The Basics to Stocking Your Bar

If you have been following my ezines and blogs for a little bit, you will have noticed that I like to be crazy organized at all times (A.D.D., no question). It also shouldn’t surprise you that I have subfolders for each party we do full of information that tells me exactly how much was drunk, eaten, broken, spilled, etc… By doing this, I can average out how many bottles of Ketel One were poured versus Absolut and Stockholm Krystal. The same goes for the mixers, bags of ice and the like. So, if you’d like a few helpful tips to stocking the bar for YOUR next event, read on!

Ice: Figure 2 pounds per person for serving and chilling. Get it delivered an hour or so before the party begins (at least! I don’t know about where you live but our ice vendors are notoriously “a little late”.) You want the ice in cubes or crushed, but not in liquid form so keep it out of the sun! I store the large bags in a cool place if there are not excess freezers available. If the party is outside, stack the ice together in the shade of a garage or basement, if feasible.

Wine:There are 4.5 glasses to a bottle. So, when you polish off a bottle over a long evening at home, you now know many glasses you consumed. As for the party, as long as you’re serving more than just wine, figure 2 people will drink one bottle. These days you can buy equal amounts of red as you do of white. (Adjust this suggestion accordingly depending on your menu and your guests’
tastes, if you know them.)

If you have 40 guests, I would normally purchase 15 bottles of red and 15 bottles of white. Yes, you will have left overs…Yes, I said you want to be pretty good with your purchases so you don’t have a lot of returns, however if you don’t know the preferences of the guests, it is best to still count on two people to a bottle (but you’re not sure which they’ll drink more of, red or white, thus the quantity I suggested). You can also figure that you will be able to utilize the wine left over for another event if the vendor won’t take back the extras. As always, adjust the wine selection to fit your menu. A couple of places to find that perfect bottle of wine are:wine.com, 800wine.com

Beer: Pick 1 regular and 1 light. Purchase 1 bottle of regular and 1 bottle of light beer per guest. Choose your favorite beers or choose beers that are universally popular.

Soft Drinks: We usually go with the usual cast of characters that everyone knows…Coke, Diet Coke and 7Up (or Sprite). Sometimes we will add in a cool retro Rootbeer or Orange Crush for the hip factor, but that can be rare and only when it makes sense. For a 2 liter bottle, figure 10-12 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. With the plethora of water brands on the market look over your budget and figure out if Pellegrino is in order or would it be wiser to choose a less expensive brand. Do remember that guests will eye what you serve and will make many assumptions based on the name on the bottles. (Fine to have CostCo brand in the back but probably not visible on the bar.)

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! Again, once the alcohol runs out, the party is over!

For your basic full bar, you want: vodka, gin, rum (light and/or dark), tequila,  triple sec and whiskey. (BTW, my absolute favorite vodka is Skyy. It’s not the highest end, but I don’t care, I swear that you will be hangover free even after  one too many pink cocktails.)

Mixers:  99% of the time everyone will ask for at least one of the following: Tonic, Soda, Cranberry, Orange, and Grapefruit Juice (with a fullbar). Orange juice (the good stuff, not the random challenged situations they offer) is another big mixer, but it isn’t cheap. Some lower end brands don’t taste great, so, I don’t include it with the bar unless my budget allows for it.

Garnish:Limes, Lemons, Olives, Onions (with a full bar). But then also take into consideration what you’re serving. If you’re pouring Cosmopolitans, why not float a few frozen cranberries? LOVE, love, love the rimming sugars.

Notes!: It’s really important to realize that there is no sure fire 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’ or clients’ preferences. If you know you’ve got a heavy drinking crowd who loves martinis, stock up on some extra vodka, olives and lime juice. 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!

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