Reception Drinks

jmcaFebruary 1, 2006

We are having an open bar at the reception and we are purchasing the alcohol and other colas, tonic water, orange juice and club soda for the bar area. We have invited 225 guest and hired three bartenders. We have purchased gin, rum, vodka, brandy, scotch (about 5 liter bottles each brand, i.e, evans and williams, barcardi, paul masson, etc). Is this enough to serve my guests or should have have at least 10 bottles each brand? I want everyone to have at least two drinks.

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Vodka will be your most popular bottles, and Scotch the least popular. I would get a few more bottles of Vodka. I well remember a neighbor who was having a big party running over to borrow some Vodka......who knew he said? People drink a lot of Vodka!
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 2:42PM
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Thanks. I am also going to get some cocktail mixers for the people who prefer cocktail drinks versus straight liquor.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 3:10PM
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Great spread---lucky guests!!!

Other juices, like cranberry or grapefruit, would be good. Other additional suggestions are maybe a whiskey, tequila, champagne, wine or beer? If you wanted variety you could add a bit of flavored schnapps, like peach, for something like fuzzy navels or amaretto. And for your cocktail mixers you could add--bloody mary mix, sour mix.

It can get as complicated or simple (and as expensive) as you choose.

A bar setup when I worked was this...

basics, at the sink--
liquors: vodka, gin, rum, whiskey/bourbon, tequila (cheap stuff).
mixers: sour mix, orange juice, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, tonic, soda water, sodas, milk, bloody mary mix.
Flavored syrups or liquors: grenadine (cherry non alcoholic syrup for drinks & non alcoholic shirley temples), amaretto, coffee liquor, etc.
Garnish: cut limes /lemons,
Ice, straws/stirrers, napkins.

behind me on the bar--
call liquors (name brands of each liquor versus the cheap bar brand, but not the most premium)
flavered liquors (amaretto, melon, coffee, irish creme, etc)
top shelf--(most $$$ brands of each liquor).

I agree that vodka is the most popular liquor--unless uncle mickey & aunt lulu are big martini (gin) drinkers (might try to ask around your family/friends to see their favs). After vodka, I say gin/rum next. Then, scotch/brandy. I served scotch only occasionally & brandy very rarely--depends on your crowd.

Your bartenders would be an excellent source of info on preferences, suggestions & quantities. Or a local bar owner, someone who runs a bartending school, or a caterer. Be sure to let them know if this is a older crowd, or a younger set. They will be able to give great advice on a basic setup for a wedding.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 5:29PM
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Sep, I love your reference to "Uncle Mickey" and "Aunt Lulu". That is too funny! I have an "Uncle Mickey" and "Aunt Lulu" that will drink anything that is put in front of them, gin, vodka, toilet water, etc!

I am worried about running out of drinks because I have a younger, cocktail type crowd and an older, straight liquor and chaser type. So I want to be prepared for anything. Oh, and thanks again for helping me with a list of chasers.

I also have whiskey (crown royal and seagrams), and champagne for the toast. I am also getting beer, Coors, Michelob, Budweiser, etc. So I think that I am covered.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 7:06PM
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sounds wonderful!

did go to a wedding a while back that gave two drink tickets, to each person entering the reception, to redeem at the bar....anything in excess of that was a cash bar.

One thing to run thru with the bartenders...
years ago (many, many as I was a bartender in college hee hee) I did a wedding prenuptial party. It was a free bar for the guests. We put up tip jars. The hosts got really, really upset. Some parties we used tip jars, with no problems.

It's no biggie whether you don't mind if they are used, or would find it tacky/offensive, but just thought that might be something to think about...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 8:36PM
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I would suggest adding wine to the list, nothing fancy but something you like in case you have leftovers ;~). One type of red, one type of white.

We run with a group that very seldom go for mixed drinks, just wine.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 5:10PM
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Etiquette generally tells you, no tip jars at a wedding or other private party.

The reception hall is considered a temporary extension of the host's home. No true host would has his/her personal guests to tip the caterer, maid, etc., in their home. The tip, if there is one, should come from the host anyway, not from the host's guests.

Be sure there's plenty interesting to drink for us folks who don't drink much at all. And my friends are like Jerri's--they'll be much more interested in the wine than in the whiskey sours or cosmopolitans.

In fact, it would be OK if you simply decided which short list of cocktails you're willing to serve, and only have stuff for that.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 11:20AM
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If I were hosting a party with an open bar, I would be really furious if the bartenders -- or the musicians, or anyone else -- put out a tip jar or otherwise tried to get money out of my guests. If I am the host, then I am paying the staff, and I will tip them -- although probably not as much if they pull a stunt like this, not to mention NEVER recommending that caterer or using them again, so they'd be pretty "penny wise and pound foolish" to let their employees put out that tip jar.

Recently I was at a party where the photographer, a new one in our community, put a few business cards down on each table after he took the table shot. I think it included some sort of message about going to his website to buy prints. Everyone at our table just laughed at the tackiness of it, and we made up our minds to believe that our hosts didn't authorize this crassness. But it wasn't just crass; it was bad business. I'm sure none of us will ever hire that photographer now.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 2:58PM
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Just a personal observation.

At my son's wedding we had an open bar. There were 120 guests, about 15 were children. The place provided two bartenders and I didn't feel that was enough. The line to the bar seemed too long. Had I realized this ahead of time, I would have hired at least one, maybe two more bartenders for the evening.

Anyone else have an opinion on this?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 8:39AM
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Thanks Dian57:
My husband and I have hired three bartenders for the reception. We don't want anyone standing in line too long. That would defeat the purpose of having an open bar. Thanks for reiterating the importance of having enough help!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 4:16PM
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