Stocking Your Bar

One of the most important parts of a good party is the alcohol. It’s such a bummer when your drink of choice runs out or you begin making another cocktail only to find that there are no more ice or mixers left. It’s definitely best to over-buy when it comes to the booze than risk running dry. So how much is enough?

As a general rule of thumb:

  1. Each guest will drink 2 drinks in the first hour and 1 drink per hour thereafter
  2. A 1-liter bottle of liquor will result in ~22 mixed drinks
  3. A 750-ml bottle of wine/champagne yields 6 glasses
  4. If you are mixing beer, wine, and cocktails, estimate about 1 bottle of wine per 8 guests, and 2 beers per person, knowing that not everyone will drink them
  5. Plan on 1/2 lime, 1/2 lemon, and 2 cherries per guest

Now onto types of drinks. First of all, you should know what type of guests are coming to your party. Are they mostly beer drinkers? Will only drink the bubbly? Must match their cocktail to their outfit? Knowing this ahead of time can help shape the bar menu.

Second, do you want to have your guests prepare the drinks themselves or will you have a signature pre-made cocktail? Having a signature drink can alleviate the need for a bartender at your event or allowing your guests full access to your bar. It takes the guess work out of cocktail-making and can also coordinate with the theme of your party (if you have one). Here are a few drink ideas to have at your party:

  • Simple Syrup – this is often the base for cocktails and can be infused with any number of ingredients to add tons of flavor to your drinks
  • Moscow Mule – this vodka based cocktail is light and refreshing with a hint of lime and backdrop of ginger beer. Super fun if you can serve it in a copper mug!

  • Manhattan – this whiskey-based cocktail (Numero Uno’s drink of choice) can be served straight up or on the rocks and gets garnished with a cherry. Get fancy and use luxardo cherries for a decadent finish!

  • Hot to Trot – I am partial to tequila myself, and if I’m not drinking it on the rocks with club soda, I like to keep it nice and refreshing. This cocktail gets its spice from jalapenos and a coolness from cucumber!

  • Thyme Lemonade – Gin-based and summery as hell. This drink starts with a thyme-infused simple syrup that gives the whole cocktail and deliciously deep flavor.

  • Sangria – My favorite sangria recipe is from Jose Andres’ tapas restaurant, Jaleo. The cinnamon gives this drink a warm feeling that leaves you wanting more!

If you do choose to go with the full bar option, which is what I tend to prefer, you must make sure you have plenty of mixers. Overestimate here. You can buy them in 1-liter bottles so that the unused bottles remained unopened and can be used at a later date. If you want to help your guests along, a fun way to guide your guests is to make a few drink recipes and print them onto cards to leave at the bar area. Your guests can follow the directions on the cards to make themselves a delicious drink!

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Always stock enough ice – estimate about 1.5 pounds per person
  • Remember to have a bottle opener for any beer or mixers that require it
  • Have a shot glass handy to help when pouring liquor. This keeps cocktails at the appropriate strength even as the hour gets late!
  • Provide swizzle sticks/long spoon and/or a drink shaker to facilitate the mixing of drinks (instead of forcing guests to use their finger … you know you’ve done it!)
  • Overestimate the amount of alcohol per person (unless you know you have guests who will not imbibe). Your party may end up going longer than you planned, people may drink more, and guests may not finish every drink that they pour. Alcohol lasts for a while, so extras will not go to waste!

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