How much liquor should I buy?

2015 Aug

How much liquor should I buy?

by Louis Gervais / In Tips & Advice

You’ve decided to throw a party – an end of summer bash, a housewarming, your spouse’s 40th birthday or your wedding reception, and you need to stock your bar.  One of the first questions we hear is ‘How much liquor should I buy?’  Before we dive into amounts, and types, one important factor that most people overlook is that every party is different and you know your guests best. If half of your guests don’t drink, only drink wine or like to party into the wee hours then order accordingly.

You don’t have to purchase every spirit and mix available at the liquor store, but if you’re planning on offering a full bar scotch, gin, vodka, beer and wine are must haves, and rum, rye and tequila can be added if you want to expand selection. Having a beer & wine only event is also completely acceptable especially if you’re on a limited budget. If you choose to go this route select a few good craft beers – an ale and a lager for sure and an IPA in lesser amounts. For wine, two whites (one dry and the other with some fruit) and two reds (one lighter and one more full bodied) usually does the trick.

When deciding how much to purchase it’s important to take your guest’s likely consumption as well as the length of the event into consideration.  Below is a basic guideline of what to purchase for an average group.

1 Hour Reception – Aim for 2 drinks per person

4 Hour Reception or Dinner Party – Aim for 3-4 Drinks per person

6+ Hour Event or Wedding Reception – Aim for 5-6 Drinks per person

Keep in mind the following yields when calculating amounts to purchase:

Champagne- 6 drinks per 750ml bottle (4oz – 5oz champagne flutes).
Normally champagne is used for toasting so one glass per person is sufficient.

Wine –5 drinks per bottle (5oz per glass)

Spirits – allow 1.5oz per drink

Don’t forget…
The ice!  We recommend 2lbs per person for any event. This will include enough ice for chilling wine and beer if you don’t have a fridge close by.  And lastly, have enough non-alcoholic beverages on hand for those that don’t drink or if you have any children attending your party.

Special Occasion License
If you want to serve liquor in a public place or sell liquor anywhere, you will need a Special Occasion License. A Special Occasion Licence permits the host to serve or sell liquor at an event in accordance with BC’s liquor laws and regulations. If you are having the event catered by Louis Gervais Fine Foods & Catering we will apply for and obtain a special occasion liquor license and arrange for the purchase and storage of all alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

For more information about Special Occasion Licences, visit the BC Liquor Control & Licensing Branch Website.



As a full service Vancouver caterer, Louis Gervais Fine Foods & Catering can help you plan and execute every detail of your special event or wedding including purchasing and serving any alcoholic beverages. Contact one of our wedding specialists to discuss your vision and explore the possibilities.

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About author

Louis Gervais

Louis Gervais is the award winning Executive Chef of Louis Gervais Fine Foods. His dynamic personality, passion for fine cuisine, and high standards are evident in every aspect of his business. Find Louis Gervais on Google.

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