How Much Alcohol Should You Get for a Party
If you're planning a wedding party, housewarming celebration, 40th birthday party, or another significant event and are wondering "how much booze do I need for this to actually be a party?" You can use our handy party drink calculator to ensure you don't spend too much on alcohol but still have enough. You also may be looking for more information on what alcohol to buy to fill those glasses. We’re Your Beer Friend and we’ve got you covered.
Calculator for Party Drinks
A good starting point is to try and figure out how much your guests are going to be drinking. This is going to be different for every event, for the sake of simplicity I’m going to say that on average your party guests are going to be drinking one drink for every hour. One drink an hour is fairly common and should work unless you’re hosting a college fraternity event. If that’s the case, then I just wish you the best of luck.
Here is how you can calculate your party drink count:
Let's pretend you host a party for 250 guests that lasts 4 hours and we assume our guests drink 1 drink every hour on average (this usually accounts for guests who drink 2 in the first hour), which is a good rule of thumb.
So our formula would go:
250 (Guests) x 4 (Event Hours) x 1 (Drinks per Hour)
= Drinks needed for the event.
This means we need 1,000 drinks for our hypothetical guests.
Every good math text book has at least 2 examples, so here you are:
15 guests for 1 hour but they’re drinking 6 drinks every hour (we’re simulating a real rager here) NOTE: we don’t recommend consuming 6 drinks in one hour
15 guests x 1 hour x 6 drinks = 90 drinks
Let's now assume that your fully stocked bar will be serving beer, wine, soft drinks, and mixed drinks.
These assumptions will help you make your party estimates:
- Beer: Guests will consume approximately 12 oz of beer every hour during the party (and probably two in the first hour).
- Wine: A 750-milliliter wine bottle will provide about five servings.
- Cocktails: On average each drink has 1-1/2 oz of alcohol in it. One 750-milliliter bottle (a fifth) makes approximately 17 drinks. You’ll also need to prepare anything else that goes into the cocktail.
- Miscellaneous Beverages: Seltzers, Ciders, Gluten Free options, that weird bottle of mead your brother-in-law gave you that was made in his basement. Use the same rate as beer for this category.
- Non-alcoholic Beverages: Think water, soda, coffee, NA beers, etc.. We can assume that guests will drink 12oz of water every hour.
Beer: How Many Do You Need For a Party?
We start by guessing how big of a beer crowd you have. We have a feeling that if you’re reading a blog from Your Beer Friend, that your party might be heavier on the beer side compared to other beverages. I’m going to be conservative and just say that 60% of the drinks consumed are beer (gotta leave some room for a sneaky glass of wine or shot of mezcal at the bar).
Our formula here is :
Total # of drinks multiplied by our estimated % of that category.
So if we follow our number from above for 250 people. We will need 1,000 drinks in total and we’re estimating that 60% of all our beverages should be beer. That means we get this.
1,000 x .60 = 600 beers
A keg is going to be the most practical in this scenario.
Large 1/2 barrel kegs can hold 15.5 gallons or 165 12-ounce servings, so you'd need 3-4 kegs.
Wine: How Much Wine Do You Need for a Party?
Just like for beer, first we need to try and estimate what percentage we want our wine to take up of our ‘booze budget’. We’re going to say a nice 25% of our booze budget should be dedicated to wine.
So if we follow our number from above for 250 people. We will need 1000 drinks in total and we’re estimating that 60% of all our beverages should be beer. That means we get this.
1000 x .25 = 250 glasses of wine
Beer + Wine: What Should We Be buying?
Now that we know how much of each drink we need, we need to decide what type we’re getting. To do this, we have to consider two basic things.
1. When is this event taking place?
We need to be aware of the date and the time of the event. If we’re doing a spring event at noon, we don’t want to get a huge 12% imperial stout with cacao nibs, coconut, and lactose. We want to get some nice pilsners, maybe a fun gose, session ipas, nice easy drinking wine, etc.
Alternatively, if we’re up in a cabin with a group of friends, we might want to bring that 12% imperial stout and curl up next to the fire.
If you want some tips on bringing the right beverages to any party, check out our blog post here: How to Bring Craft Beer to a Party
Still need some help? Email us and we’re happy to shoot you some recommendations
- Are you doing food with the event?
A good food pairing can really make or break a beverage. If you’re serving steak and potatoes for a dinner party you might want to rethink picking up that framboise, and get a little more red wine instead (I know, we’re beer people and here I am recommending wine. But that’s what a good friend does, recommends the best tool to get the job done, even if it hurts us dearly)
Remember to mix it up as well. Not everyone loves big bitter West Coast IPAs, some might prefer something lighter. You like red wine? Your guests might like natural Orange Wine instead. If you know your audience, great. Get what they like. If you don’t, go with stuff that’s more basic and try to get a variety of options. Everyone loves options when asked what they want to drink.
Spirits: How Much Should You Bring for Mixed Drinks?
For this last category I’m going to assume that we’re making mixed drinks with these spirits and not just bringing out the old shotski (for the uninitiated think 4 shot glasses attached to a ski, so you have 4 people doing coordinated shots together).
We can calculate this last category one of two ways our old tried and true method of % of guests and total drinks, or we can just do:
Total # Drinks need - (Beers Needed + Bottles of Wine Needed) = # of Mixed Drinks
So for our example above we’re doing 1000 people, with 600 beers and 250 glasses of wine. So we get:
1000 - (600 + 250) = 150 Mixed Drinks needed
Calculating how much alcohol to purchase for this category can be more complex and depend on what types of mixed drinks are being served. Most people opt to only offer one or two signature cocktails to serve to their guests just for the sake of simplicity.
The average cocktail uses:
- 1.5 oz (the standard shot) of base liquor (i.e., Vodka, gin, rum, etc.)
- 4-6 oz of ‘mix’ (juice, soft drinks, vermouth, aperol, etc.)
For example, mojitos made with rum, lime, and club soda will require 1.5 oz rum, 1/4 oz lime, 4-6oz club soda. First, find how many ounces the bottle of rum contains, then divide that number by 1.5 to calculate how many cocktails you can make with it.
A calculation for the above would be a 750 milliliter bottle of liquor (a ‘fifth’) which equals 25.4 fl oz. That means if 1 mixed drink uses 1.5 oz we would get 16.9333 (repeating of course) mixed drinks out of it. We can round this up to 17, with someone just getting a smidge under a full drink. So for our 150 mixed drink party, we’ll need: 150 (drinks needed) / 17 (drinks per bottle) = 8.8 bottles!
Interested in converting beers to liquor? Check out our blog post: How Many Beers Equal a Shot
Everyone loves a champagne toast, right? But how much champagne will you need for a toast? A regular bottle of champagne should get you enough for about 8 - half glass pours (which should be enough for a toast).So we can create a nice little equation of X(drinkers) / 8 (number of glasses a champagne bottle should fill) = number of bottles needed. An example:
250 (Guests ) / 8 (Glasses per Bottle) = 31.25 (Bottles of Champagne)
Round that up and we’re at 32 bottles, might want to add up 1 or 2 bottles in case someone pours with a heavy hand or if you want to hit the dance floor with a full bottle afterwards.
Remember to drink water.
That’s a lot of booze and a lot of math (at least for a beer geek like me) one final thing to remember is that everyone will need wate. Make sure you have plenty! A rough estimate is that guests will consume about 12 oz of water each hour. If possible, some sort of tap system is the best approach mainly so that guests can cut back on plastic they use with bottled waters, and so you’re not left with 500 extra water bottles after the event. But if not, then I would recommend getting 1 bottle of water for every guest every hour. Simply put:
250 (Guests) * (4 (Hours of Event) * 1 (Bottles of Water per Hour)) = 1000 (Water Count)
Here's an idea: Bring our beer box to a party!