How to Calculate Liquor and Supply Needs for Your Event

By Ray Foley

Say you’re throwing a party and don’t know how much is enough for the number of guests you’ve invited. Here are all the answers you’ll need when it comes to stocking up on liquor and supplies for a get-together.

How much liquor should you buy?

Here are some quick tips on the amount of liquor you should buy for the number of guests at your party. The left column lists the products, and the remaining columns list the number of bottles of that product you should purchase, depending on how many guests you’re having. The last row of the table lists the total costs.

Product (750 ml Bottles) 10–30 Guests 30–40 Guests 40–60 Guests 60–100 Guests
White wine, domestic 5 5 6 8
White wine, imported 2 2 2 3
Red wine, domestic 1 2 3 3
Red wine, imported 1 1 2 2
Blush wine 1 2 2 2
Champagne, domestic 2 3 4 4
Champagne, imported 2 2 2 2
Vermouth, extra dry 1 1 2 2
Vermouth, red 1 1 1 1
Vodka 3 3 3 4
Rum 2 2 2 2
Gin 1 2 2 3
Scotch 1 2 2 3
Whiskey, American or Canadian 1 1 2 2
Bourbon 1 1 1 1
Irish whiskey 1 1 1 2
Tequila 2 2 2 3
Brandy/cognac 1 2 2 3
Aperitifs (your choice) 1 1 2 2
Cordials (your choice) 3 3 3 3
Beer (12 oz. bottles) 48 72 72 96
Total cost $500–$600 $600–$650 $650–$725 $725–$800

With the exception of beer and wine, the table is based on 1-3/4 oz. of liquor per drink. Cost totals are in U.S. dollars.

The size of a crowd isn’t the only factor to consider when buying liquor:

  • The number of products you purchase varies depending on the age of the crowd. If people between the ages of 21 and 35 dominate a crowd, increase the amount of vodka, rum, tequila, and beer by one half.

  • You should also think about the time of year. In the fall and winter, serve less beer. In the spring and summer, serve more beer, vodka, gin, and tequila.

  • Geographical location is also an important consideration when it comes to selecting your liquor stock for your guests. Consult a local bartender or liquor clerk to find out what the most popular products are in your area.

How many supplies should you buy?

Your bar needs more than just liquor. The total costs (in U.S. dollars) are listed in the bottom row.

Product 10–30 Guests 30–40 Guests 40–60 Guests 60–100 Guests
Soda (2-liter bottles)
Club soda/seltzer water 3 3 4 5
Ginger ale 2 2 2 3
Cola 3 3 3 4
Diet cola 3 3 3 4
Lemon-Lime soda 2 3 3 4
Tonic water 2 2 3 3
Juices (quarts)
Tomato 2 2 3 3
Grapefruit 2 2 3 3
Orange 2 2 3 3
Cranberry 2 2 3 3
Miscellaneous Items
Ice (trays) 10 15 20 30
Napkins (dozen) 4 4 6 8
Stirrers (1,000/box) 1 1 1 1
Angostura bitters (bottles) 1 1 1 2
Cream of coconut (cans) 1 2 2 2
Grenadine (bottles) 1 1 1 2
Energy drink 6 6 12 12
Horseradish (small jars) 1 1 1 2
Lime juice (bottles) 1 1 1 2
Lemons 3 4 5 6
Limes 2 3 3 4
Maraschino cherries (jars) 1 1 1 1
Olives (jars) 1 1 1 1
Oranges 1 2 2 3
Milk (quarts) 1 1 1 2
Mineral water (1-liter bottles) 2 3 4 5
Superfine sugar (boxes) 1 1 1 1
Tabasco sauce (bottles) 1 1 1 1
Worcestershire sauce (bottles) 1 1 1 1
Total cost $60–80 $80–100 $100–120 $120–140