Event Tips

Planning The Perfect Bar Menu

The team here at WhenNow loves a party. We always encourage a few designated drivers, an Uber app and of course responsibility, but we do enjoy our adult beverages. In fact, if you haven’t been following us on Facebook, you should. Every Friday afternoon we post a drink recipe like this:

Cajun Lemonade Instagram

Regardless of the type of event you are planning; whether it is a cocktail party, a dinner party, a happy hour or a gala dinner dance – you never want to run out of booze. Similarly, you do not want to be stuck with an excess of leftovers.

Obviously for a more intimate gathering, you know what your friends like. There is always that one person who only drinks Jameson’s, or the wine snob that won’t drink anything but Chateuneuf de pape. For a larger event with guests you don’t know, you can count on guests consuming two drinks in the first hour of your event and one drink during each following hour.

Are you serving wine, beer and spirits? A widely accepted rule of thumb is 50 percent of your guests will prefer wine, 30 percent will prefer beer and 20 percent will prefer mixed drinks. If you are only offering beer and wine, plan on 60 percent of your guests drinking wine and 40 percent drinking beer.

If wine is the beverage of choice, typically, a 750ml bottle of wine yields six 4-ounce glasses. At a standup party, guests typically consume an average of two glasses of wine per hour. Therefore, if you expect fifteen guests for a party, you will need thirty glasses of wine, or five bottles. For a sit-down party, the ratio becomes a bottle for every two people, so a dinner-party for six people will require three bottles of wine. That said, we always recommend that you keep a spare bottle on hand.

If serving spirits at the bar, a good rule of thumb is that you will get 16 standard drinks from a 750 ml bottle. For mixed drinks, plan on three similarly sized bottles of your mixer. The most important options that will generally please everyone are: Vodka, Gin, Bourbon, Scotch and Rum. For mixers, sour mix, tonic water, club soda, Ginger Ale and Cola should have you covered enough to please everyone. Have some Cranberry Juice and Orange Juice on hand as well.

A great option that I have seen at many events is to offer beer, wine and two or three signature drinks. For example, if you are throwing a Kentucky Derby party, you may offer Mint Juleps as your signature drink. Here is the recipe from Maker’s Mark:

Mint Julep

  • 2 parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 barspoons of simple syrup
  • Sugar to taste

Gently muddle sugar and mint in a julep cut, then half fill cup with crushed ice, add 1 part Maker’s Mark and stir. Fill julep cut with crushed ice; add remaining Maker’s Mark, stir, and then finish with crushed ice. Garnish with a large mint spring and two straws sitting just above the mint.Truth be told, the signature cocktail actually attracts inquisitive people who may otherwise graviatate towards wine.

There is a wonderful top-level party planning guide provided by theepicenter.com, an online mecca for lovers of gourmet spices, here. If you are extremely organized and want to make it easy, totalwine.com offers a downloadable drink calculator. The website also offers hints and tips for hosting and preparing for a wine party, a beer party or a cocktail party, and even offers some delicious recipes.