If you are throwing a wedding, housewarming party, 40th birthday party, or any other big bash, you may be wondering how much alcohol you need to buy. If you read our How Many Glasses Do You Need? blog, you may be searching for some additional information on how much alcohol to actually buy to go in those glasses.
As you may know, you should plan on one drink per guest for each hour of your function. This should ensure you have enough alcohol for your party (unless you are having a college fraternity party – then you may have to rethink your calculations). So, you can use the following formula:
# of guests x hours of party time
Let’s assume you are throwing a 4 hour party for 250 guests. In other words, you will need 250 guests x 4 hours = 1000 drinks.
Now, let’s assume you will serve beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
BEER: How Much Do You Need?
40% of all party drinks are beer. So you will need to use:
# of total drinks x 40%
1000 x 40% = 400 beers
We recommend bottled beer but if you are having a keg, you need to make sure you can serve 400 beers. (NOTE: Most kegs contain 15.5 gallons of beer or 165 12-oz servings.)
WINE: How Much Do You Need?
Wine accounts for 60% of all remaining drinks. So you can use the formula:
(Total # of Drinks – Beers) x 60%
(1000 – 400) x 60% = 360 glasses of wine
A standard bottle of wine (750ml) serves approximately 6 glasses, but unless you are really careful about how much you are pouring, you may not get the full 6. I like to use 5 glasses per bottle for my calculations, then you are sure to have enough. To figure out how many bottles you will need, you can simply divide the total number of glasses you need by 5. In this case: 360 glasses of wine / 5 glasses per bottle = 72 bottles of wine needed.
Now you need to decide how many bottles of red, white, and sparkling wine you need. In order to do this, you should consider whether the event is an indoor/fall, winter, spring event or an outdoor/summer event. In case of an indoor/fall, winter, spring event people will drink more red wine so you should plan for 50% of the bottles being red, 25% white, and 25% sparkling. In our example, this would mean you need 36 bottles of red, 18 bottles of white, and 18 bottles of sparkling. If you are planning an outdoor/summer event, you can split the bottles evenly between red, white and sparkling. Using our numbers, this would mean you needed 24 bottles of each red, white, and sparkling.
When buying multiple bottles of wine, you will definitely want to buy it by the case. I always round up to the next case. Having a few extra bottles ensures that you will not run out and maybe you will have a few bottles left over for hostess gifts or to drink while you wind down!
SPIRITS: How Much Do You Need for Mixed Drinks?
Any drinks that are not wine or beer will fall into the mixed drink category. You can calculate this as:
Total # of Drinks – Beer – Wine = # of Mixed Drinks
Calculating what you need to buy for this category is WAY trickier and depends entirely on the types of mixed drinks you will be serving. Limiting the choices to one or two “signature cocktails” can help you decipher how much alcohol and mixers you will need to purchase.
The average cocktail uses:
For example, if you are making mojito which contains rum, lime juice, and club soda, you can assume you need 1.5 oz rum, 1/4 oz lime juice, and 4-6 oz club soda. You just need to figure out how many ounces your bottle of rum contains, and divide that by 1.5 to know how many cocktails you can make with that bottle and then do the same with your accent juices and mixers.
If you are serving champagne for a champagne toast, you will need one bottle of champagne for every 8 guests. This should give you enough champagne to have 1/2 glass for each guest for the toast. In our example, this would be 250 guests/8 = 31.25 bottles of champagne (rounding up, you need 32 bottles).
Don’t Forget the Water
In all the discussion about how much alcohol to buy, don’t forget that all guests will need water at some point in the event. Make sure you have plenty! You can estimate that guests will drink about 12 ounces every 1/2 hour – hour during the party. We recommend tap water where possible to help preserve the environment. Did you know that only 8% of plastic water bottles are actually recycled? That leaves a lot of water bottles filling up our landfills! If serving tap water you need to account for 4 12-oz glasses per person or 1000 glasses of water.
If you keep these tips in mind, you can rest assured that you will have everything you need (drink-wise) for your big event. If you need glasses, tables, chairs, etc. check out loanables.com to find, compare, and rent.