There are several factors you'll want to consider when you calculate the amount of alcohol you'll need for a party.
- How long is the party?
- Do you know if your guests are heavy drinkers?
- How much variety will you offer? And if you offer variety, how will you balance the choices between beer, wine, and mixed drinks? What kind of drinkers are your guests?
- What kind of party are you planning? Is it a cocktail party where drinks are the focus or a sit-down dinner where it's all about the food and wine?
As you can see, deciding how much alcohol to purchase is more of an art than science. For example, a rule of thumb for a cocktail party where you plan to serve only wine and/or champagne is to plan on one bottle to serve every two guests, every two hours. Another rule of thumb which has worked for me is, for the average drinker, calculate 1 drink per person, per hour and then increase that amount by approximately 25% to be on the safe side. On the other hand, if it's a very hot day or you're serving salty or spicy food, your guests will drink more!
There are several strategies you can use to save money on your alcohol budget. Those include:
- Limiting the menu to wine and/or beer. The more variety you serve, the more liquor, mixers, and garnishes you will need to complete your bar.
- Limit the bar to a "menu" of mixed drinks. This limits the number of items you'll need to complete your bar.
- Create an alcoholic punch which will "stretch" your liquor budget.
- Add to the bar several selections of non-alcoholic drinks to quench your guests' thirst, including water, ice tea, and soft drinks. A guest who may have taken another mixed drink because he was simply thirsty, may choose water instead.