How much alcohol to buy and what alcoholic drinks to serve is as basic to party planning as the menu.
To many of us serving liquor and how to properly mix drinks is a total mystery.
Peruse this guide for tips on amounts to purchase, bottle yields, and other valuable information.
The responsibility and importance of alcohol safety cannot be stressed enough
In some states, a host can be held criminally liable, if a guest becomes inebriated and then injures himself or others
Although difficult, keep an eye on how much is being consumed and by whom. Enlist the help of friends and designated drivers
Always have food and non-alcoholic drinks available and above all else...
DON'T LET PEOPLE DRIVE DRUNK!
If possible ask your guests about their favorite libations beforehand
but the best and easiest course is to decide on what you can afford and
what you are willing to serve.
Fun and Flavorful Drink Recipes
Light wines, wine spritzers, fruit flavored frozen drinks and Champagne are nice for a brunch or luncheon. Cocktail or appetizer only parties are open to a variety of beverages. Wine, beer and soda are of course your easiest options.
Mixed drinks can be as simple as a scotch and soda or as involved as a Manhattan. They require different types of spiritsl (liqueurs, variety wines), equipment (blenders, juicers, jiggers, strainers and pitchers) and, carbonated water, syrups and fruit garnishes.
More elaborate mixed drinks also require some "know how" and maybe even a little practice. If you have a friend who is comfortable making such drinks, make sure he/she is invited.
Dinner parties are the perfect occasion for wines and liqueurs. Liqueurs are distilled spirits combined with a sweetener and one or more aromatic flavorings such as orange, peach, coffee, cocoa and almond.
Obviously, the time of day and the type of party will factor into how much liquor you serve. The amount consumed at a evening holiday party will be much more then at an late afternoon birthday brunch.
As a starting point, assume 2 drinks per person for the first hour of the party, and 1 drink per person per hour for the remainder of the party.
These calculations assume a 5 hour party of 12 guests:
12 guests x 2 drinks = 24 drinks for the first hour of the party
12 guests x 1 drink x 4 hours = 48 drinks for the remaining 4 hours of the party
Total = 72 drink servings
Now, let's be realistic. We all have friends and family members who are not the least bit concerned with your drink per hour estimates and will drink until their heart's content. You gotta love 'em. At the same time we also all have family and friends who are teetotalers or who drink very little.
It will all balance out in the end.
How much you buy will depend on the type of booze the majority of your guests drink. If your guests are would-be wine connoisseurs, then you would purchase more wine then anything else.
The following chart is a starting point in calculating the number of bottles and types of alcohol to purchase.
It is probably better to have too much then to have to make a "beer run" in the middle of your party. Double the estimate for 24 guests or halve the estimate for 6 quests
Again, the chart is based on a 5 hour party with 12 quests = 72 total drink servings needed
|White wine||3 bottles|
|Red wine||3 bottles|
|Beer||6-8 (12 ounce) bottles|
|Bourbon, Vodka, Gin, Rum, Scotch||
1 bottle each; at least three types
|Favorite sodas: cola, diet cola, 7-UP, Sprite, ginger ale, lemonade, tea||
1 liter each, especially if serving simple mixed drinks
|Mineral Water||3 (1-liter) bottles|
|Ice (for drinks only, purchase extra for coolers, etc)||1/2 pound per person|
Alcohol is probably the biggest party planning expense. With this in mind, consider the number of drinks per bottle/container of alcohol and spend accordingly. Use this chart with or without calculating the exact amount of spirits you will serve
|Spirit||Size of Bottle/Keg||
|Whiskey, Rum, Scotch, etc||
|1.5 oz. jigger||16
|1.5 oz. jigger||
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