Event Beverages planning

Event Planning  

How much beverage do you need?

Event planning for the  amount of beverages required is generally a dilemma for whoever is organising the function! How much beer do I need to get….and what mix of beers? How much wine….how much red…and do I need/ should I get both sauvignon blanc and chardonnay??? What about water….and soft drinks?

Of course there is no perfect formula when doing your event planning, but hopefully this will at least provide you with some guide lines.

This is based on levels used for full commercial corporate hospitality where people are invited to a function at which all the beverage is provided and paid for – as such these guidelines should be a maximum amount for your event planning!

If your function is in a venue where the caterer or the venue provide the beverage, then generally you will be charged on “consumption” (ie how much is drunk) or you may have the option of taking a beverage package covering the duration of your function eg three, four or five hours. If this is the case you don’t need to worry about quantities, just choose from the beverages they have on their beverage list!

If you have the choice of being charged on consumption or taking a package, my advice is to firstly look at the prices of the beers and wines – if you feel that they are reasonable and you don’t believe that your guests or clients will drink excessively(!), go for consumption, as the caterer or venue will have ensured that they are “covered” when calculating the price for a beverage package!

On the other hand, if you’re not sure, a package does enable you to budget accurately

Ordering Guidelines (for approx 4-5 hours)


Simple rule is to order two thirds of a bottle of wine per person.

So if the function is for 100, get approx 66 bottles of wine, maybe rounded up to 72 ( six cases of wine)

Generally a safe mix has a red, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay – the red could be a cabernet merlot blend or if you prefer and have the budget, a pinot noir.

  • A pinot gris could be substituted for one of the whites
  • Safe ordering could be two cases of each of the three wines
  • If the function is more of a celebration, you might also want to serve champagne/ methode – this can either be used as a welcome drink or served throughout the function

Again, as a guideline,18 bottles should be sufficient as not all guests will want bubbles but some will appreciate a second glass!

If you do decide to serve bubbles, reduce the whites accordingly – maybe 18 bottles of the two whites and the bubbles? Yes this will slightly increase your overall order by six bottles but as you should be able to purchase on a “sale or return” basis, you won’t loose out and all bases should be covered!


For corporate hospitality, we generally work to five or six beers per person – once again not everyone will drink beer but some will certainly exceed this amount over three or four hours

A lager, a draught and a light beer is generally sufficient to satisfy most beer drinker’s palate – our experience is that around 75-80% of the beer consumed will be lager, especially if it’s a premium lager such as Steinlager Pure or Heineken, 5% light and the balance draught. This will vary based on the guests attending so a guideline for your 100 guest function could be:

  • 600 beers in total ordered (50 doz)
  • 35 doz lager
  • 12 doz draught
  • 3 doz  light

Soft drinks

It’s really important to be socially responsible and provide non-alcoholic options for people to drink.

A simple range could be:

  • Water, still or sparkling or tap
  • Orange juice
  • Coke and lemonade

Quantities - this is not high cost and even if over ordered will be eventually consumed.

Just ensure that you have lots of non- alcoholic drinks available

To conclude

Have fun organising your upcoming function and hopefully these guidelines will assist you but please remember the following:

  • If you are providing the beverages, get them on a “sale/return” basis – nearly all beverage outlets will do this but you will need to look after the unused stock ie it will need to be returned in the same condition that you purchased it
  • Keeping drinks cold- either frig space if there is enough or hire a frig or hire a large drum and ice. If you use a drum with ice remember to keep labels out of the ice if you are on “sale or return”!
  • Glasses – ensure that you have lots of glasses, as people do tend to leave their glasses around and then can’t find them, and also could change their drinks in the course of the function
  • Do you have corkscrews/ wine knives and bottle openers?
  • Keep some of the wine and beer boxes/ cartons for returns
  • Ensure that you have lots of soft drinks and carafes for tap water or orange juice
  • This article was written by
    Ian Fraser of Hospitality Solutions Ltd

    Ian Fraser has worked in corporate hospitality and
    event management for over sixteen years. In this
    time, he has organised over 800 functions and
    events and project directed some very large
    hospitality projects/ events.
    In recent years, he has also been approached by
    organisations to assist them in a consultancy role.


    Ian Fraser

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