Did You Know: How Much Alcohol to Buy for a Party

This is a question I think we've all asked ourselves at one point.  How much alcohol DO you buy for a party?  We asked Fortique event planner Kiah to break it down for us... 

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"Kiah Leigh of Style Studies DC here, offering you some tips combining two of my favorite things: alcohol at parties.  Calculating the amount of liquor you need for an event can be a daunting task, and there is no error-proof way to do it.  There are some conventional formulas, however, to calculate about how much you need.  I like to call this "liquor math".  You will need to use a little bit of basic algebra, but you’ll be solving for booze instead of x, so it’s infinitely more fun.

The average partygoer consumes 2 drinks in the first hour, and 1 each hour after, so your equation is:

b  = 2g  + g(h-1)


g = guests

h = hours of event

b = number of drinks

 Painless right?  Plus you can say you finally used algebra for something fun.  Now you need to know how many bottles you’ll need.  This math is even easier.

  • Liquor bottles pour 16 drinks
  • Wine bottles fill 5 glasses
  • Champagne bottles fill 6 flutes
  • A half barrel keg makes about 200 servings, and a quarter barrel, half that
  • 1 liter of mixer for every 3 guests

Okay, now your thinking great, “How do I know who’ll drink what?”  Here comes the tricky part; it really depends on the event.  Day parties tend to need more beer, wine, and champagne punch than liquor, whereas evening events lend themselves to liquor.  The age of guests also matters.  If your audience is under 35, stock up on more rum, vodka, and beer.  Head swirling yet?  Liquor math starting to seem a lot like calculus?  Need a drink just to deal with calculating the number you’ll need?  Don’t worry, I have a few tips, but you can still have that drink.

  • Don’t let your guests decide!  Have a couple signature drinks.  Most guests will drink them instead of their usual choice for their first couple drinks
  • Know your audience.  If you are hosting a party for friends, think about what they usually drink at other parties or ask the last host what went fastest
  • Have no idea what people will want to drink?  Just divide the number of drinks evenly across wine, liquor, and beer
  • Always buy extra.  There is nothing worse than walking up to a bar and being told they are out of liquor.  You could have had dancing lobsters and unicorn rides, but if the liquor runs out, that is all anyone will remember.  If you buy in large enough quantities some liquor stores will allow you to return unopened bottles
  • Have enough ice!  Not everyone likes their scotch neat.  Have about 1 and a half pounds of ice per person



Need help with your next event?  Her experience launching Style Studies DC makes Kiah the perfect fit to help with launch parties, fashion events, and other corporate gatherings.  Reach out to Kiah here!

- Steph, Kiah, & The Fortique Team