How To Set Up A Bar For A Party

Milena Kukurekovic


A bar at your party

A bar is a big component of your party. If you’re not sure how much your guests will drink, it’s hard to calculate your bar budget. One way to estimate this is to figure a rough average of drinks per person. This is based on the length of time of your function. A good guide is the following: First hour: 2-3 drinks (1 or 2 of which might be a cocktail; the last might be a glass of beer or wine) Second hour: 1-2 drinks (usually a glass beer or wine) Third Hour: 1 drink (usually a glass beer or wine) Fourth hour: 1 drink (usually a glass beer or wine) Some people will only have a drink or two and go on to soft drinks, and others will have cocktails all night. When you have no idea what to calculate for this part of your overall budget, this is a good benchmark. For example, if you are having a 3-hour open-bar using a hotel as your venue, an average cocktail may be $10.00 each, a glass of beer or wine is $6.00 each, and soft drinks are $3.00 each. This would calculate as follows: First Hour: $10.00 + $10.00 + $6.00 Second Hour: $6.00 Third Hour: $6.00 Total: $38.00 per person, plus tax and gratuity. If you need to reduce your budget, you could offer only beer, wine and soft drinks and save $8.00 per person (using the above example). Another option is to buy a bar package. Unless you know you have heavy drinkers though, this is usually not to your advantage financially. Buying your bar “based on consumption” is generally less expensive at the end of the day, unless you are getting a really great deal or the price per drink is exceptionally high. Another option is to offer one cocktail (or a glass of champagne) as guests arrive, and offer wine when seated at dinner. Buying wine by the bottle will help you economize: Figure on one bottle for every two guests. Preselecting a red and a white wine that will be served will give your guests a better quality wine than if you just choose a house wine, and keep your budget intact!

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