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Ask A Pro: How Much Alcohol Should I Order for a Special Event?

No one wants to run out of wine, beer or spirits when they are planning any sort of event. I run a lot of events for Bishop’s Cellar and this is one of the most common questions our customers ask me!

A few things to consider:

What sort of event are you planning: is it a long, leisurely dinner party where people will indulge? Or, is a short afternoon bridal shower with Grandma? The estimated length of an event is very important.

Think about your attendees: are they generally light drinkers, heavy drinkers or somewhere in between? 

How many people do you expect to attend? Think about maximum numbers who could show up so you’re prepared either way.

Alcohol Math: 

First off, this is something our staff in store can always help you figure out. Also, there are lots of event-friendly alcohol calculators available on the internet and they can be really helpful. That said, a lot of folks tell me that they want to understand how to estimate and plan for events themselves. In those cases, here’s what I tell them:

I suggest that hosts anticipate 1-2 drinks per average drinker, per hour. Know that people may drink more or faster when they first arrive, but it will usually even out over the course of the event. Add about 25% more servings if you hang out with heavier drinkers, it’s a drinking-focused event, it’s a really hot day, or you’re serving super spicy food.

Finally, I’m a planner so I always add about 25% more alcohol than I think will be needed so the event is covered either way. 

Here’s how many servings you’ll get in an average bottle or can:

Wine: One standard (750ml) bottle of wine has 5 regular servings in it.

Beer, Cider and Ready-to-Drink (RTD): Estimate one regular can or bottle per serving.

Spirits: One standard bottle (750ml) has 15 servings if you’re making standard cocktails. 

The math: Multiply your number of guests by servings required (per person) for the event. Divide that number by how many servings in the bottle or cans of alcohol you’re serving. Add about 25% more to the order just in case. 

Finally, don’t forget to have non-alcoholic options readily available! People have lots of different reasons for avoiding alcohol and great hosting means your guests won’t feel like they are an inconvenience if they aren’t consuming alcohol. Full disclosure:  I love wine and beer a lot, but sometimes I’m the designated driver or I just don’t feel like drinking alcohol that day.I always appreciate when there are non-alcoholic options available.


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