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8 min read

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

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Party planning can be really fun, but anyone who’s planned an event might say that it’s also stressful.

Whether it’s a graduation party, a sports viewing, a holiday celebration, a wedding reception, or a big weekend hangout, you want to make sure everything goes smoothly and, most importantly, you have enough food and beverages for your guests.

Having (or not having) the right amount of alcohol could make or break your party. But have no fear, we’re here to help! Let’s start out by asking a few initial questions:

  • Did you invite light, average, or heavy drinkers?
  • How many adults over the age of 21 will be drinking?
  • What is your overall party budget?
  • Will you have only beer, only wine, only spirits, or a combination of everything?
  • Will someone be bartending, or will it be self-serve?

Drinks You'll Want to Consider

It doesn’t hurt to have a variety of drinks available for your guests. Here are some tips for stocking your party bar:

  • Pick a clear, grain-based spirit like gin or vodka
  • Grab a bottle of brown liquor like bourbon, scotch, or whiskey
  • 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).
  • Feeling like extra is better? Include rum and tequila, or champagne if it’s a fancy affair.
  • Some people prefer red wines, others prefer white wines. Know your audience or just get some of each–maybe even rosé.

Go local by adding Minnesota wineries and local beer if possible. We’re lucky to have lots of great brewers in Minnesota so take advantage!

Read More: The Haskell's Essential Wine Guide

Know How Far a Bottle Goes

Does anyone really know what an actual serving of alcohol looks like? We sure do! Here’s the rundown:

  • 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.

Knowing how much you get per bottle can help you gauge how much of each you’ll need to have on hand at your party. All you have to do is finalize your guest list and then do a little math. If you end up over-purchasing, don’t fear! We'll buy back unopened bottles so you can return whatever wasn’t used…or you can keep the leftovers for yourself. No judgment here.

Drink Calculator

Hopefully, we didn’t scare you away with the "M"-word, but math is needed at this stage of the game to decide how much to buy. Here’s where you will be grateful you paid attention in math class. The unofficial rule of thumb for serving alcohol at a party is two drinks per person for the first hour of the party and then one drink per hour thereafter. Let’s break it down:
(Number of guests X 2) + (Number of guests X party hours after the first hour) = Total Drinks

Let’s try talking through it with an example. Say you want to throw a party with 25 friends that lasts about four hours.

  • First hour: 25 people x  2 drinks each = 50
  • Next 3 hours: 25 people x 3 drinks each = 75 drinks
  • Total drink count: 125
  • For your 25 friends, you’ll need enough beer, wine, and liquor to serve about 125 drinks, depending on the crowd.

Identify the Drinks

The final bit of math that you need to do is figure out how much of each category of alcohol you need. Try the 50-25-25 breakdown:

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

Continuing with our example of 25 guests and their roughly 125 drinks, that means you should plan to have:

  • Wine for about 63 drinks (13 bottles)
  • Roughly 32 bottles or cans of beer ( round that up to about three 12-packs)
  • Spirits for about 32 single-shot mixed drinks (right around 2 bottles worth of spirits)

If your event will include a champagne toast, it is worth noting that one 750ml bottle of champagne will fill 6 flutes, so take the number of guests / 6 to determine how many bottles of bubbly you’d need. In our example, you could easily make 4 bottles of sparkling wine stretch if you serve each guest slightly less than a full glass, or play it safe by getting 5 bottles.

READ MORE: Why Do We Celebrate With Champagne?

Read the Room

So, you’ve done all the math and have a more educated guess of how much alcohol you’ll need to get. Before you run to the store and start shopping, there’s one last thing to consider. You’ll probably drink a fair amount more at a bachelorette party or a night up at the cabin with your buddies than you’ll drink at lunch with your relatives from out of town, so it’s important to factor that in. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help read the room:

  • What type of party is it–one with lots of drinking expected or less?
  • What time of day is it? With the rise of parties (daytime parties), this question may not hold as much weight.
  • What is the ratio of adults to children on the guest list?
  • What ratio of guests will likely drink wine, beer, or cocktails? How many known non-drinkers will be attending your party?
  • What kind of alcohol do people like? If it's a wine crowd, do your guests like red, white, rose, or a combination?

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 so we’ve listed some ideas to get the juices flowing (pun intended). Choose what you think will best suit the mood, the time of year, and the kind of get-together you want!

  • Charcuterie party: a perfect opportunity to pair wine with yummy cheese, crackers, spreads, jams, fruits, nuts, and even chocolates
  • Halloween Party: cocktails and punch recipes, but make it spooky.
  • Super Bowl Party: beer is best
  • Brunch: go for mimosas

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.

If you're planning for a large event like a wedding, check out our guide to picking wedding wines, but here are a few great budget-friendly suggestions right off the bat: 


READ MORE: What’s the Difference Between Champagne and Prosecco?

Why Haskell’s?

If you’re still not sure what to buy, we have free wine and beer tastings at every Haskell’s location throughout the month where you can ask questions and try some varieties.   Feel like you do not want to manage the bartending process yourself? 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. Did we mention that  Haskell's also delivers? Whether you need one case of beer or twenty, we are here to help you keep the party flowing! Don’t worry about overbuying either–we’ll buy back any unopened product after the event. Lastly, when you buy for a big event as a Bacchus member, you’ll earn points and save money with special pricing!  No matter what your special event looks like, Haskell’s is here to be your “spiritual guide” for any occasion!


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