Post # 1
I am working with a caterer who will hire bar tenders to serve the alcohol I buy beforehand. This is way more cost effective than a full open bar. She provides the mixers (like Coke, soda water, tonic, etc.), and will use the alcohol I buy. Anything that is not used that hasn’t been chilled can be returned to the liquor store (they’re great for allowing this policy!).
I have a few questions.
1) What do people think of two “signature cocktails” at a reception with a mix of beer and wine? Should I also offer plain liquor drinks like scotch and soda, just in case not everyone there wants a mojito or a tequila sunrise? (I’m actually thinking about making some lavender infused syrup to give to the bartenders to serve alcoholic and non alcoholic lavender lemonade. Fun, huh?)
2) How much alcohol should I buy for an estimated 90-person reception? How many types of beer, and how many types of wine?
3) Would people be put out that it’s not a true “open bar”? My instincts tell me that as long as there’s some variety, and it’s free, folks will be just fine with it.
Post # 2
This calculator might help you have some estimate on how much to buy, since it’s going to vary depending on the length of the reception and the make-up of your guest list (adults, children, heavy drinkers, tee-totalers, etc.).
I’ll just say, from my experience, people had no problem with a limited open bar at our wedding. We actually only offered wine and beer (there was no liquor available, not even for cash – we had guests who I knew would get crazy with shots, and just didn’t want it to be an option), and I heard no complaints. People had a lot of fun, and we got a lot of compliments on having kegs of specialty beer available – I think you might get the same response from having your signature drinks in addition to beer and wine.
Maybe, if you want to limit the drinks available, choose signature drinks that vary (different liquors, sweet/not sweet) – or have your signature drinks plus a variety of other liquors on hand (more bottles of popular liquors, like vodka and rum, only one of types you think might be appreciated but used less, like scotch or amaretto).
Post # 3
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
We had a similar setup for our wedding. We had just beer and wine, not even any signature drinks because it was too much of a hassle at the last minute, and it was fine! Our crowd are mostly beer and wine drinkers anyway though. We had 4 types of beer, including microbrews and 1 light domestic, and 4 types of wine, two white and two red.
As for amounts, what we did was use a few online calculators (I know Evite had a good one). Then also just go through your whole guest list and add up how much you think each person would drink, assuming you know them that well. Remember that receptions often go from 5 or 6 to 11 or later, so that’s a lot of drinking time. Average all those calculations together, then add another 20% just in case, especially since you can return leftovers. Running out of alcohol was basically my worst nightmare!
Post # 5
We did beer (a big mix, Coors Light, Yeungling, Great Lakes etc) and wine (red, white, blush) and signature drinks (Old Fashioned, Vodka Lemonade and Hurricane). It worked great. There was something for everyone and it was much easier and cheaper than a full open bar.
Post # 6
I would decide what to offer based on your guests. Are they bigger wine and beer drinkers, or are they hard liquor drinkers? At our reception, we had red and white wine, local beer, and then gin and whisky. We also had grapefruit soda and then regular sodas, oh and tonic for gin and tonic. We based those choices on what we know our guests like to drink. To determine how much, you can use a calculator like the one above. Are you allowed to take home the extra alcohol?
Post # 7
1) I think signature cocktails are stupid, a product of the wedding industrial complex, and often undrinkable to boot. Skip them.
2) beer and wine only is fine with me. If you insist on expanding drink options try a clear liquor (gin or vodka) and a dark one (Whiskey or rum) and mixers such as tonic, sodas, lime. Those are easy.
There are calculators for determining quanity, and besides, your caterer should guide you in that.
Post # 8
I think it’s nice to have the basics- vodka, gin, bourbon, scotch, rum – because a lot of people prefer these drinks with just soda/seltzer/tonic/water/ice to “signature drinks” which always have a lot of extra sugar.
Post # 9
My bartending set up is going to be the same way. I’m hiring a bartender service, and purchasing the alcohol myself. The only difference is my venue doesnt allow liquor, just beer, wine and champagne only. 🙂
Post # 10
Signature drinks are unlikely to appeal to a mass audience.
I would buy wine, beer, rum, whiskey, gin, vodka and then have the drinks made to order with the mixes provided by the caterer. Liquor is not often chilled, so anything left over can be easily returned.
Beer and wine alone is also fine.