Have you ever thought about starting your own mobile alcohol truck business? Perhaps you’ve seen one at a party or event and thought, “That looks like a really fun job!” Well, it can be – but there’s a lot more to it than just serving drinks. If you’re thinking of starting your own mobile bar business, there are a few things you need to consider. This article will answer some of the most common questions people have about starting a mobile alcohol truck business.

What is a Mobile Bar?

A mobile bar is a business that provides alcoholic beverages to events and parties. They are typically set up in a van or truck and come equipped with everything needed to serve drinks, including a bar, refrigeration, glassware, and mixers. Basically, mobile bar trucks are the ice cream trucks for adults. The owner of the mobile bar business is responsible for obtaining the alcohol and ensuring that it is served responsibly.

Mobile alcohol truck is only one type of mobile bar, but it is one of the most popular ones, and it is what people usually imagine when you say ‘mobile bar’. However, mobile bars can also be in form of carts, concession stands, or any kind of portable station with the function of serving drinks.

Types of Mobile Alcohol Businesses

There are two main types of mobile alcohol businesses: private and public. Private mobile bars are typically hired by individuals or organizations to provide drinks for their events. These businesses are not open to the general public and do not serve alcohol at public events. Public mobile bars, on the other hand, are open to anyone who wants to purchase their drinks. They typically set up at public events, such as festivals or concerts.

Besides these two there are as many kinds of mobile bars as ideas people can come up with. With different types of vehicles used, types of drinks serves, and general concepts, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Where can you set up a mobile bar?

The great thing about mobile bars is that they can be set up just about anywhere! Some common locations include:

  • Private parties and events
  • Weddings
  • Festivals
  • Concerts
  • Sporting events
  • Beaches
  • City parks
  • Company picnics

What do you need to start a mobile alcohol truck?

A vehicle – obviously

You’ll need a truck, van, or trailer that is big enough to fit all of your supplies, including kegs, coolers, and glassware. What type of vehicle you choose will depend on a few factors, including how much money you have to spend and what type of events you’ll be catering.

Some of the interesting options might be a vintage VW bus, a converted food truck, or an airstream trailer. Of course, you can always go the more traditional route and just get a regular ol’ van or truck. The important thing is that it’s big enough to hold everything you need and that it’s comfortable for you to drive (since you’ll be spending a lot of time behind the wheel!).

Liquor license

In order to legally serve alcohol, you’ll need to get a license from your state or local government. A major roadblock to obtaining a liquor license for your mobile bar is that you usually need a location to serve alcohol. This can be a physical location, such as a restaurant, bar, or club, or it can be a special event permit. However, there are some ways around this requirement. One option is to partner with a local business that does have a liquor license and serve alcohol from their premises. Another option is to apply for a special event permit, which would allow you to serve alcohol at specific events such as festivals or weddings. Generally, liquor laws apply to the sale of alcohol, not the serving of it, so as long as you don’t exchange money for drinks, you might not need a liquor license.

Ultimately, the best advice I can give you is to recognize liquor laws and health department regulations differ from city to city, state to state. Seek out expert advice in your local area to ensure you’re following the laws and regulations of your area. Go to them with a solid understanding of what you’re asking, and what it is they need to provide you. Mobile bars often live in a gray area and it’s easy for people in the government to struggle to understand the concept and how it’ll fit into their current set of laws and regulations. Understand it going in that you may be the first person asking them these questions, so be patient and be persistent.

vw van mobile bar

Branding and marketing

Creating a brand for your mobile bar is important because it will help you stand out in a crowded market. A great way to start branding your business is by coming up with a catchy name and creating a logo. You can then use these elements on your website, social media, and marketing materials. Make sure to choose colors and fonts that are consistent with the overall look and feel of your brand.

Another important aspect of branding is making sure that your mobile bar is easily recognizable. This can be achieved by customizing the exterior of your vehicle with your logo and brand colors. You can also add some fun elements, such as string lights or a neon sign. Social media is a powerful tool for promoting businesses, so make sure to post regularly and use relevant hashtags.

A well-designed website is also key for promoting your mobile bar business. Your website should include your contact information, a portfolio of your work, and information about your services. You can also use your website to blog about industry news, tips for hosting successful events, and other topics that will be of interest to your target audience.

In addition to online marketing, it’s also important to get out there and network in person. Attend industry events, trade shows, and wedding fairs to introduce yourself and your business to potential clients. You can also offer your services as a vendor at local festivals and other events.

Drink list

You’ll need to come up with a list of drinks that you want to serve. This will depend on your personal preferences and the type of events you’ll be catering. If you’re not sure what to include, start by thinking about the most popular alcoholic beverages and then come up with some creative twists. For example, instead of just serving beer, you could offer a variety of craft beers. Or, instead of just serving wine, you could create a signature wine cocktail. Get creative and have fun with it!

Equipment you need for an alcohol truck or trailer

Just like any business, you need the right equipment to get started. This includes everything from glassware to coolers to kegs. Here’s a list of some of the essential pieces of equipment you’ll need:

glassware for mobile bar


You’ll need to purchase or rent glassware for your mobile bar. This includes glasses for wine, beer, and cocktails. Just make sure that you have enough glasses for all of your guests and that they’re the right type of glass for the drink you’re serving.

Coolers and refrigerators

You’ll need coolers or refrigerators to keep your drinks cold. This is especially important if you’re serving beer, as it needs to be kept at a certain temperature to taste its best. You can either purchase coolers or rent them from a party rental company.

Handwashing station

Having a place to wash your hands is a must, but whether you have to have a full washing station or not depends on the situation you’ll be serving drinks in. There is generally very little government regulation over private events, so even if there are regulations that apply to private events, they are likely not often enforced, but if you’re looking to get into festivals or sell things like coffee or other non-alcoholic beverages in public spaces, it’s in your best interest to get your health department on the phone to see what the requirements are and what you need to do to comply.

Details of compliance are likely going to vary from city to city, but a few things they will likely require are:

Ice Machine

You’ll need ice to keep your drinks cold. A good rule of thumb is to have one pound of ice for each person you’re expecting. So, if you’re catering a party for 100 people, you’ll need 100 pounds of ice. You could incorporate an ice machine in your mobile bar, which will ensure you always have fresh ice. Nugget ice is the best for keeping the drinks cold without watering them down, so check out our selection of nugget ice makers. Alternatively, you can usually purchase ice from your local grocery store or gas station.

Bar tools

You’ll need some basic bar tools to make cocktails, such as a shaker, strainer, and jigger. You can purchase these items from a variety of sources, including online retailers, kitchen stores, and even some bars or restaurants. If you don’t want to purchase your own bar tools, you could always rent them.

beer truck keg and taps

Kegs and taps

If you’re serving beer, you’ll need kegs. Kegs come in a variety of sizes, so make sure you get the right size for your needs. You’ll also need taps for serving beer from kegs.


There are a few extras you might want to consider adding to your mobile bar. For example, you could add a photo booth or a props box to make your bar more fun and interactive.

Are Food Trucks Allowed to Serve Alcohol?

The short answer is: it depends. The laws surrounding food trucks and alcohol are different in every state, so you’ll need to check with your local authorities to see what’s allowed in your area. In some states, food trucks are only allowed to serve alcohol if they’re also licensed as a bar. In other states, food trucks are allowed to serve alcohol as long as they follow certain regulations, such as only serving alcohol to guests 21 and over. So, if you’re thinking about starting a food truck that serves alcohol, be sure to check with your local authorities first to see what’s allowed.

Mobile Alcohol Truck Ideas

Now that you have an idea of what you need to get started, it’s time to start thinking about how to make your mobile bar unique. After all, there are a lot of mobile bars out there, so you’ll want to make sure yours stands out from the rest. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

Bar on Wheels

If you want your mobile bar to be truly unique, consider making it a bar on wheels. This means your bar will be completely mobile, so you can take it wherever you go. To do this, you’ll need to purchase or build a cart or trailer that can hold all of your equipment. You can also add some fun features to your bar, such as awnings or lights.

pub on wheels

Brewery on Wheels

If you’re a fan of craft beer, why not turn your mobile bar into a brewery on wheels? This means you’ll have all the equipment you need to brew your own beer. This is a great way to attract attention to your mobile bar and make it unique.

Wine Wagon

If you’re a fan of wine, why not turn your mobile bar into a wine wagon? This means you can offer a variety of wines, as well as tastings and tours. Mobile wine bars are a sophisticated way to show off your love of wine and are a great addition to formal parties such as weddings or corporate events.

renting food truck for wedding

Mobile Bar for Weddings

If you’re looking to start a mobile bar business, weddings are a great place to start. Mobile bars are becoming increasingly popular at weddings, as they offer a unique way to serve drinks. Some perks of adding a mobile bar to a wedding reception are festive structures (as opposed to a simple bar top and or table), music, and even photo booths. In this way, a mobile bar can handle some of the fun little details that will make a wedding stand out for newlyweds and their guests.

cocktail caravan

Cocktail Caravan

For a more rustic mobile bar option, consider a cocktail caravan. This means your mobile bar will be set up in an old-fashioned caravan, complete with all the amenities you need to make delicious cocktails. This is a great option if you’re looking to add a vintage touch to your mobile bar.

Alcohol delivery

If you’re not interested in setting up a physical mobile bar, you could always start an alcohol delivery service. This means you’ll deliver alcohol directly to people’s homes or businesses. To do this, you’ll need a van or truck that can transport the alcohol, as well as any necessary licenses and permits.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to setting up a mobile bar, so be creative and have fun with it!

How much does it cost to start a mobile bartending business?

One of the reasons the mobile bartending business sounds so tempting is that you actually don’t need much money to get started. If you already have a vehicle that can transport your supplies, then the only other things you’ll need to purchase are alcohol, cups, ice, and mixers. Of course, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of gas and insurance for your vehicle.

Assuming you don’t already have a vehicle and will need to purchase or lease one, the cost of starting a mobile bartending business will be higher. In this case, you’ll need to factor in the cost of the vehicle, as well as the cost of outfitting it with everything you need to get started.

Startup costs for a mobile bartending business range from $6,000 to $12,000. Costs include the mobile bar itself, glassware, and cocktail-making equipment, as well as a vehicle to transport your bar.

If you need to learn bartending skills, you can find a bartending school in your local area, or you can take courses online.

Are mobile alcohol trucks profitable?

Running a mobile bar can be quite a rewarding business. The average gross profit margin for a bar sits somewhere between 70 and 80%. Compare that against nearly every other industry and it’s huge! The net profit margin, after you’ve accounted for the cost of goods sold (COGS), can be anywhere between 10 to 15%.

Industry size and growth

There are no statistics for the mobile bartending industry, but it is closely related to the catering industry since the two services tend to go hand in hand.

  • Industry size and past growth – The U.S. catering industry is worth $16 billion in 2022 after expanding nearly 40% in the last decade.
  • Growth forecast – The U.S. catering industry is projected to grow 4.1% in 2022.
  • Number of businesses – In 2022, 144,560 catering businesses are operating in the U.S.
  • Number of people employed – In 2022, the U.S. catering industry employs 295,017 people.

Trends and challenges

Trends in the mobile bartending industry include:

  • People are seeking customized services from mobile bartenders, like unique cocktail options that the host can choose prior to the event.
  • Many mobile bartending businesses have trucks similar to food trucks so they can operate outdoors.

Challenges in the mobile bartending business:

  • The rising popularity of mobile bartending is making the industry more competitive.
  • It’s difficult to track how much alcohol guests have been served, increasing the potential for over-serving and thus greater chance of liability.

Starting a Mobile Bar Business – Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that starting a mobile bar business can be a fun and rewarding endeavor. Not only are you your own boss, but you also get to be creative with your menu and offerings. And, since the industry is growing, now is a great time to get started.

Just be sure to do your research before diving in. You can find a lot of helpful advice right here on our website. We also recommend that you check out this elaborate and extensive business guide by stepbystepbusiness.com. For any questions you might have, feel free to reach out.