How to plan for party beverages

There is a lot to consider when determining quantity of drinks to purchase for your party. You must consider the following:
1) How many guests are you expecting?
2) How many drink alcohol?
3) What alcohol are you going to serve – Beer/Wine or Liquor too?
4) What non-alcoholic beverages are you going to serve? Kids drinks?
4) How long do you expect your guests to be at your party?

How to determine how much alcohol you need for a party

For an average drinker, consider 1 drink per hour. In general terms, the experts say 40% drink beer, 30% liquor and 30% wine but this is where you factor in knowing your guests. If it is a bunch of guys watching football – you may plan for 100% drinking beer and having more than 1 per hour! If you are having 50 guests for 3 hours to a cocktail party, then you’d want something around 60 bottles of beer (50*40%*3hrs=60 bottles), 11 bottles of wine (50*30%*3hrs=45 servings/4 glasses per bottle), and a bottle each of vodka (maybe two of these), rum and bourbon/whiskey. The good thing about the beverages, is they won’t go bad. If you overbuy, you can keep whatever is left with the only impact being your wallet.

There are a lot of great beverage calculators on the Internet. Search for Beverage Calculator and put in your information to a couple of them as they use different algorithms. Average the two and you should be good.

How to decide what alcohol to purchase

If serving liquor:
Some of the basic mixed drinks that most people enjoy are:

    Rum & Coke
    Vodka & Tonic
    Vodka & Cranberry
    Bourbon (on the rocks or with water)
    Scotch (on the rocks, with water or with club soda)

Don’t forget: Ice, “Fruit” (e.g. lemon, lime, other)
We like to buy most of the mixers in the small ‘single’ serve bottles/cans. That way if you open a bottle of tonic and only make one drink with it, nothing is going to waste.

If serving beer/wine:
Beer – A variety of beer is good to have around. Gone are the days of everyone drinking Bud Light or Miller Light. We are grown-ups and enjoy beer with substance. Certainly, have a light beer around for those guests that want it and don’t put too much thought into the brand of light beer unless it goes with a theme (e.g. Corona Light for a beach party). For guests with a more sophisticated palate, you’ll want to have two ale varieties and a lager variety. Here are a few of our favorites:
Pale Ale and Extra Pale Ale – Sweetwater 420, Terrapin Hopsecutioner, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bell’s Hopslam Ale
Lager – Sam Adams, Stella Artois
Wheat Ale -Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen
Brown Ale – Newcastle
Stout – Guinness Draught Can

Wine – When it comes to wine, well, that’s easy. To be safe, you can’t go wrong with a Cabernet Sauvignon for your red and a Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay for your white. If we are invited to your party, however, please don’t serve Chardonnay – neither of us likes it 😉 Kidding aside, serve the varietal that (a) suits what you are serving for food and theme (b) suits your budget and (c) you won’t mind drinking what is leftover. In this day and age, just about anywhere you shop for wine has someone who can help you pick out a bottle that will fit all of the above. Don’t be afraid to ask what will work best.

Water – Don’t forget the water. People always want a nice cold bottle of water at a party. Make sure you have enough. It won’t go to waste so it’s easy to over buy. However, if you are having a sit down dinner, please don’t serve a bottle of water. Make sure you plan for water glasses and either serve in advance to folks sitting down or provide on the buffet for folks to grab prior to heading to their seat.

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