Where’s the Bar? Tips on How Much to Serve

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I deem food and drink a very important aspect of an event. Some guests care about the floral arrangements, some care about decor, but all will care about the food and drink. Having the proper amount of food and beverage is important for two reasons:

1) You don’t want to run out. (Boo! Hiss!)

2) You don’t want to buy too much and go over budget and have it go to waste.

So how much is just right? Below are some helpful tips and formulas to help you calculate how much coffee or alcohol to serve.Know How Much Alcohol and Coffee to Serve with These Tips and Formulas| preperie.com

Coffee, Tea, and Soda

  • Morning:                     65% hot     /   35% cold
  • Afternoon:                  35% hot    /   65% cold
  • Regular vs. Decaf:     60% Reg.   /   40% Decaf
  • For both morning or afternoon, have 10-15% tea and 25% soda
  • 20 Cups = 1 Gallon 

Using the formulas above, let’s say you have 50 guests for a morning brunch with coffee, tea, and lemonade. This is what you would serve:

  • 50 x 65% hot x 60% regular = 19.5 cups or 1 gallon of regular coffee.
  • 50 x 15% tea = 7.5 cups or half a gallon of tea
  • 50 x 35% cold = 17.5 cups or 1 gallon of lemonade


  • Estimate 1-2.5 drinks per person per hour at a hosted bar    OR
  • Estimate 2 drinks per person for the first hour and 1 drink per person for each following hour
  • 4-5 glasses = 1 Bottle (750 mL) depending on who’s pouring 🙂
  • Red Wine versus White Wine
    • 1 glass of red per 2 glasses of white
    • If no red meat:  1 bottle of red per 2 bottles of white
    • If serving red meat: 2 bottles of red per 1 bottle of white
  • Staffing
    • 1 bartender per 75-100 guests (if all arriving at once, plan on 1 per 75)
    • 1 cocktail server per 50 guests

Now that I’ve given you some of our secret formulas, it’s imperative that I point out: No two events are the same and you can’t plan an event on numbers alone.  It’s even more important to consider your specific event as this will influence the numbers above.  For example:. Do your guests  like to party or are they more conservative?  Is the event casual with a lot of time for mingling or is there a more scheduled order of events that allow for fewer opportunities for them to visit the bar? Have they not seen each other for a while and will they subsequently need time to visit with each
other longer rather than return to the bar?  Will they be thirsty because your event is outside in the middle of summer or is the room particularly cold?

These are important questions to ask so you know if you need to adjust your baseline.

Now you can rest easy knowing the bar will be we stocked. Let me know in the comments what other issues you consider when planning your beverages or what questions you encounter.


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