How to stock the Perfect Party Bar!

You’re throwing a party.   A ton of guests have RSVP’d.  Now what?  How do you know how much to have on hand – alcohol wise?  What’s the right ratio?  We struggle with this on a daily basis here at Calihan Catering.  While we have the luxury of having a delivery department that will ferry over extra of any of our in stock items, we like to send what we need and not too much more. 

Here are some suggestions to get you started & keep you from running out mid – event.

There are a ton of factors that affect consumption rates.  What time of year is it (people drink more white wine in the summer / red wine in the winter)?  What are you serving?  What does your “posse” like to drink?  What’s on trend?  What quality alcohol did you buy?

 The Rules:

Wine – You get 60 “pours” or servings per 12 bottle case (5 oz portion)            

Champagne – You get 75 “pours” or servings per 12 bottle case(3 & 1/3 oz portion)

Alcohol – We’ve done the math on Liters (22 “shots” or 33 oz)


Dinner Party Quantity Suggestions:

2 glasses of white wine per person

1.5 glasses of red wine per person

1 beer per person

3 bottles of Vodka per every 50 people

1-2 bottles of Rum, Gin, Scotch, Whisky or Bourbon per every 50 people

2 bottles Tequila per every 50 people (and have a mixer for this – margaritas / pomelos, etc.)


Mixers Per 50 people:

12 cans of coke / diet coke

6 cans of sprite / ginger ale

2-4 L bottles of soda or sparkling water

2-4 L of tonic water

1 bottle of sweet & dry vermouth

100 lbs of ice

other mixers as desire

Here are additional "words of wisdom" 

If you want to keep your party classy, I would suggest discouraging shots.  We don’t serve them (Illinois liquor law for caterers doesn’t allow them), and they have a way of inviting vomit, drama & an untimely end to the evening.

If you’re hosting a cocktail event, you can probably decrease the wine format – or if it’s a quicky 2 hour event or if you want to run out and have people depart!

While you don’t always have to serve a full bar, it can be fun to have beer / wine & a specialty drink that compliments the cuisine that you are serving.  It can be a fun punch that you mix up before hand, or a fun mixed drink. 

If you’re doing a make it yourself bar, make sure that you clearly label the cocktail fixings, and have a recipe on hand for the cocktail in case you aren’t around to help make it.  Better yet, hire a bartender and have them deal with the details!