Ordering Alcohol for Parties

You’re planning a party. Everything is set and ready to go, and now you need to make a run to the liquor store to stock up on spirits before guests arrive. How does one decide how much, and what variety of beverages to choose from?

Here is our step-by step advice when placing alcohol orders for parties: 

  • 1. Consider your guest count: our rule of thumb is you should plan for one drink per person, per hour of the party (so, if you are having a 30 person party for two hours, you would plan to serve 60 drinks total). If it is a party that goes later into the night, or a party that is taking place further away (ranch party, etc.) you should account 1.5 drinks per person as you won’t be able to run out and re-stock if you are in a pinch.

  • 2. What to order? A “full bar” consists of: Liquor (Vodka, Rum, Gin, Whiskey, Tequila), Wine (red and white), Beer (2-3 options) and Champagne/Sparkling Wine. You know you will need to have a variety of these items on hand, in addition to drink mixers. Consider the season, and your guests when determining rations. Middle of 100 + degree summer? You probably won’t be serving too much red wine. Ladies luncheon? Maybe order less of the tequila. You get the idea—think about your crowd and what is popular among the group.

  • 3. Mixers: Depending on your party, this list can span from minimal to elaborate. At a minimum, you will want to have: soda, tonic, water, coke, diet coke, sprite, lemons and limes. If you want to spice up, you can add: grapefruit/orange/cranberry/pineapple juice, vermouth, olives, maraschino cherries, ginger ale, simple syrup, or any ingredients you need for a signature cocktail. And don’t forget the ice!
  • 4. Speaking of signature cocktails, are you planning to serve one of these? If so, plan on enough for one drink for 50% of your guest count. These will usually get picked up at the beginning of the evening. More than likely, guests will stick with what they know on their second cocktail.

  • 5. Rule of thumb on quantity: So just how much of each product should you buy? This brings us back to #2 (consider the crowd). When planning numbers, we usually plan that each guest will have at least 1-1.5 glasses of wine. Vodka tends to be poured about twice as much as other spirits, followed by whiskey/scotch. Keep the rum, gin and tequila on hand, but unless you know your crowd consumes a lot of this, keep the quantities lower.

  • 6. Ratios: one cocktail consists of 1.5-2 oz. of liquor. So, when purchasing spirits, be sure to consider the following:

750ml= 12 drinks

1 Liter bottle = 16 drinks

1.5 Liter= 25 drinks

1.75 Liter= 30 drinks

1 Bottle of wine= 4-5 glasses

1 Bottle of champagne= 4-5 glasses

  • 7. Last but not least, don’t cool or open everything at once. Once you chill the beer or wine, you shouldn’t take it back to room temperature. So, unless you have a great place to store leftover alcohol after the party, be considerate of just how much you put on ice before guests arrive. Also, if you are serving wine, it is good to stay 1-2 bottles ahead and let them breathe before you serve. That said; don’t go opening an entire case of wine at once. You run the risk of having un-drunken wine leftover that will more than likely have to be poured out at the end of the evening.