We get the questions all the time: I’m having a party – how much wine and liquor do I need? What types of wine and liquor do I need? What am I going to do with all the extra?… You get the picture, and I’m sure that if you ever planned a party you probably had similar questions.
Although every party, event, or gathering is unique, I’ll do my best to answer some of these questions here.
To start with, the type of party you are having will have an impact in the types and quantity of alcohol your guests will consume. A backyard BBQ may require more beer, white wine, and vodka while an evening cocktail party in the middle of winter will most definitely require more red wine and brown spirits. The best way to think about this is that in warmer weather people tend to drink “lighter” drinks – vodka with juice or tea, rum and coke, gin and tonics, and of course chilled white wine and probably some lighter beer. In cooler weather or in evening hours, many people gravitate to more warming drinks such as manhattans, scotches, and hearty red wines. This of course is not an exact science and everyone’s beverage of choice ultimately comes down to their mood at the moment and possibly what else they plan to drink or eat at the event.
The next major thing to consider is how much and what type of food will be served. If there are only light appetizers or no food at all, people will tend to drink a bit less because they will start feeling the effects sooner. When serving full heavy meals people will tend to drink a bit more and also may gravitate away from beer if they are feeling too full.
In terms of what to serve, that is always up to you, the host. While most guests expect a reasonable selection, no one should expect that every party they go to will have the exact type of wine or liquor that they enjoy. And often people that are very selective about what they enjoy will bring a bottle of that themselves (it is important that you ensure this is open for them to enjoy if they brought it). While you do have to cater for wider tastes than just your own, you can also try to stick to products that you know you won’t mind finishing if any is left or something you know someone close to you enjoys so they can take it with them.
With wine, you should have at least one white and one red option. If you know that many of your guests are wine drinkers you may want to have a couple whites and/or reds to choose from. If you are going with one of each, a Pinot Grigio is often a good choice for white while a Merlot or Pinot Noir can usually satisfy a wide range of red drinkers. If you want to offer a wider selection you can add in a sweeter white like a Riesling or Moscato (which you may need anyway if you know your guests like sweet!). With reds you can add a Cabernet or a Malbec if your guests are regular wine drinkers. And, of course, if you are celebrating a special occasion of some sorts you will definitely want some sparkling wine or Champagne (more and more people are also recognizing that bubbly isn’t just for celebrating anymore!).
Liquor selection can vary quite a bit based on what you know about your guests. A good guideline is to have at least vodka, whiskey, rum, and gin. Within each of these general products there is a good deal of variety which is where things often get confusing. We always recommend paying attention to what your friends are asking for at the bar or other parties so you have a better idea of what they will probably want at your party. A plain vodka is a must, but flavored vodkas are a great addition if you are preparing a “signature cocktail” for you event. Whiskey can be broken down into Scotch, Bourbon, Canadian, American, and Blended – if you are having a winter cocktail party, having a couple different varieties to choose from would be great, while during a summer party having an American, Canadian, or blended would be enough. Rums are generally divided into spiced and regular, you’ll never please all rum drinkers with only one choice, but if you don’t want both just stick with a regular. And for gin, a mid level London dry is usually sufficient to keep everyone happy. Exceptions to these recommendations would be if you know certain people that are coming always drink a particular brand or style of something – then feel free to substitute that in.
Quantities are nearly impossible to get right. Inevitably, whatever you buy the least of will be the most popular :). Overall, you can typically expect people to have two drinks in the first hour of a party and one for every hour after. That means if you are having 10 people for a four hour party you can expect to serve about 50 drinks or on average 5/person. The mix of wine to liquor to beer will vary quite a lot depending on the numerous factors above and the type of crowd you have so it is hard to give a general answer to this, but when you come in we will be happy to give some thoughts depending on the type of event.
It is usually a good idea to buy a little more than you think you will need to be on the safe side. But don’t worry, you won’t always get stuck with a bunch of booze and wine you don’t like. Be sure to keep extra bottles hidden away until they are needed because anything that doesn’t get opened and has been stored properly without damage to the packaging can be brought back to the store within a week or two and with the receipt. Please discuss with us when buying how this works and what types of returns we can accept. As for the bottles that are opened, the wine you will have to consume or dump within a couple days because it will go bad. The liquor however will stay good for years, so you can put it aside for your next event.
Hope this helps you plan your next party. Please feel free to reach out with any questions 716-655-0450. And feel free to add your advice in the comments below!