Here is everything you need to know about buying alcohol for a party. There are few things worse than running out of alcohol at a party and having to do the dreaded mid-party alcohol run to the nearest liquor store. So, instead of guessing how much alcohol will be enough for your next event, read through our guide below. We’ve summed up everything you need to know about buying alcohol for a party to make hosting your next party a success!

Planning ahead

This one goes without saying. Luckily we’ve got the perfect party planner tool to help you calculate how many alcoholic beverages you’ll need to keep all of your guests happy and their glasses filled. Whether you’re hosting a 1-hour meet and greet or planning a marathon event into the wee hours of the night, we’ve got you covered. Our party planner will let you know not just how much alcohol, but how much of each kind of alcohol to get. Check it out here. 

You can adjust the party planner tool depending on the ratio of wine, liquor, or beer you’d like to have. It will calculate how many bottles of each you’ll need, depending on how many guests you expect to have at your event. Our party planner tool takes care of the nitty-gritty calculations for you.  In case you’re wondering, one 750ml bottle of liquor typically equals 20 drinks, and a 750ml bottle of wine contains 5 servings.

How much do I need?

While there are few things worse than running out of alcohol at a party, it’s also possible to go overboard and have too much booze. Plan on your guests having between 1-2 alcoholic beverages per hour at your party and account for a little extra as well.

Know your crowd

Usually it’s the case that if you offer something to drink at an event, your guests take advantage of your generosity. While it’s always nice to offer your guests different options to sip on, knowing your crowd goes a long way. Does everyone in your crowd drink alcohol? Do you need to factor in some non-alcoholic beverages as well? If you’re throwing a Super Bowl watch party with your buddies, you’ll probably want to make sure you’re stocked up on mostly beer, whereas a get-together for wine enthusiasts will undoubtedly mean you’ll need mostly wine.

Low ABV

It is important to know your crowd’s preferences. Having some delicious non-alcoholic beverages is a must, especially if you have any guests that are non-drinkers. Non-alcoholic drinks can be enjoyed by everyone and keeps everyone hydrated. Serving plenty of water is always a good idea, as well. Our favorite reasonably sophisticated and easy to make non-alcoholic drinks are mineral water with a splash of fresh lemon juice and bitters, or a non-alcoholic mint mojito.

Setup

Designate one area of your space for alcohol. Once your party is underway, having a bar area will make it easy for your guests to refill their own glasses. Plus, it will keep extra mess out of the way. If you know whether your guests will be bringing bottles or beer to share, you can also plan ahead to create room for where they can put their bottles. Arrange your drink station so that your guests can have enough room to get drinks without blocking others. That way, everyone will have room to walk around and mingle. Plus, no one enjoys a traffic jam of people trying to get drinks and snacks.

Since it’s easier to clean spills off the counter and tile than wooden floors or carpet, the kitchen is always a safe place for the bar. If you’re worried about your kitchen surface, you can always opt for extra spill protection by using bar mats, or plastic tablecloths.

So now that we’ve got the party planning details, let’s talk about the next most important step: deciding what kind of alcohol  you’ll be serving. Here are a few fail-safe tips for serving cocktails, wine, and beer.

Cocktails

If you’re mixing up cocktails, you’ll want a ratio of about 3/1 mixer to liquor. Make sure to stock up on your favorite mixers/soda as well as ice. You may also want to pick up a bottle of Vermouth, bitters, and lemons/limes for garnish.

If you plan on having a self-serve bar, stock up on the usual staples of:

  • vodka
  • whiskey
  • tequila
  • white rum
  • gin
  • scotch or bourbon

Some our go-to mixers for a well stocked bar include:

  • Tonic
  • Ginger ale
  • Cola
  • Diet cola
  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Tomato juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Orange juice
  • Cranberry juice

Set out garnishes like lime wedges, orange peels, and olives to the side, with toothpicks for your guests. Try to prepare anything that can be pre-made before your guests arrive. For example, pre-cut your garnishes 1 hour ahead of your party so that they’ll be fresh and ready to use.

Make a signature cocktail ahead of the party. Not only will it impress your guests, it provides your guests a self-serve, ready-to-drink cocktail. That way, there is less work for you! We have plenty of delicious pitcher and batch cocktail recipes for large groups. Some batch cocktails we enjoy serving are a white or red sangria — or both. Perhaps, your group may fancy a light and refreshing punch. Unless you plan on having extra help, we recommend sticking to one signature cocktail so you won’t be stuck behind the bar mixing drinks all night. Which brings us to our next item…bartenders!

Bartenders

If you want to take your event to the next level, get a bartender to complete your party. We know how stressful hosting can be. With a bartender manning the drink station and mixing up cocktails, that’s one less thing for you to do. You can relax and focus on enjoying your time with your guests. We recommend one bartender for every 50 people at your event. Bartender options are available for 3 hours, 4 hours, or 5 hours. Once you’ve placed your order for a bartender, we’ll reach out to you to confirm your party details. We can also work out any special requests you might have.

Wine

Summer and daytime events call for more white and rose, while red may be better suited for winter and evening events. White wine is typically more popular than red, so we’d recommend stocking up on a few more bottles of white. In the summer it’s best to chill your wine, even your reds if it’s over 90°. Sparkling wine is a wonderful addition to special events, but won’t be expected at most parties. If you want a champagne toast (most weddings), we suggest you include 1 bottle for every 5 guests you’ll have.

Beer

For summer or outdoor events, lighter beers are the way to go.  A nice dark ale or lager, however, can do wonders for a winter or indoor party. Make sure to stock up on extra ice to chill your beer. If you have a larger party planned, you can also have kegs delivered. Next office happy hour, anyone? Start your event off with the keg. That way, you won’t have to worry about the beer going flat after tapping it. Have a few extra cases of canned or bottled beer on hand in case the keg runs out. If it doesn’t, you can always save these for the next party.

Anything else?

Depending on what your event is, we have other party-perfect essentials available for delivery. You can get bags of ice, cups, bar tools, mixers, napkins, candles, and more.

If you’re hosting a long party in the evening, a great way to end the party is with a dessert— or a dessert beverage. One dessert cocktail we enjoy is the espresso martini, since it gives your guests a little pick-me-up before they head home. We also like the brandy alexander, a rich, decadent treat with cognac. If you’re looking for something simpler, brandy or fortified wine are also great options to close out the evening.Cheers!

Now you know everything you need to know about buying alcohol for a party! Say goodbye to worrying if you’ve purchased enough alcohol for your guests at your next party. Instead, you can kick back with your guests and enjoy, knowing you’ve planned the perfect event with the right amount of beverages. Congratulate yourself on being a party planning expert with one of our hi-fives!

Looking for more tips? Check out our guide on how to stock your home bar.