Jacquie's pro tips: How to stock an event bar

October 28, 2022Lauren Windle

There’s a reason so many events include a bar or two. Alcoholic beverages are thought to provide a social lubricant for those meeting and mixing with others to celebrate.

With that in mind, it makes sense to be sure that your bar set-up, i.e., a variety of spirits, ice, mixers, and garnishes, will go a long way to kick off your next event in the right direction.

Here’s what Jacquie Bols of Jacquie’s Gourmet Catering recommends for your event bar:

  1. Know your attendees. Young adults drink different beverages than those 45 and over. Corporate folks drink less in general than those at a private party.
  2. In general, younger crowds will drink more beer and less wine. Older crowds will drink more wine and scotch.
  3. Wedding, anniversary, retirement or corporate announcement? Make sure you have plenty of champagne on hand!
  4. The season makes a big difference in drinking habits. Think light beers, white wine, spritzers, and more gin and vodka during warmer months – especially if your event is outside. Heavier flavored beverages such as red wines, bourbons, and after dinner liquors in cooler months.
  5. Brand liquors make a statement. An upscale event demands more prestigious brands of wine, beer and liquor.

How many bars should I set up?

Since no one likes to wait in a long line for a drink, Jacquie suggests

  • For every 100 guests, allow 4 hours of open bar.
  • More than 100 guests? Add a second bar at the other end of the room. You don’t want long waits in line at one bar.
  • Make sure the traffic flow around the bar is open.

How much of what should I stock?

For every 100 people assume for Mixers & nonalcoholic beverages:

  • 36 Cokes
  • 24 diet colas
  • 12 Sprite/7-ups
  • 12 Tonics
  • 12 Ginger ales
  • 12 Club sodas
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Dry vermouth
  • Triple sec
  • Orange juice
  • Grenadine
  • Cranberry juice

Wine – 24 bottles

12 bottles or red (more during cooler months)

12 bottles of white (more during summer months)

Beer – 6 cases

4 cases of light domestic

1 case of craft domestic (more if your crowd is under 40)

1 case of imported


10 liters of vodka, 4 liters bourbon, 2 liters scotch, 4 liters of tequila, 2 liters of rum and 1 liter of gin.

Here’s to a very successful next event! Bottoms up!

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