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  • Ryan North

"What's a Bar Minimum" and other "Paying for the Bar" questions...

Updated: Jul 18

The North Garden Theater features a full bar with beers on tap, wines, cocktails, soft drinks and more. We like to refer to our bar as small but mighty! We don't have EVERY liquor you could imagine, but enough to make most popular cocktails.


Our collection and mix of spirits, beers, wines, and soft drinks changes and develops over time. Please inquire via email for our current selections.


The bar at your event or wedding can be an important part of the celebratory experience! When it comes to wedding receptions, many wedding parties will set aside at least 20% of their total budget to make sure guests and the wedding party are covered at the bar! We get a lot of questions about some of the terms around paying for drinks at our bar. This article will talk about bar minimums, hosted bars, cash bars, drink tickets, tabs, and tipping. Read on to learn more.

BAR MINIMUMS: Our wedding events have bar minimums. This is a pre-determined amount that is dependent on the day of the week. These minimums can be found on our Weddings and Receptions page. This is a dollar amount target that your event is asked to spend at the bar by the end of your big day. This is not a PRE-payment. For example: if your bar minimum is $1400 and by the end of the night your party has only spent $1000, you'd have to settle up for $400 (cash or credit) when the event is over before you leave. We have found that our bar minimums are generally thought of as easy to achieve. We have had very few events that don't make their minimum. There are no bar minimums for regular parties that aren't weddings.


TIPS ON TABS: We ask for a minimum 15% tip on any tab that is opened at our bar. This includes wedding party tabs and any other guest tab. You are welcome to tip more if you would like.


OPEN OR HOSTED BAR: The term "open bar" or “hosted bar” means the same thing... that someone (usually) from the wedding party is picking up the tab for all or some of the drinks. You are essentially “hosting” your guests with bar service. The bar can be hosted fully or partially. Partially hosting a bar can be done many ways:

  • HOSTED BY DRINK TYPE: Perhaps only beer, wine, and soft drinks will be hosted or maybe just soft drinks or maybe just a signature cocktail. You can decide what to include or not include. Drinks not included can be paid by cash or card.

  • HOSTED BY TIME: You pick the start time and end time that the hosting will occur.

  • HOSTED BY DOLLAR AMOUNT: You pick your budget for the hosting period. When those funds run out, the bar changes to a cash bar where guests pay for their drinks.

  • HOSTED BY SUB-GROUP: This means that drinks are hosted for a particular grouping of guests. Perhaps just the immediate family for example. It's great to share a password or a physical token that will help the bar tenders identify who is in this special group.

CASH BAR or NO-HOST BAR: A cash bar or no-host bar means you and your guests will be charged each time a drink is purchased. You can pay per drink or open a tab. A cash bar is exactly what you get if you're at any public bar. Despite it's name, you can still pay for your drink or tab with a credit card or smart phone / watch payment.


LAST CALL: When last call is announced, it is your last opportunity to approach the bar and get a drink. Last call is usually announced a half hour before the end of the event (not including clean up time). Sometimes last call is NOT announced and the bar just closes for safety reasons. This is left up to the bartender's discretion.


DRINK TICKETS: As an alternative, you can distribute drink tickets to your guests. You are responsible for providing the physical tickets. This is a common option for holiday parties where the organizing company may provide two drinks per guest. We keep track of the ticket tab and you pay the tab + a minimum 15% service fee at the end of the night.


CORKAGE FEE: Since you are not allowed to bring in your own booze, beer, or wine, a corkage fee is not a thing at the North Garden Theater.


CUSTOMIZATION AND SIGNATURE COCKTAILS: Yes and yes. The North Garden Theater has the capability to customize or add to our collection of spirits, wine, beer, and soft drinks. There is a fee to customize the bar based on what you bring in. We often help our parties come up with a signature cocktail that is especially tailored to the event. We just ask that it is not overly complicated as we strive to be a speedy bar!


We hope you know more now than you did a few minutes ago! CHEERS!




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