Prepping Your Bar for Your Next House Party

May 26, 2016


Even though I am not a huge drinker - one vodka tonic with a splash of cranberry will hold me 

over for a night - I know that many guests at an event or party can take their beverages very 

seriously. I find that some guests may be a little more forgiving when there is not a go to drink at 

a large event at a hotel or event center, but miss it more when it is a smaller party held at home. 

I have learned to make sure I always have in stock the tried-and-true along with a few special 



Essentials first...


Plan to serve two wines, one red and one white; gin with mixers; and vodka with mixers.


The following list outlines the basics that every prepared host should have... 


Vodka, the basis for many mixed drinks including Bloody Marys, Cosmopolitan martinis and 

the ever-popular vodka tonic. 


Gin, this grain-based alcohol flavored with juniper berries and botanicals is an aromatic mild 

flavored liqueur. A gin and tonic with a lime is a mainstay of the cocktail hour, particularly in 

the warmer weather, so no home bar should be without the fixings. Tanqueray and Hendricks are the top brands. Have a fresh bottle of tonic water on hand. 


Tequila, made from the agave plant and the national drink of Mexico, is smooth and complex. Good tequila is double-distilled and aged, and is to be sipped or mixed into a fantastic cocktail. Try 

Patron or Sauza in silver or gold or Anejo for margaritas or the Paloma. 


Rum, the sugar cane liquor, is evocative of the Caribbean. Rum Punch or the stellar Dark and 

Stormy, dark rum combined with ginger beer, is a great warm-weather drink. 


Whiskey and bourbon drinkers are a dedicated bunch. They will wholeheartedly appreciate your including a good single malt or small batch Arsenal in the bar setup. Scotch whiskey, made in Scotland and bourbon, an American-made spirit, are usually served with ice and water on the side, on the rocks or straight up. While a good bottle of whiskey can be expensive, it usually lasts a long time. 


But how much do you need?


Calculating the amount of alcohol needed for a party is more of an art than a science. It's hard to know how many people will show up and whether they'll be throwing it back or sipping it timely.


But here is some wisdom to start with...


On average I assume your guess we'll have two drinks per hour... 


10 guests x 2 drinks x 2 hours equals 40 drinks.


There are approximately 5 glasses of wine per bottle. Most mixed drinks are made with one ounce shot of liquor. A 1 liter bottle of liquor contains enough 432 mixed drinks. Mixers are usually poured in four ounce portions. One liter of mixer will make 8 drinks. 


Bar on a budget


Liquor is one of the biggest expenses of hosting a party. If you're opening on a tight budget, it's best to think about offering wine and beer only. There are many delicious inexpensive choices of both from all over the world and inexpensive liquor is a risky proposition.


A host should aim to have more than enough when it comes to beverages so limiting your offerings to quality yet inexpensive wine or beer is a good solution. One way to offer some booze without having a full bar is to choose just one mixed drink and make it the theme of the night. This is the most natural when you're working with a theme already like mint juleps for a Kentucky Derby viewing party or margaritas with Mexican snacks.





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