the ability to work events of all different natures. Birthday parties, retirements, corporate functions, fundraisers, holiday parties-if there is a bar at your event, we would love to service it. 

Where can I get more information about Alewife Event Bartending?
To learn about us and our services, you can visit us at a number of different online outlets; Facebook: Alewife Event Bartending, our Website:, send us an email at OR you can come visit our booth at the Quinte Bridal Show on Sunday, October 16th. 

Why did you start this business? 
Passion. Enjoyment. Fulfillment. Alewife came to be out of a passion to work with people, an enjoyment in providing the services we do and the fulfillment in the knowledge that you helped clients in their pursuit for a flawless event and bringing to life their ideas. 

Monday, 8 August 2016

To Wine or Not To Wine.

A bride told me last week that the corking fee at a venue she looked at was $22 PER bottle.  I almost fell off my chair, almost flung my overpriced Starbucks iced coffee right in the air, almost laughed at the sheer insanity of the idea that a venue would or COULD charge that. At that moment, more than ever, I understood her choice to have a backyard wedding. She then said she really didn't care all that much for serving table wine at her wedding but would rather do something fun and inspired. We discussed her options for table beverages, which led me to writing this blog. What used to be expectancies of a wedding or event are now merely options in the vast variety OF options available.  Your event is YOURS. Make the most of the opportunity to be creative and have fun with the idea of beverages on your table. No one ever said the road most travelled was always the 'right one.'

*(Of course, keep in mind the rules and requirements of the venue or location you are holding your event at to ensure you are allotted this decision in the first place.)

Imagine a beautiful fall event, decorations plentiful with the humbly vibrant colours of the season, the falling leaves, the crisp air and CIDER. This isn't just #1 on the list because its my personal favourite, okay maybe it is, but also because of what you could do with this idea. Pear, Apple, Cinnamon. The options continue; individual serve in mason jars, antique glass swing tops, hollowed out apples. It's something unique, affordable (wine stores often sell kits!) and most of all, delicious.

Now, hear me out on this one. With the increasing popularity of craft beer, the way in which it is bottled, sold and presented has changed dramatically, becoming quite aesthetically pleasing.  If you want to highlight your favourite kind of beer or you just plain and simple, have a 'beer drinking crowd'-this option may be for you. You can highlight your table decor with a vintage looking growler full of the finest local brew or have custom engraved swing tops or growlers with table numbers. It's off the cuff, but a great alternative. 

An event is a celebration, is it not? Why not indulge a bit and opt for some bubbly? Some would say this option is too much like wine but I like to refer to it more as wine's fun cousin. If your someone always looking for something a little different but don't want to wander into completely unconventional territory than this option may be for you. It's sophisticated, unique and who doesn't love a little Bambino every now and then. Yes, I said Bambino. (it doesn't have to be expensive to be good!)

Have an idea for your very own "off the cuff" table beverage? Let Alewife help with the planning! Website in "About Us"-check it out! 


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Making your bar YOU'nique.

See what I did there? Corny joke 101. But this blog really IS about making your bar unique and special to you. Hosts, most especially brides and grooms, often forget that the event they are hosting is supposed to be a reflection of them and their likes and dislikes, or those of the guest of honour. When considering your only going to get one kick at the can to impress the guests with your own creative touch to the bar-the real question is-why NOT do something fun and different? Here are some ideas gaining a lot of momentum on sites like Pinterest and some of my personal favourites...guilty.

Craft Beer Sample Bar
Your hubby to be loves craft beer? Why not have a craft beer sample taste bar? It adds a touch of his interests (which trust me, once your married will be yours too...regardless if you like it or not!) and also adds a little extra flair to your wedding bar. Have the MR. pick out 8 of his favourite craft beers and serve 2-3 ounces in each glass with the information of each brand listed. This gives him the ability to show off his tastes, literally and figuratively and gives guests the ability to try something they may not have normally tried. 

Mojito Bar
Have you ever been to a summer wedding where the heat was unbearable, like dancing on the equator unbearable? Where you felt it in your BONES. And where all you want is the most refreshing drink humanly possible and available (save water, because lets be honest.) Enter Mojito Bar. Nothing is more refreshing, or aesthetically pleasing as a mojito. You have endless options to display and serve and your guests will be nothing but giddy with the idea to be there own bartender and concoct their very own signature drink.

Lemonade Stand
This cute, vintage bar idea is great for hydrating your guests while they wait to enter the reception or for your ceremony to start. Not all weddings jump right into serving alcohol and some events are dry so this works great as a non alcoholic option as well. Pink Lemonade, Limeade or Classic lemonade-the gang is all here, or it can be! (Plus-how endearing and vintage are the displays? LOVE.)

Whisky (Or Whiskey, for my fellow Irish folk) Bar
I had to put this on the list. Partly because my wedding ran out of whisky promptly at 11pm so I see its true value, but also because it is the definition of class and sophistication. Think 'Mad Men.' Choose a few whisky's that boast different origins, flavours and ages. There is so much room to have fun with this idea. Adorn your table with Ron Burgandy approved decor, add some post meal cigars and let the swirling begin. 

Coffee Bar
It's 10pm, you've been at it all day...or so it seems and then the DJ starts playing the wedding classics...(I'm a sucker for Mambo #5) and you need that little kick in the rear to get your dancing shoes in gear. Welcome to the coffee bar. But this is no typical coffee in an urn with styrofoam cups and the usual suspects; milk, cream, sugar. Introduce whipped cream, cinnamon, mocha syrups, vanilla creamer...the possibilities are endless. You can even have custom disposable cups made for a very affordable price designed with your names or even a slogan..."love is brewing." Yup, the play on words gets me every time. 

I could go on forever about the large variety of specialty bar options, these were just 5 of the ones I was all too excited to plan. This is what Alewife specializes in, making your event SPECIAL. Even if you have an off the cuff idea, we can make it happen-we revel in our ability to not just try new things but go over the fence, into the stars with them. Below are more fun ideas for bar options. Contact Alewife if anything jumps out at you as a 'must have' for your big day!

Sangria Bar

Mimosa Bar

Hot Chocolate Bar

Bride and Groom Signature Drinks

Individual Welcome Drinks

Champagne Service

Tea Bar