Ah, if only I had a nickel for every time I have been asked this question, I would be a kazillionaire! Here are some GUIDELINES about stocking the bar for you party. The quantities given are based on our experience. Your experience might be completely different, but at least we’ll be heading you in the right direction!
Ice: Figure 2 pounds per person for serving and chilling.
Wine: There are 4.5 glasses to a bottle. As long as you’re serving more than just wine, figure 2 people to a bottle. These days you can buy equal amounts of red as you do of white. So, if you have 40 guests, I would purchase 20 bottles of red and 20 bottles of white. Yes, you will probably have some left over. Adjust wine selection to fit your menu.
A couple of places to find that perfect bottle of wine are:
Beer: Pick 1 regular and 1 light. Purchase 1 bottle of regular and 1 bottle of light beer per guest.
Soft Drinks: We usually go with Coke, Diet Coke and 7Up (or Sprite). For a 2 liter bottle, figure 10 people/bottle. This guestimate assumes that your cups are not 20 ouncers and that you’re serving other beverages than just these. If you are only serving these three soft drinks, increase your quantities.
Bottled Water: Pick 1 bubbly and 1 flat. It’s good just to have some on hand in case your guest doesn’t want alcohol or a soft drink.
Liquor: Plan on getting 15 drinks from a 750ml bottle. These portions are generous but the last thing you want to have to do is run to the supermarket in the middle of your party! For your basic full bar, you want: vodka, gin, rum (light and/or dark), tequila, triple sec and whiskey. (BTW, our absolute favorite vodka is Stockholm Kristall. I also swear that you will be hangover free even after one too many Skyy Vodka cocktails.)
Mixers: Tonic, Soda, Cranberry, Orange, and Grapefruit Juice (with a full bar).
Garnish: Limes, Lemons, Olives, Onions (with a full bar).
Notes!: It’s really important to realize that there is no surefire way to stock your bar. You’ve also got to take into consideration how warm or cold it is outside (if you’re having an afternoon party in the summer, up your ice quantity.) Don’t forget to factor in your menu (if you’ll be eating steak, ease up on your white wine quantity). Figure in your friends’ preferences. If you know you’ve got a heavy drinking crowd who loves martinis, stock up on some extra vodka. Finally, remember that the best training of all is experience. Even if you over or under buy this time around, you’ll make up for it with increased knowledge at the next event. Cheers!