How to Calculate the Right Amount of Alcohol

Various bottles of alcohol chilled in buckets of ice.
How do you calculate beer and wine amounts for a three-hour reception for 150 people? Most will be light drinkers but a few will probably drink more. I can’t find any clear answers on this issue! We’re just serving beer and wine and non-alcoholic drinks.- Christen

Dear Kristen,

First, let’s go over a few general guidelines. As a rule, most people will consume one alcoholic drink per hour, as that is the rate the body metabolizes alcohol. So, for example, a guest may have one glass of wine during cocktails, one during dinner and one during dancing. Similarly, a beer drinker will consume approximately three beers over three hours with most guests, on average, consuming about five drinks at an evening wedding event.

Other factors that affect type and amounts of beverage consumption are:
Time of Day: People drink less alcohol during daytime events and more at evening ones.
Time of Year: Are you trying to warm them up or cool them off?
Type of Crowd: Younger groups drink more than older ones.

Now, a bottle of wine will fill approximately five glasses and are sold in cases of 12 bottles; a case of beer, however, is usually 24 bottles or cans. Many liquor stores allow you to return unopened beverages, which means you can purchase more than necessary and take back what is not used.

For your event then, I would suggest the following (erring on the generous side):
Three cases of white wine + two cases of red wine + five cases of beer + one case of champagne (for the toast) = a total of 485 alcoholic beverages.

Add in a few non-alcoholic alternatives, there should be ample libations for all.

Keep in mind though you know your event and guest list best so you’ll need to adjust these general rules accordingly.

 

Photo Credit: Jamie Bodo Photography

 

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William Being an event planner isn’t what William does, it’s what he is. That’s why he tirelessly challenges himself to top the last thing he just did. It’s why he frequently travels the country, and the world to stay on the cutting edge of fashion, food, art, design, and innovative décor.

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