12 Apr 2016
How much booze should you buy for a party?

We’ve all been there: in a moment of generosity (or madness!) you’ve invited a bunch of friends to a catered birthday/engagement/farewell party, but you have no idea how much booze to buy. Now before you back track and try repackage the event as a bring-and-braai, read on.

We’re going to teach you a fairly fool proof way to ensure the liquor is flowing and a good time is had by all.

Step 1

Firstly, when deciding how much booze to buy, get those RSVPs so you know the numbers you’re dealing with. How many people are coming exactly? And are any of them pregnant, on the wagon or outright teetotallers? Minus these from your total (but remember to have non-alcoholic beverages on hand).

Step 2

Decide how long you want the party to go on for. Generally, guests will have two drinks in the first hour, then a drink an hour after that. Of course you’ll have heavier drinkers, but you’ll have lighter ones too, so it should balance out. Your drinks total will therefore be as follows:

Guests x (hours + 1) = total drinks

So, if you’re expecting 40 guests, and are aiming for a four-hour party, your calculation would be as follows:

40 guests x (4 hours + 1) = 200 drinks

Tip: Don’t forget to count yourself in this equation!

Step 3

What drinks will you serve? This may be occasion dependant – think bubbly for your 25th anniversary but Cosmos for a divorce party – or you might want general crowd pleasers like beer, wine and whisky. If the latter, keep it simple and split your drinks total equally among the types you’ll be serving.

Step 4

Buckle in and do the maths, using these amounts per bottle:

Bubbly = 6 flutes
Wine = 5 glasses
Liquor = 30 shots
For mixers, get 2 litres for each bottle of liquor.
Beer and coolers are easy, as one can or bottle is one drink.

So, if we pick up on our above example of 200 drinks, we could do the following (rounding up):

Bubbly only = 200 ÷ 6 = 34 bottles


Wine, beer and whisky = 200 ÷ 3 = 67 of each
So, wine = 67 ÷ 5 = 14 bottles
Beer = 67 cans
Whisky = 67 ÷ 30 = 34 bottles
Soda = 2 x 3 = 6 litres

Tip: Don’t forget to buy ice! 

Note, it’s always worth getting a bit extra of everything to ensure you don’t run out. Most big bottle stores (like Tops at Spar) will refund you for unopened bottles, provided you keep the slip. And some (like Aroma Drop Inn) offer party services such as delivery and glass rentals. Call your local liquor store to find out.

Tip: Punch is a festive, fun option for parties. Check out these great recipes:

Campari and orange punch

Rooibos tea punch

Fruity sparkling wine punch

Fruit punch with ale

This post first appeared on Food24 on 12 April 2016.

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