What is a No-Host Bar?

Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal
Guests pay for their own alcoholic drinks at a social function at a no-host bar.
Guests pay for their own alcoholic drinks at a social function at a no-host bar.

A no-host bar, also called a cash bar, is an area at a social function where guests pay for their own alcoholic drinks. Many social events provide guests with dinner and possibly even soft drinks for free, but if they want alcohol, they must pay for it themselves. The opposite is a hosted bar, where the host pays for all drinks consumed by guests.

In the past, many weddings provided a host bar where drinks were complimentary, but with the spiraling costs of these events, no-host bars have become more popular. In some circles, expecting guests to pay for their own drinks is still frowned upon, but a hosted bar can be very expensive and may encourage guests to drink too much. At many weddings, the meals for each guest are paid for and a glass of wine may be provided while the food is being served. After the meal is complete, guests can purchase additional drinks at the bar.

Guests may abuse free alcohol privileges and act irresponsibly, which has led many people to choose a no-host bar when hosting a social function.
Guests may abuse free alcohol privileges and act irresponsibly, which has led many people to choose a no-host bar when hosting a social function.

Another popular option at weddings and other events is to give guests tickets with which they can receive one or two complimentary drinks. After these tickets have been redeemed, additional beverages can be purchased. The drinks may be sold at a reduced cost as part of a package deal for the venue. Many hotels, for example, dispense with a bar charge to the wedding party if guests spend over a set amount of money on alcohol.

Also called a cash bar, a no-host bar requires patrons to pay for alcohol and take legal responsibility for actions caused by drinking.
Also called a cash bar, a no-host bar requires patrons to pay for alcohol and take legal responsibility for actions caused by drinking.

Many companies hold Christmas parties for their staff with a host bar as a way of saying thank you for their hard work. Sometimes, however, the company's goodwill can be abused. When drinks are free, some guests may frequent the bar as often as they possibly can. This can result in foolish or dangerous behavior on the part of those who have consumed too much alcohol. Since the drinks were provided by the company, it could be held legally responsible if an intoxicated employee gets behind the wheel.

Many companies hold Christmas parties for their staff with a host bar as a way of saying thank you for their hard work.
Many companies hold Christmas parties for their staff with a host bar as a way of saying thank you for their hard work.

It is exactly for this reason that many companies now use the no-host bar as an option. When the company doesn't have to pay for alcohol, it may spend that money on holiday gifts or bonuses for employees instead. Many companies simply dispense with a bar altogether and do not supply alcohol at company functions.

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Discussion Comments

anon972019

It depends on what kind of function is being thrown. If its just a ball or some kind of informal party, the a no-host bar is absolutely appropriate. But if it's a wedding, its pretty trashy to *not* have a hosted bar.

Guests are expected to dress, bring gifts, travel in some cases, completely forfeit their weekend to you, and in the case of bridesmaids, purchase expensive, ugly gowns. No, if you're going to invite people to your wedding, feed them *and* provide alcohol because of all they're doing for you. Otherwise, you're a cheap host.

anon106645

i don't think you would be legally responsible unless that patron is obviously intoxicated (ie. can't stand, slurred speech, vomiting), but the bartender should be a good judge of this as well. As for someone bringing their own booze to a wedding, that's pretty trashy and hopefully you'll know who these people are already. Good luck!

anon79446

i agree sputnik. Maybe i can get an answer to my question. I'm planning a wedding reception and would like to have a no-host bar. Will I still be legally responsible if one of my guests gets intoxicated, and causes an accident while driving home? What about those who bring their own liquor and use the no-host bar too?

sputnik

It just seems prudent for people to pay for their own drink. Consumption of alcohol is not a must, say like food is. So if sombody wants to induldge, let them pay for it.

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    • Guests pay for their own alcoholic drinks at a social function at a no-host bar.
      Guests pay for their own alcoholic drinks at a social function at a no-host bar.
    • Guests may abuse free alcohol privileges and act irresponsibly, which has led many people to choose a no-host bar when hosting a social function.
      Guests may abuse free alcohol privileges and act irresponsibly, which has led many people to choose a no-host bar when hosting a social function.
    • Also called a cash bar, a no-host bar requires patrons to pay for alcohol and take legal responsibility for actions caused by drinking.
      Also called a cash bar, a no-host bar requires patrons to pay for alcohol and take legal responsibility for actions caused by drinking.
    • Many companies hold Christmas parties for their staff with a host bar as a way of saying thank you for their hard work.
      Many companies hold Christmas parties for their staff with a host bar as a way of saying thank you for their hard work.
    • No host bars may be offered alongside food samples at an event.
      No host bars may be offered alongside food samples at an event.