Costmenu Blog Post

Setting up the perfect bar for an event: Part 3 of 5 - The Alcohol Choices

The right alcohol choices for an event

Part 3 of 5 of the series explaining how to set up the perfect bar for an event. Here we get into the basics of what alcohols to consider when setting up your bar. As we noted prior - the bar really dictates the tempo and enjoyment of the event. With that in mind it is critical to have the drink orders simple, consistent, and moving fast. Links to the first two articles can be found at the end of this blog. Below are some key tips when setting up your bar for maximum success.

As we noted in the prior article: Setting up the perfect bar for an event: Part 2 of 5 - Audit Your Event Prior, it is critical that you audit your event prior to making alcohol purchase decisions. Every event has its own theme, and those themes needs to be taken into consideration. The below information is to help with a basic understanding of what to anticipate when setting up a perfect bar!

Limit your bar to the 4 main types of alcohol

Let's be honest there are four (4) basic type of booze ordered most often and those are: Vodka, Bourbon/Whiskey, Tequila, and Gin. Obviously there are many other types that can be requested, but remember this is not a full bar set up, but instead an 'event bar'. You can do a lot with these 4 basics alcohols. As you can see on the spread sheet we offer, we breakdown the requests by gender and how often these types are requested. All of these ratios are subject to the points noted above (type of event, time, location etc.) but these are good ratios when considering your audience. Also remember that as the night progresses, orders to change to more hard alcohol. Stiffer drinks are requested which often convert into shots - typically whiskey or tequila. Stay away from 'specialty ' alcohols. Sometimes people will think it would be nice to offer cognacs or Jagermeister or other specific or unique types of booze, but if you are hosting for a broad spectrum of people these specialty alcohols will not be used the way you think, so it best to not offer them or just have a single bottle at most.

Try to only offer 7 different labels of Alcohol

Taking into account the suggestion above of 4 types of alcohol of Vodka, Bourbons, Tequila, and Gin, it is best to limit the actual 'labels ' of those alcohols to a maximum of 7 different labels. Remember this is an event bar not a fully stocked option bar.

Vodka - limit it to one type only. Candidly most vodka is consumed with mixers like cranberry, oj, soda or something. Crowd favorites ebb over time but Tito 's, Kettle One and Sky are usually requested most often. A decent vodka like those named can be used for martinis (straight) and for mixed drinks. More younger drinkers are doing Vodka shots now too (the quick version of a Martini). Avoid the flavored vodkas. Bartenders can make citrus vodkas by just adding a squeeze of lime/lemon to regular vodka.

Bourbons or Whiskey/Whisky [Whisky (no e) refers to Scottish, Canadian, or Japanese grain spirits. Whiskey (with an e) refers to grain spirits distilled in Ireland and the United States] here we would suggest 2 label types and maybe a third. We definitely suggest two types because you typically have two types of bourbon drinkers. 'Neat Drinkers' who like it straight on the rocks or some version of a splash of water. Those drinkers tend to like the 'higher-end labels ' with a higher proof content. Suggestions would be Woodford, Bulliet, High West, Makers Mark or equivalent. These have a smooth taste that can be consumed straight comfortably. The second type of bourbon drinkers are mixed drink consumers. They prefer their bourbon mixed with Coke, 7-Up, or soda water. Because it is being mixed, a 'lower-end ' label bourbon can be used such as Jack Daniels, Jim Bean, or equivalent. Where it gets a little 'foggy ' as to whether you need a third option is in the event you want to include a Scotch. Scotch drinkers tend to be both neat and mixed drinkers. This would include Jameson, Johnnie Walker, Dewars, or J&B type labels. More often than not, you can stick to the two types of bourbon, but a third bourbon is the flex option.

Tequila - surprising it mimics bourbon with its different types of tequila drinkers so plan on at least two types of tequila. As a result of the different types of tequila drinkers, there tends to be more of them now than in the past. Long gone are the days of gagging down a Jose Cuervo Gold shot thinking that was the only tequila available (though Jose Cuervo does make nice high-end product such as Familia). Now there are some high-end options that are just as tasty as bourbon. As a result, there are 'neat tequila drinkers ' who like it straight, chilled or on ice, or still in shot glasses. Thus having a higher end tequila is must. Suggestions would include Casamigos, Patron, Don Julio, or other labels. In addition there are the mixed tequila drinkers who like it with soda water, grapefruit juice, 7-Up, OJ and other variations and combinations. Mixed tequila drinkers can live with lower end tequilas such as Hornitos, Cuervo, Sauza or other labels. Obviously margarita options can be available assuming margaritas on ice with a very simple margarita mix being available. Plus a good bartender can 'create a margarita mix ' using lime juice, 7-Up and splash of OJ. Do NOT offer blended drinks of any kind - especially margaritas. Candidly you will be surprised that the margarita options are usually short lived, meaning the margarita mix demands are not that great in the event you offer them.

Gin - there are typically very few gin drinkers, but they are ALWAYS represent in some form or another. That is why Ryan Reynold made over $600 million selling his Aviation Gin company. That said you should always have at least one option of Gin available. You will not need many bottles of it, but it will be requested so have at least one label of it available such as Aviation, Bombay, Hendrix, or Sapphire. Plus gin can be used in some fun mixed drinks like Long Island Ice Teas and other things.

Finally, you can always have room for that one special label drink based on the event. As noted throughout the articles, every event is likely to have a theme based on the reason of the even, location, average age, and other influences. That said, it is often fun to have one specialty alcohol available based on that. These often times can include a cognac, or a special shot or drink based on the event. More often than not these 'special drinks ' are usually enjoyed only once by attendees on average and then most revert to their 'standard drinks ' using the above alcohols as the base for reference.

What Quantities of Alcohol Should I Get For My Event?

Now this is the key question for purchasing. To make is simple we offer a free download of a spreadsheet via Google Sheets that can help you determine roughly what you should purchase. The information on the spreadsheet is based on our experience from hosting events and the above information. It offers and easy way to calculate the amounts of each alcohol to purchase. It 's up to you what labels to get. You can download the spreadsheet here at this link, and feel free to use it as you like. Remember that Costmenu does offer more information on their system to help with the decisions and track your success rate in the case you are an event planner. Please try out the application on a 14-day free trial basis by clicking here.

Additional Information and References for an Event or Catered Bar

Remember to also check out all of the articles related to this blog:

About Costmenu:

Costmenu is a food/menu/recipe costing software that offer many advantages over excel spreadsheets and other inventory management programs. Costmenu integrates a powerful dashboard, food, prepared, and menu item costing features, menu building features, custom qr code label makers, document storage, event/catering management features, data security, performance measurement, data analysis and comparisons, CRM, and generation of various reports. For more information on Costmenu, visit, email, or phone (949) 274-4814.