It's every host's worst nightmare — running out of something, not having enough. How do you know how much wine, beer and spirits to buy for your holiday events? Here's your cheat sheet!
The First 15 Minutes:
Statistics have shown that the first drink is consumed within the first 15 minutes of any event, meal or party. Consumption slows down after that, but as a host you need to be aware that beverage duty should be your No.1 priority at the start of your event. If your focus needs to be on the food, designate a "bartender."
Number of Drinks in a Bottle:
Most mixed drinks incorporate 1.5 ounces of spirit into the glass. This translates into 16 mixed drinks per 750 ml (25.4 ounce) bottle. A liter (33.8 oz) will give you 22 drinks, a 1.75 ml bottle (59.2 oz) will give you 39.
Most wine glasses hold a 5-ounce pour. This translates into five glasses of wine per 750 ml bottle, 10 per magnum or 1.5 L bottle.
Obviously, most beer brands come in single-serving cans or bottles. But if you opt to buy your beer in quarter- or half-keg amounts, the number of 12 ounce beers per are 80 and 160, respectively.
Number of Drinks to Plan:
After that first drink, your guests will drink 1.5 drinks per hour on average in a cocktail party setting. With dinner or a late afternoon meal, they will drink two beverages at table and one drink every hour after that.
As always, there is a golden rule: The better the food, the more people will eat, the better the beverage, the more people will drink.
It is always a good rule of thumb to have an emergency holiday beverage stash on hand in case your event turns into the party of the century and no one wants to leave. At that point, you should collect keys and make sure that no one does.
Keeping It All Cold:
Try not to give your whites, rosés and sparkling wines a fast chill in the freezer. (Most hosts forget them; the wines freeze and the bottles explode.) Place your chillable wines in the refrigerator at least two hours in advance of your party.
Ice works well for a fast 20-minute drop in temperature if water and a handful of rock salt is added to the bucket. In a cooler filled with ice (and no water or salt), the bottles/cans will take closer to 45 minutes to get cold.
Put box wine in the refrigerator the day before your event. And always, always make sure your sparkling wines are thoroughly chilled before popping the cork. If they are not, the cork will exit in a rush of foam and you will lose a considerable amount of wine.
Last but not least: Locate your corkscrew before you need to use it. Slice your limes and lemons. Get your glassware out and at the ready. And do all this before the doorbell rings. This way, you get to enjoy the party too!