As a wedding planner for over a decade, I am a walking, talking alcohol calculator. You could use the fill-in-the-blank planner on the internet, or you can follow along below for the best calculation you’ll find – one that considers things such as the season, alcohol preferences of the crowd, how many kinds of alcohol you offer and more.
You’re hosting a wedding or a barbecue or a bachelorette party or a holiday party.
“How much alcohol” is usually a BIG QUESTION.
I’ve been using this same calculation for over 100 weddings, bridal showers, my parties, graduation parties, and even my Tuesday night neighborhood get-togethers. This alcohol calculation always works like a charm.
Let’s Start by Calculate the Total Number of Drinks Likely to be Consumed.
How many hours are you hosting? I plan for one drink per person per hour for the average gathering. With that, you know your guests and the type of gathering you are hosting. If you have a lot of hefty drinkers, you might want to up this to 1.5 or 2 drinks per person per hour. Calculate accordingly.
Here are some statistics when it comes to alcohol at gatherings. Generally speaking, wine, beer, and spirits are consumed in the following ratios.
There was one, and only one time, this ratio failed me. I went up to check on the bartenders half-way through a wedding and found out we were entirely out of the high-end vodka, the father of the bride requested. It turns out that he has a tradition of buying his friends this very specific martini to celebrate just about anything. Had I known this, I would have bought an extra case of this vodka.
You know your people. Take the preferences they typically have into account.
Friends, follow all the steps for a personalized alcohol calculator.
This calculation below has told me exactly how much alcohol for a wedding more times than I probably even counted.
Number of Guests
x hours of the event
x 1 drink per hour (adjust accordingly)
= total number of drinks
That is honestly it, friends. I know what you are thinking — “My friends drink WAY more than one drink an hour.” You might be right. In which case, adjust accordingly. However, after many, many tests of this calculation, I find that this simple equation works. Some people drink more, and some will drink very little (if at all), and the average for most parties works out to about one drink per person per hour.
NOW that you have the # of drinks needed let’s talk about ratios
Multiply the total number of drinks by the following ratios::
Just Beer and Wine — 25% Beer & 75% wine
Beer, Wine, and Spirits — 50% Wine, 20% Beer, and 30% liquor
**Special note about cocktails — Be sure to look at the cocktail recipe and multiply by the number of drinks you will need (1 per person, 2 per person) to ensure you have the correct amount of all ingredients. If you are mixing specific cocktails, you will surely have some leftover alcohol. **
If you plan to offer a variety of spirit options, you are going to have to overbuy and will likely have the right amount of leftover. A great way to simplify is to pre-mix one cocktail that covers 30% of your guests. When it is gone, beer and wine will still be left.
“Alex, this is so much math. I still have no idea how much I need to buy.”
Let’s Cover Some Basic Serving Sizes
How many glasses are in a bottle of wine?
A bottle of champagne fills six to eight glasses.
A bottle of wine fills five glasses.
How many oz/drinks does one bottle of liquor make?
Roughly 25 oz
Standard Drink is 1.5 oz of alcohol
Therefore, there are approximately 18 drinks in a bottle
How many bottles in a case of wine or beer?
A case of wine contains 12 bottles.
A case of beer contains 24 bottles or cans.
Here’s An Example of the alcohol calculator
Let’s say you are having ten people over, and you guess they will be over for 5 hours.
That is 50 drinks.
Beer, Wine, and Spirits mean you will have::
25 Servings of Wine/5 glasses per bottle = 5 Bottles
20 Servings of Beer = 1 case of 24 or 3-4 six-packs for variety
30 Servings of Spirits = 2 bottles of liquor to make one signature cocktail
Other considerations to personalize this alcohol calculator::
Consider the Season — White versus red versus rosé
Consider the Occasion — Sparkling or a cocktail to start?
Consider the Crowd — Beer versus wine drinkers (and those elusive creatures that can drink spirits all night)
Consider the Menu — I am not someone that has a vast knowledge of wine, but I do try to pay some attention to what I am serving. There are so many fantastic resources online that will guide you to an excellent wine for a spicy Thai dinner versus a pot roast supper. Another option is to seek out a local wine store and simply ask.
Let’s Talk a Little bit more about including spirits/liquor.
Let me start by saying — I don’t think that you need to have a fully stocked bar. It is entirely acceptable to just offer beer and wine, in my opinion. Some would even say you can only offer wine, but I live with a serious beer drinker, so in this household, we offer both.
We have slowly built up a stocked bar and keep an assortment of wine, beer, cider, and spirits always at our fingertips. Whether it is taking a bottle to girls night, snagging something tasty as a hostess gift, or the ability to open whatever strikes our fancy when we have friends — I like options and lots of them.
But it’s a wedding – This calculation can’t be all I need to figure out how much alcohol I need?
Friends, this is the exact calculation I have used for dinner parties, bachelorette weekends, summer BBQs, and 100s of weddings. It will work correctly.