By Ashley Veenendaal
One of the most common questions we get in the event planning industry is “How much alcohol should I plan for my event?” Running out of alcohol before guests have had a reasonable and fun number of drinks is definitely a joy kill at the party. If you are not using a bar service who specialize in estimating the amount of alcohol needed, then there are a few rules of thumb that will keep the party going.
How long will your party be going on?
Most often guests will imbibe 2 drinks in the first hour and one per hour thereafter. So if you are planning on a 4-hour party you will want to be prepared for guests to drink 4-5 drinks during that time. Of course there will be guests who drink more and those who drink less. This more often than not will even things out.
That being said you will also want to consider who your guests are. This may be a generous amount for a group of light drinkers (always better to have some left over for next time). Or it may be lacking for a group of hard drinkers (consider how drunk you want to see your guests and what the transportation plan is afterward before upping the amount of alcohol.)
How much do you get from a bottle?
There are hundreds of alcohol math calculators online but some standard measurements, (depending on how heavy handed you are with the pour), look like this:
Wine: 5-6 glasses per bottle
Champagne:6-7 glasses per bottle
Beer: You will have to decide if your guests love their beer or prefer something else. This will determine whether you plan on 2 bottles/cans or 5. Keep in mind local & craft breweries also have a higher alcohol content. Here in Utah we don’t have kegs, so for those of you who are having an event were they are legal, ask the purveyor.
Spirits: Vodka, Rum, Whiskey, Gin & Tequila. These are the basics that guests will ask for. 15-20 pours per bottle depending on the cocktail. You will want to look at the amount of each liquor & mixers going into a drink to determine more accurately how many bottles you will need.
What are you serving?
If you are only serving beer and wine generally guests will drink more red wine (unless it’s summer & it’s hot) then consider adding some rose to the mix. Otherwise plan on buying more red than white. This is where you have to gauge whether your guests are bigger wine or beer drinkers.
For a full bar we would suggest 50% wine, 30% beer & 20% spirits, again it’s going to really help if you know your crowd. Another fun suggestion is to serve beer, wine & one or two signature cocktails. It makes the bar memorable if guests are offered a delicious new cocktail as well as minimizing the variety of alcohol you will need to purchase. Often signature cocktails can also be designed to work without alcohol for your non-drinking guests and it’s important not to neglect them. Have fun, be safe & DON’T RUN OUT OF BOOZE.