Here are my simple guidelines, in order, and some suggestions for using them.
Estimating Alcohol Needs For Events
- Allow 1 bottle of beer, alcoholic drink or glass of wine per adult guest per hour. Multiply the number of hours by number of adults to get the number of drinks you need.
- If beer is available, half of your guests will drink it. Buy half the number of drinks needed in bottles of beer.
- If hard alcohol is available, half of the remaining guests will drink it. Buy enough ounces of hard alcohol to cover half the number of remaining drinks needed.
- Each bottle of wine will cover 5 drinks. Plan that 75% of wine drinkers will drink red wine, unless you know otherwise. Buy 3 bottles of red wine for each bottle of white to cover the remaining drinks needed.
- If you’re hosting and providing free alcohol, increase the quantities by half.
- Don’t order a keg unless you’re confident you can consume it within 3 days regardless of the success of your event. Buy bottles instead. They’re easier to serve, especially so to larger crowds. (A standard keg serves about 80 glasses of beer).
That’s it! If you follow these rules, you’ll probably end up with about 10% extra, unless you’ve overestimated the number of guests or how long the event will last. I’ve rarely seen anyone underestimate how many guests will arrive (especially for a business event).
Feel free to order a bit more if you would want to take any extra home for later enjoyment. If you don’t plan on drinking the leftovers, it’s better to stick with these figures pretty tightly, and load up on non-alcoholic punch and sodas. If your crowd imbibes more than 1 drink per hour each, they should be switching to punch anyway! (these figures work because there are as many over-imbibers as there are under)
Of course, if you break out the beer bong, all bets are off.