When it comes to knowing how much you need, the number of guests is the primary determining factor. Expect one alcoholic beverage per guest per hour.
If you know your guests' preferences on drinks (beer, wine, spirits, or soft drinks), you can calculate what you need accordingly. If you're unsure about guests' preferences, purchase a mix of beverages with some to spare. Ask your beverage retailer if you can return unopened bottles. Even if you can't return them, most unopened bottles will keep well long after the party so you don't need to be concerned about waste. If you entertain frequently, you may want to shop in quantity to get discounts on large purchases
To help you with the calculations, we've made the party math simple. Our free Beverage Quantity Guide, available below, offers shopping recommendations for each item you'll need based on guest count. Whether you have six guests or 50, the chart lists how much of each beverage item you'll need. It also provides separate information for wine-and-beer-only parties and for parties that offer a full bar.
If you want to make your own estimates, start with these party assumptions.
-- Nonalcoholic beverages: Assume guests will drink two servings in the first hour and one for each additional hour of the party. If the weather is warm, expect guests to drink a bit more.
-- Wine: One 750-milliliter bottle of wine provides five to six glasses, depending on your pour. During a party, plan one bottle for every two guests.
-- Beer: Estimate that guests will drink about 12 ounces (one bottle) every half hour to hour during the party.
-- Cocktails: Allow 1-1/2 ounces of liquor for each drink. A 750-milliliter bottle (fifth) makes about 16 drinks. Figure about a quart of mixer for every three guests.
Remember, not every guest will want every option you offer. Our Beverage Quantity Guide is an easy tool to get the right mix for most parties.
Continued on page 3: Gather Bar Essentials for the Party