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Party Planning: A Drink Calculator for Weddings, Graduations and More

Posted by Beau Farrell on Aug 12, 2019 2:24:00 PM

drink calculator

Party planning is fun, but it also requires some math. Whether it’s a graduation party, a sports viewing, a wedding reception, or a big weekend hangout, you want to have the right amount of alcohol available for the number of people in attendance. We've got the answers - but it helps to first consider a handful of key questions.

  • Did you invite light, average, or heavy drinkers?
  • How many adults over the age of 21 will be drinking?
  • How much money are you willing to spend?
  • Will you have only beer, only wine, only spirits, or a combination of everything?
  • Will someone be bartending, or will it be self-serve?

Pro Tip: Don’t forget non-alcoholic beverages for your underage and non-drinking guests. And don't skimp on the food, either. Plan to have at least a few finger foods or snacks to munch on.

Drinks You'll Want to Consider

It doesn’t hurt to have a variety of drinks available. For example, here are some good ways to stock your party bar:

  1. Pick a spirit like gin or vodka.
  2. Grab a bottle of brown liquor like bourbon, scotch, or whiskey.
  3. Have some mixer ingredients handy: club soda, ice, lemons and limes for garnishes, simple syrup, bitters for classic cocktails, juice (orange, cranberry), and sodas (cola, ginger ale).
  4. Feeling like extra is better? Include rum and tequila, or champagne if it’s a fancy affair.
  5. Some people prefer red wines, others prefer white wines. Know your audience or just get some of each – maybe even rosé. You could even go hyper-local with Minnesota wineries.
  6. Pick local beer if possible. We’re lucky to have lots of great brewers in Minnesota.

Know how far a bottle goes.

  • One bottle of wine (750ml) contains about 5 glasses.
  • One bottle of spirits (750ml) contains 17 shots (1.5 ounces each).
  • Bottles or cans of beer... well, you know how this goes.

Crunch the Numbers

How much to buy? Here’s where you will be grateful you paid attention in math class. As a general rule of thumb, plan on most guests consuming 1.5 drinks in the first hour of arrival and then one drink per hour thereafter. It sounds like one of those old-fashioned word problems, but here is the basic math:

(Number of guests X 1.5) + (Number of guests X party hours after the first hour) = Total Drinks

Let’s work out the math with an example. Say you want to throw a party with 25 friends that lasts about four hours.

First 1.5 hours: 25 people x 1.5 drinks each = 37.5 drinks

Next 3 hours: 25 people x 3 drinks each = 75 drinks

Total drink count: 112.5

For your 25 friends, you’ll need enough beer, wine, and liquor to serve about 113 drinks.

Identify the Drinks

This is the final part of the cheat sheet you’ll want to reference for each kind of alcohol. Try the 50-25-25 breakdown:

  • About 50% of guests will drink wine
  • About 25% will drink beer
  • About 25% will drink spirits

Using our example of 25 guests and their roughly 113 drinks, that means you should plan to have:

  • Wine for about 67 drinks (11 bottles)
  • Roughly 28 bottles or cans of beer (two 12-packs and a 6-pack)
  • About 2 bottles of spirits

Let’s be honest: it’s important to be considerate of other people and know your expectations and limits. You’ll probably drink a fair amount more at a bachelorette party and a night up at the cabin with your buddies than you’ll drink at lunch with your relatives from out of town. If you need to get even more specific, think about these other variables:

  • What type of party is it – one with lots of drinking expected or less?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What is the ratio of adults to children on the guest list?
  • What ratio of guests will likely drink wine, beer, or cocktails?
  • What kind of alcohol do people like? If it's a wine crowd - do your guests like red, white, rose or a combination?

Now that you have an idea of how many drinks you’ll need, you can get to the fun part: buying the libations and enjoying them with your guests. Here’s to many more great parties you’ll throw with the right amount of drinks!

Food, Drinks, and Different Event Types

You might need a few simple ideas for the kinds of food and drinks you can serve together at your next event. Choose what you think will best suit the mood, the time of year, and the kind of get-together you want.

Here are some great wine suggestions for great - crowd-friendly - party wine that won't break the bank:




Still not sure what to buy? No worries. Hire a professional bartender from Haskell's! Our bartenders-for-hire can work with you on your budget and selections. You'll save money, time, and a few worries by trusting our experienced professionals to run the bar. And, of course, Haskell's delivers. Whether you need a case of beer or ten.

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Topics: Life is Better Paired With