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6.6 drinks per guest sound okay?

Working on getting alcohol planned out. We are doing a self-service beer, wine, and cider bar, no bartender. The beer and cider will be bottled and set up in a canoe with dry ice and regular ice for chilling. For wine we are doing a boxed wine hack: cut open bag and pour into serving dispenser, serve in 6 or 8 oz plastic tumblers. The dispensers we are buying have the little ice bucket built in at the bottom which will keep the white wine chilled. (I think we are going with these: http://www.smartyhadaparty.com/3-Gallon-Sculptured-Plastic-Beverage-Dispenser-i10445.aspx.) 

We are purchasing from Total Wine & More because we have heard their return policy is generous in terms of unopened items.

  • Wine - 3 boxes each red and white, this is about $80 (don't have the details as I hate wine and my mom looked up this one) and is 144 "pours"
  • Cider - 6 twelve packs Woodchuck, 6 twelve-packs Angry Orchard, this is $192 for 144 bottles
  • Beer - 5 cases Bell's Two Hearted, 10 twelve packs Guinness Draught, this is $340 for 240 bottles
  • Total - 528 drinks, at 80 guests that's 6.6 drinks per person, for $612 plus tax

I'm not a big drinker so this is a bit out of my league (although I plan to indulge in a couple of Woodchucks!) but any thoughts on this setup? Our venue is rural, so folks will be driving themselves and I'm assuming will self-regulate accordingly, as opposed to a hotel or shuttle setup where they can drink freely.
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Re: 6.6 drinks per guest sound okay?

  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
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    Does your venue / county have any regulations regarding self-serving of alcohol?
    MesmrEwe
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    Can't edit, but wanted to add that I read an APW guide once that said to do 2 drinks per guest per hour, that would be about 8-10 drinks including cocktail hour and depending on how long people stay. Water, tea, and lemonade will be available all night too.
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  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    Does your venue / county have any regulations regarding self-serving of alcohol?
    I'll have to look for any county-specific regulations; the venue is my mom's house so no probs there. I think the state of VA provides a one-day "banquet" license for special events we could look into.
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  • You may already have this planned out, but how will you be keeping guests safe from dry ice? Will it be in the canoe where loose children (if there are any present) can touch it?
    spockforprezMesmrEwepoodledoodleooo
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    You may already have this planned out, but how will you be keeping guests safe from dry ice? Will it be in the canoe where loose children (if there are any present) can touch it?
    Excellent question. From what I understand, it works like this: The container > dry ice in bottom of container > cover with regular ice > put in drinks > cover with some more ice. Basically the dry ice is there to keep the regular ice frozen; it cuts down on buying a ton of bags of regular ice and dealing with a lot of meltage. 

    This was suggested by our coordinator, who is the catering and events manager for a local restaurant and has done dozens of weddings, so I'm pretty confident in the process. But, if it doesn't work out, regular ice it is!
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    JediElizabeth
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    @holyguacamole79 and @JediElizabeth, did you guys want to weigh in on the # of drinks per guest? 
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  • @holyguacamole79 and @JediElizabeth, did you guys want to weigh in on the # of drinks per guest? 

    I don't honestly know that one - usually a few handles of hard liquor and some 6 packs work for my parties. ;) I only piped up because I had a friend with a dry ice injury at work once, and I always think it's a good idea to make sure people plan.
    spockforprez
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    @holyguacamole79 and @JediElizabeth, did you guys want to weigh in on the # of drinks per guest? 
    I don't honestly know that one - usually a few handles of hard liquor and some 6 packs work for my parties. ;) I only piped up because I had a friend with a dry ice injury at work once, and I always think it's a good idea to make sure people plan.
    That would be awful :( It really was a great question and I will look up dry ice safety to make sure we handle it appropriately. That's why I like TK - everything comes back around to guests' comfort and happiness and, in this case, safety!
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    JediElizabeth
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
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    edited November 2015
    It really depends on your crowd and the size of the people attending.  My family are big drinkers and big guys so that would last us an hour LOL.  

    Things I would consider:

    What is the ratio of beer to wine drinkers?  Your 144 wine pour count is based on a 5 oz pour.  If you're using 8 oz tumblers, expect about a 7 oz pour, or 102 drinks.

    Who is likely to drink wine and who will drink beer; you have more servings of beer and if you're in 50% wine company that won't be enough.

    Your beer options are very dynamic in taste:  very sweet, very hoppy or very heavy; and there isn't a go in between.  IME even the bud drinkers will start with a fancy beer or two if they don't have to pay for it, but it's nice to have something lighter and more neutral to mix in.

    ETF math
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    spockforprez
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    It really depends on your crowd and the size of the people attending.  My family are big drinkers and big guys so that would last us an hour LOL.  

    Things I would consider:

    What is the ratio of beer to wine drinkers?  Your 144 wine pour count is based on a 5 oz pour.  If you're using 8 oz tumblers, expect about a 7 oz pour, or 102 drinks.

    Who is likely to drink wine and who will drink beer; you have more servings of beer and if you're in 50% wine company that won't be enough.

    Your beer options are very dynamic in taste:  very sweet, very hoppy or very heavy; and there isn't a go in between.  IME even the bud drinkers will start with a fancy beer or two if they don't have to pay for it, but it's nice to have something lighter and more neutral to mix in.

    ETF math
    Thank you for all the feedback! I fully admit I'm a bit in over my head. (My original number-out-of-my-ass budget for alcohol was $300.) I'll refer your concerns about drinkability of the beer to my FH (the craft beer lover) but it's an excellent point. Would there be a crowd-pleaser that wouldn't offend my FH's snobby taste that you would recommend?

    I wanted to skip wine altogether but my aunts drink it - there's only 5 of them LOL but, since we're having it, I would say maybe 30-35 out of 80 will drink wine. We'll go with the 6 oz tumblers to make the servings 5 oz. And with the box wine being so cheap we could definitely purchase more. I will check Total's return policy; or we could just gift the extra to the wine-drinkers, if we have any.
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  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    I hope your guests don't drink 6 drinks per hour, @kimmiinthemitten! Or maybe that's normal and I'm totally out of touch with the boozing population. (Which, that last part is definitely accurate.)
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  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    I think we could go up to $800 or a bit over if needed; catering has ended up being cheaper than we originally budgeted for.
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  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
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    I hope your guests don't drink 6 drinks per hour, @kimmiinthemitten! Or maybe that's normal and I'm totally out of touch with the boozing population. (Which, that last part is definitely accurate.)
    I have an abnormal boozing population, but not quite 6 an hour!  I got a fantastic deal on my bar package.  I warned them and asked all sorts of questions, like how many drinks per person per hour is this based on, what happens if we run out, etc?  The venue manager told me he keeps 3 cases of vodka in storage.  One of my cousins said:  3 cases?  I guess we can shoot for that.  In all fairness, I have 17 male cousins, and I think the average male is about 6'4" 250-275 lbs. We killed 2 kegs at the last wedding.

    If FH doesn't want a basic beer like Bud or Miller, I'd go with a locally brewed Pale Ale.  I love Two Hearted, for example, and I can hold my own throughout an evening, but 4 pints of those (since they have a higher alcohol percentage) and I'm fairly gone LOL.  
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  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    edited November 2015
    How about Yuengling, @kimmiinthemitten? How does that fit in, palate-wise? We could do six cases of that for another $100 to bring it to 8.4 drinks per person. 

    PS - thank you :) 
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  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
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    How about Yuengling, @kimmiinthemitten? How does that fit in, palate-wise? We could do six cases of that for another $100 to bring it to 8.4 drinks per person. 

    PS - thank you :) 
    Yuengling is a good solution!  And you're welcome:).
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    spockforprez
  • How about Yuengling, @kimmiinthemitten? How does that fit in, palate-wise? We could do six cases of that for another $100 to bring it to 8.4 drinks per person. 

    PS - thank you :) 

    I just wanted to show up late to this party and applaud this decision, both to add a more mainstream option and to bump up the drink-per-guest count. If you can afford to possibly overspend to avoid worrying about having too little, I think that's a great idea since everything's returnable.
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    spockforprezwink0erincupcait927
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
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    I dunno if you want my feedback .... I just had ~4 glasses of wine with my dad and DH (with dinner) and I'm feeling goooooooooooooooooood.
    spockforprezkimmiinthemittenTheDeathLlama
  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
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    I'm not much help on your original question, OP, but if they have a generous return policy, and you can swing it financially, I'd buy more and return it. It's super hard to know who will drink which type of drink. Or if your wine drinkers will predominantly drink white or red that night. Beer drinkers might not like one of your other options and might not want to switch when something runs out.

    However, I URGE you to reconsider your self-serve bar. It's a HUGE liability for the host. God forbid someone drinks to much and gets into an accident and/or kills someone, the homeowner will VERY likely be sued and so will the host. It's just not worth it. We hired a licensed and insured bartender for $250 for the night in a HCOL area. There is no way in Hell I'd take on the risk and liability you would be taking on by not having a professional bartender. 
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    I dunno if you want my feedback .... I just had ~4 glasses of wine with my dad and DH (with dinner) and I'm feeling goooooooooooooooooood.
    On the contrary, that's very helpful information! ;) 

    I assume there will be several people like me, who will drink 3-4 beers for the night. And there may be others who drink 10 or 12. 
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  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    lc07 said:
    I'm not much help on your original question, OP, but if they have a generous return policy, and you can swing it financially, I'd buy more and return it. It's super hard to know who will drink which type of drink. Or if your wine drinkers will predominantly drink white or red that night. Beer drinkers might not like one of your other options and might not want to switch when something runs out.

    However, I URGE you to reconsider your self-serve bar. It's a HUGE liability for the host. God forbid someone drinks to much and gets into an accident and/or kills someone, the homeowner will VERY likely be sued and so will the host. It's just not worth it. We hired a licensed and insured bartender for $250 for the night in a HCOL area. There is no way in Hell I'd take on the risk and liability you would be taking on by not having a professional bartender. 
    Thanks, that's a great point. We are purchasing event insurance through my mom's homeowner insurance; would that cover things like this? 
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  • If the return policy is good I would buy WAY more. Possibly because my final shuttle back to hotels was 2 hours late (so people were drinking for an additional 2 hours) but my Dad owns a liquor store, knew a majority of guests were big drinkers and planned for it... still ran out of one of the flavored vodkas. Also you may know your guests only dirnk a glass of wine when they go out to dinner... but many people drink more when their celebrating, want to dance, don't have to pay for it etc.


  • labrolabro Hotlanta member
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    So question - does everyone just get additional insurance/ a bartender/whatever every single time they have a party and have people over at their house drinking? I'm not trying to discourage planning for the worst here....but obviously you take a risk any time someone comes to your house and drinks, and later drives home.

    With that said, I do think hiring a bartender would be helpful just for the sake of having someone keeping the beer and wine stocked so you or your family don't have to keep an eye on it and worry about supply levels throughout the night.

    Anyway, on to actual feedback - I'd try to break up the variety more in the beer like others have suggested. I don't consider Guinness to be super mainstream (unless it's St. Patrick's Day ;) ) and I'd definitely go lighter on it. As a guest - I'd rather see a split between a lager (consider Sam Adams as an alternative to Yuengling), the Bell's Two Hearted, and I guess the Guinness (although I truly don't know many people who favor dark beers like Guinness as a beer they regularly drink).

    Total Wine has an EXCELLENT drink calculator for a party on their website. You can select # of guests, how heavy you think people will drink, # of hours for your event, and then choose between beer and wine or beer, wine, and hard liquor. Either way, I'd still over buy if you can afford to since you'll be able to return the unopened packages.



    wink0erin
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    lnixon8 said:
    If the return policy is good I would buy WAY more. Possibly because my final shuttle back to hotels was 2 hours late (so people were drinking for an additional 2 hours) but my Dad owns a liquor store, knew a majority of guests were big drinkers and planned for it... still ran out of one of the flavored vodkas. Also you may know your guests only dirnk a glass of wine when they go out to dinner... but many people drink more when their celebrating, want to dance, don't have to pay for it etc.
    Well, we aren't having much dancing, though I don't think that will stop people from getting drunk if they want to! I guess my thought is, we are inviting mostly adults, no one of college age, almost all are married with kids. NOT that I think married adults in their 30's with kids don't enjoy drinking or getting drunk, ha! But I would imagine that for people in that category, one partner would be DD, or that they'd moderate themselves knowing it's not a hotel wedding or a shuttle-type wedding and they'll have to drive. That's what I would do. 

    I'll see if I can move some money around to buy more. We are under budget on both rentals and catering at the moment (although haven't made final decisions about cocktail hour food), some of which I was planning to use for my new dress and alterations (first dress didn't work out). I think we can probably work it out, though.
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  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    labro said:
    So question - does everyone just get additional insurance/ a bartender/whatever every single time they have a party and have people over at their house drinking? I'm not trying to discourage planning for the worst here....but obviously you take a risk any time someone comes to your house and drinks, and later drives home.

    With that said, I do think hiring a bartender would be helpful just for the sake of having someone keeping the beer and wine stocked so you or your family don't have to keep an eye on it and worry about supply levels throughout the night.

    Anyway, on to actual feedback - I'd try to break up the variety more in the beer like others have suggested. I don't consider Guinness to be super mainstream (unless it's St. Patrick's Day ;) ) and I'd definitely go lighter on it. As a guest - I'd rather see a split between a lager (consider Sam Adams as an alternative to Yuengling), the Bell's Two Hearted, and I guess the Guinness (although I truly don't know many people who favor dark beers like Guinness as a beer they regularly drink).

    Total Wine has an EXCELLENT drink calculator for a party on their website. You can select # of guests, how heavy you think people will drink, # of hours for your event, and then choose between beer and wine or beer, wine, and hard liquor. Either way, I'd still over buy if you can afford to since you'll be able to return the unopened packages.
    Thanks so much!!! I appreciate all the suggestions. I kind of feel the same way about the whole party thing, but I really do see the point that's being made and I would hate for my wedding to be the one event where something awful happened. We are purchasing event insurance anyway because it's cheap, so we can see if it includes any kind of alcohol liability coverage.

    Our coordinator (who's more of a logistics person and a DOC rather than a wedding planner in the traditional sense) and her daughter will be managing the buffet and bar. (They are friends of the family, but wouldn't have been invited to the wedding. They are catering and event managers for a local restaurant, my mom works a few events a year with them, and we are paying them in the same range I was quoted for DOC.) Actually, I might have found a super great catering quote that includes setup and cleanup, so they might not be doing that, but JESUS the point of this long paragraph is that we definitely have someone to restock and keep an eye on things.

    I hate to make my FH sound like a SS, but he's incredibly snobby about beer. HE DOESN'T CARE!!! IT'S HIS VISION!!!! Jk, lol, but I see what you're saying. If we cut back on the Guinness by a 12-pack or two, we could replace it with more Yuengling or another mainstreamy beer option that wouldn't offend him too much.

    I didn't see that calculator on the Total website, but I am heading there now! Thanks so much!
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  • labro said:

    So question - does everyone just get additional insurance/ a bartender/whatever every single time they have a party and have people over at their house drinking? I'm not trying to discourage planning for the worst here....but obviously you take a risk any time someone comes to your house and drinks, and later drives home.


    With that said, I do think hiring a bartender would be helpful just for the sake of having someone keeping the beer and wine stocked so you or your family don't have to keep an eye on it and worry about supply levels throughout the night.

    Anyway, on to actual feedback - I'd try to break up the variety more in the beer like others have suggested. I don't consider Guinness to be super mainstream (unless it's St. Patrick's Day ;) ) and I'd definitely go lighter on it. As a guest - I'd rather see a split between a lager (consider Sam Adams as an alternative to Yuengling), the Bell's Two Hearted, and I guess the Guinness (although I truly don't know many people who favor dark beers like Guinness as a beer they regularly drink).

    Total Wine has an EXCELLENT drink calculator for a party on their website. You can select # of guests, how heavy you think people will drink, # of hours for your event, and then choose between beer and wine or beer, wine, and hard liquor. Either way, I'd still over buy if you can afford to since you'll be able to return the unopened packages.
    Personally, I tend to invite people to sleep over when I get them drunk. But usually I can't fit more than 20 people in my home, including the hosts, and I know a couple of people don't drink, or use public transit or whatever.

    It's a matter of scale. When you're talking about 50-250+ people, some of whom you don't see or drink with often, or even know personally, it's much harder to take care of everyone. I would want to hire a bartender anytime I'm offering an open bar to that many people.
    lc07lyndausvi
  • PP's seem to have it covered. I agree you should have another option like Yuengling, maybe cut back on the Guinness  for something else (unless you know your guests are huge Guinness fans). Other options could be Sam Adams or Magic Hat #9. And I also agree on buying more if the return policy is good.

    ******************************************************

    spockforprez
  • julieanne912julieanne912 member
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    edited November 2015
    OK on the wine, I'd consider doing bottles instead of boxed wine.  That way, you can return any bottles you don't use.  Once you open those boxes, you're stuck with it, and will likely throw some of it out.  Plus, dumping wine in a big dispenser could change it's flavor, and not always for the better.  ETA: You could get wine that has a screw top lid so you're not having to fuss with corkscrews and corks.

    Also, for the wine, consider the weather and the food you're serving.  If it's going to be warm, people will drink more white (which should be kept cold, so another reason the dispenser idea may not work if you're serving white).  If it's cooler and you're serving heavier food, red will probably go faster.  

    You can get a perfectly good wine for under $10/bottle.  It won't be as cheap as the boxed wine, but it'll be a hell of a lot better to drink.  I did a Mark West Pinot Noir that was $9.99/bottle, and Stellina di Notte Pinot Grigio for $7.99/bottle.  Most places will discount if you buy a case of 12 as well, and then you can just return what you don't use.  

    I did a case of each, and ended up with 3 bottles of each left over.  We had 130 guests, 2 kegs and 3 liquor types with mixers, so less wine was consumed than if we just had beer/wine.  

    Reminds me, on the kegs, we had Bud Light and Fat Tire.  The Bud Light was almost entirely consumed (but that's our crowd), and the Fat Tire was only about 1/4 of the way down in the keg.  I think something like Guinness is super heavy, and may not go over as well as some of your lighter options.... unless your goal is to have them not drink as much.

    Also, HIGHLY suggest hiring a bartender.  I was so glad I did because they took care of everything, and helped with cleanup as well.  
    Married 9.12.15
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    JediElizabethwink0erin
  • lovegood90lovegood90 Ontario member
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    Why aren't you hiring a bartender??

    Formerly martha1818

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    holyguacamole79
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
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    Does your venue / county have any regulations regarding self-serving of alcohol?
    I'll have to look for any county-specific regulations; the venue is my mom's house so no probs there. I think the state of VA provides a one-day "banquet" license for special events we could look into.
    There still may be problems with it being at your mom's house.  If someone over-indulges and is in an accident,  your mom may somehow be held liable (I think).  Definitely research this and make sure you CYA.
    MesmrEwe
  • spockforprezspockforprez Virginia member
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    Why aren't you hiring a bartender??

    I don't really understand this question. We had planned to have it set up as self-service, as described in my OP. I didn't really see the need for one. Plenty of people host parties without bartenders. We are definitely looking into the need for a license or liability insurance (we already planned to get event insurance). 
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