One of the most frequent questions I hear is how to estimate the cost and quantities of alcohol for your reception. No quick an easy answer for this one so settle in; a few key points to consider when answering this questions.
First, I always recommend that you consult a professional alcohol retailer and buy from a provider who can deliver to the venue. Delivery is the best decision you’ll make; storing and wrangling cases of alcohol prior to your celebration then making sure it is at the venue when the bartenders arrive is complicated. You’ve enough on your plate, let the pros handle this one. Including delivery means you may order exactly what you want and feel confident it will be on site without complication. As a bonus, most retailers will allow you to return unopened bottles so you won’t be stuck with Aunt Sue’s white wine.
Second, do you intend to include full bar service, wine & beer, wine, beer & signature cocktails? The choice you make will not only guide the quantities needed, but also the cost of the bar service from your provider.
Another consideration is picking a caterer who includes bar service or a stand alone bartending company. Keep in mind when including bartending through your caterer, you will have additional staff able to pitch in wherever needed. However, a stand alone service may be best for creating craft cocktails or your special signature cocktail. Not all stand alone services are alike; consider if they will provide ice, cups or glasses, cocktail napkins and stirrers, garnishes or mixers, etc. All of these items can become cumbersome if you are providing them, especially if you are providing the alcohol as well. Finding a service that will fill in the details while you provide the alcohol is always the best way to go.
Finally, how much alcohol is needed to ensure the bar does not run dry. There are many online calculators, but here is a breakdown that I find best fits Grove couples with a full bar (based on a 100 guests open bar for five hours):
Alcohol/Beer/Wine–Beer: 5 to 6 cases, Whiskey: 1 liter, Bourbon: 1 liter,
Gin: 2 to 3 liters, Scotch: 2 liters, Rum: 2 liters, Vodka: 6 liters, Tequila: 1 liter, Champagne: 1 to 1 1/2 cases (include an additional 18 bottles for a champagne toast), Red wine: 2 cases, White wine: 3 1/2 cases, Dry vermouth: 1 liter, Sweet vermouth: 1 liter.
Mixers–Tonic: 1 case, Club soda: 1 case, Cranberry juice: 2 gallons,
Orange juice: 1 gallon, Grapefruit juice: 1 gallon, Ginger ale: 1 case,
Triple sec: 1 liter, Lime juice: 1 gallon, Sparkling water: 2 cases,
Bottled water: 3 cases, Diet coke: 2 cases, Coke: 2 cases
For another easy way of estimating beer, wine, champagne or liquor remember one drink per person per hour:
1 bottle of champagne = 6-8 glasses
1 bottle of wine = 5 glasses
1 liter of liquor = 18 drinks
1 case of beer = 24 drinks (duh!)
Keep in mind sodas and water are not for individual consumption. A seperate non-alcoholic beverage station should be provided by your caterer. At minimum chilled water and iced tea with their own cups and sweetners should be available during the entire celebration.
My final comments about cocktail service have everything to do with being safe. The Grove, as with most reputable venues, does not allow shots or doubles. The goal of bar service is to provide a drink not a drink fest. To that end, we limit bar service to five hours and the bar must close 30 minutes prior to the couple’s exit. Make sure to include appetizers with cocktail service, dinner should not be the only food offered when providing your guests with alcohol. Finally, encourage your guests to find alternative transportation. Car ride services like Uber and Lyft are excellent choices that allow your guests to drink resonsponsibly and arrive home safely.
Of course I have a list of my favorite caterers who provide bar service as well as a few great stand alone services ready to serve you. Our inclusive packages also include bar service (you provide the alcohol) that are excellent choices.
Cheers to planning!