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By Block Ice | January 26, 2023

Opening your ice cooler mid-party only to discover that your beer supply has run dry can ruin the mood. Learn how to calculate how much alcohol and ice you’ll need for your party ahead of time so you don’t have to ask your buddy to run up to 7-Eleven at the last minute.

How Much Alcohol Do You Need for a Party?

Calculating the correct number of drinks to serve can be one of the trickier parts of party planning. Fortunately, some simple math can help you figure out what beverages you’ll need to stock your fridge.

First, you need to know three things:

  • Decide if you’ll be serving beer, wine, cocktails, or some combination of the three.
  • How many hours will your party last?
  • How many guests will be drinking alcohol? It’s also helpful to consider whether you expect your guests to be light, moderate, or heavy drinkers.

Once you know how many guests will be drinking and for how many hours, you can calculate the number of drinks you’ll need. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect people to drink more in the first hour or so of the party and then taper off towards the end.

You can calculate your drink needs by planning on people having two drinks in the first hour and then one each hour after that. This equation will get you started.

Number of Guests X (Number of Hours + 1) = Number of Alcoholic Drinks Needed

For example, a party of 15 people lasting 4 hours would be 15 Guests x (4 Hours +1), or 75 drinks. You can adjust this number from here if you think your guests will drink a bit more or less than average.

Now that you have your total amount of drinks needed, you can divide it to decide how much beer, wine, and liquor you’ll need. Bevmo recommends assuming that:

  • 50% of your guests will have wine
  • 20% will have beer
  • 30% will have spirits or cocktails

(If you know your friends tend to like wine or that you have more cocktail enthusiasts in the crowd, you can adjust this as needed.)

So for our example party of 15 people above, we would want 75 drinks available, with 50% wine, 20% beer, and 30% cocktails. That breaks out to 37 and a half glasses of wine, 15 beers, and 22 and a half cocktails.

When stocking up, note that:

  • A bottle or can of beer is one serving
  • A 750 ml bottle of wine holds 5 servings
  • A 750 ml bottle of liquor will make about 16 drinks

If you’re in doubt about how many bottles of a drink you’ll need, it’s better to round up. So for our example party, if we want to have 22 servings of liquor on hand, we’ll need 2 bottles of our spirit of choice. If we want to have 37.5 glasses of wine ready, we’ll need 8 bottles.

Pro Tip: When choosing which cocktails you’ll serve, choose a couple of signature drinks. It’s easier and more affordable to have just two types of cocktails on hand, as opposed to trying to offer a lengthy drink menu. Shoot for one drink with dark liquor and one with light liquor. For example, you might offer Manhattans and Palomas, or Whiskey Smash and Margaritas.

A Note on Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Offering non-alcoholic options for guests who don’t drink or want to stay hydrated is a nice touch. The equation you’ll use for this is the same for alcoholic drinks. You can use the same math we used to estimate how many alcoholic drinks are needed for a party to determine how many non-alcoholic drinks to have on hand. You’ll calculate:

Number of Guests x (Number of Hours + 1) = Number of Non-Alcoholic Drinks Needed

Then you can stock your cooler with the appropriate amount of soda, water, or other booze-free options.

How Much Ice Do You Need for a Party?

Once you’ve got an idea of how many drinks you’ll have for your party, you’ll need a way to keep them cool! When planning how much ice you’ll have on hand, you can assume you’ll need roughly a pound of ice per person if you’re using it to serve drinks and keep them cool.

However, if you’re looking to elevate your ice game, consider picking up some elegant craft ice for serving your drinks and save the cloudy cubes for your cooler. Clear Block Ice melts slower, keeping your drink cold without diluting the flavor.

Stock up on craft ice cubes equal to the number of cocktails you’re serving. For example, for our four-hour party with 15 guests, we’re anticipating 22-23 cocktails, so we would want to have craft ice cubes on hand for each drink.

The type of ice you’ll need will depend on the type of drink. Opt for the Average Block for cocktails with a single ice cube (like an Old Fashioned) or the Trophy for drinks with a spear (like a Tom Collins.) For drinks like a Mint Julep that would have crushed ice, a bag of Chip off the Block will do the trick.

For an extra touch, we can work with you to freeze eye-catching embellishments into the ice or stamp a company logo or other symbol into the cubes for a personal touch.

Let’s elevate your next gathering to the next level. Opt for stunning crystal clear cubes that will have your guests talking with Block Ice. Place your order now.