How to order drinks for a party (Party planning guide)

How to choose a drink strategy for your event. The first important question is what type of drinks plan you will go for. Is it a summer outdoor event? An intimate, relaxed evening in? A full party with loads of alcohol and a festive vibe?

People would likely appreciate different types of drinks for each of these, and those are the options we are presenting to you here!

We also have a post about Food Serving to help you serve and cater food at your next party, with suggestions, popular choices, quantities and prep tips, that you might love to check out too.

Different types of drinks for events

1. Beer draughts and fruity pitchers

    Here, you can order beer draught barrels and have a proper craft beer pour, which makes the taste and luxury feel extra special for keen beer drinkers. For a summery outdoor tethering where there will be a lot of beer drunk, and people will appreciate a great quality blend, this is a great option.

    Alongside this, you can prepare fruity alcoholic and non-alcoholic pitchers, such as Pimms, Aperol, sangria (alcoholic options), and

    2. Bottles beers/wines and soft drinks

      Here, you can service pre-bottled wines, beers and soft drinks, making the service and quantity counting very straightforward and simple. It also reduces the glassware needed. All you have to worry about is ice!

      3. A full bar (DIY/ DIY servers)

        For a big party, wedding, or might energy celebration with music and dancing, it would be more common to offer a full bar. This would include wines, beers, spirits and mixer, with common brands of Red and white wine, Beer, Bourbon/Whisky, Gin, Rum, Scotch, Tequila, Vodka, Soft drinks: lemon-lime, diet lemon-lime, cola, and diet cola, and Tonic.

        4. A hired cocktail bar

        For special events, you can hire a cocktail bar with a server to offer speciality, signature cocktails. These are luxurious drinks with a twist, which are luxurious and contain a lot of special ingredients.

        The best drinks to serve at a party

        At a party, you will have to serve drinks to the pallet of your guests, and sometimes these are not drinks you typically choose. Moreover, it’s hard to know which brands, types and flavours are most commonly appreciated.

        So, we have some general guidance for you here, taken from experts with years of experience in the field.

        Top beer brands to serve at a party

        When selecting beers for your party, opt for lagers, pilsners, wheat beers, amber ales, and pale ales that offer a balanced flavour profile appealing to a wide range of tastes.

        These beers typically have a moderate alcohol content, usually ranging from 4% to 6% ABV, making them approachable for various occasions. They are known for striking a harmonious balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness, avoiding extremes that might not suit everyone’s palate.

        Moreover, they leave a clean, refreshing aftertaste, which contributes to their universal appeal. These versatile beers are suitable for pairing with a variety of foods and are perfect for relaxed gatherings like barbecues, parties, and dining occasions.

        Lagers and Pilsners: Light lagers and pilsners such as Budweiser, Heineken, or Pilsner Urquell are favoured for their crisp, refreshing taste and lighter body.

        Wheat Beers: Wheat beers like Blue Moon Belgian White or Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier offer a slightly fruity and spicy note that appeals to a broad audience without being too challenging.

        Amber Ales: Beers like Fat Tire Amber Ale provide a nice balance of malt and hops with a touch of sweetness, making them easy to drink and enjoy.

        Pale Ales: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale offers a bit more hop character while still maintaining a broad appeal through its balanced flavour profile.

        Since this is a global brand, we have included a few popular options from each region that might be worth looking out for:

        European beers:

        • Heineken (Budget)
        • Stella Artois (Budget)
        • Guinness (Higher quality)
        • Kronenbourg 1664 (Higher quality)
        • Pilsner Urquell (Higher quality)

        American beers:

        • Budweiser (Budget)
        • Coors Light (Budget)
        • Miller Lite (Budget)
        • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Higher quality)
        • Samuel Adams Boston Lager (Higher quality)

        Australian beers:

        • Victoria Bitter (Budget)
        • XXXX Gold (Budget)
        • Coopers Pale Ale (Higher quality)
        • Carlton Draught (Budget)
        • Tooheys New (Budget)

        Top wine options

        If you are not a wine drinker, it can be hard to know which options to serve at a party. We have curated a list of the most popular types of wine and the area they are popular. Have a look at which flavours are local to you (those are likely to be the most preferred).

        A great tip can be to ask for advice in a wine shop. Buy a couple of bottles to taste and then you can still get the bulk of your order from elsewhere if this works out more affordable.

        Wine TypeDescriptionCountry of OriginFamous Growing Regions
        Red Wines
        Cabernet SauvignonBold, RichUnited StatesNapa Valley (California), Washington State
        Pinot NoirEarthy, CherryFranceBurgundy
        MerlotSmooth, PlumFranceBordeaux
        MalbecBold, Dark FruitArgentinaMendoza
        Shiraz/SyrahSpicy, BlackberryAustraliaBarossa Valley
        TempranilloSpicy, CherrySpainRioja, Ribera del Duero
        White Wines
        ChardonnayButtery, TropicalUnited StatesCalifornia (Napa Valley), Oregon
        Sauvignon BlancCrisp, CitrusNew ZealandMarlborough
        Pinot GrigioCrisp, LightItalyVeneto
        RieslingSweet, FloralGermanyMosel, Rheingau
        SemillonCitrus, HerbaceousAustraliaHunter Valley

        Top alcoholic fruity pitchers

        Here is some inspiration for the most appreciated and enjoyed pitcher options for a party. These are based on experiences of what tends to go down well amongst a wide variety of guests:

        • Pimms Cocktail: Pimms No. 1, lemonade, ginger ale, assorted fruits (strawberries, oranges, cucumbers), mint leaves.
        • Sangria: Red wine, orange juice, brandy, assorted fruits (oranges, lemons, apples), soda water.
        • Margarita Pitcher: Tequila, triple sec, lime juice, simple syrup, lime slices, salt for rimming glasses.
        • Mojito Pitcher: White rum, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water, fresh mint leaves, lime slices.
        • Fruity Gin and Tonic: Gin, tonic water, fresh lime juice, sliced strawberries, raspberries, cucumber slices, fresh mint leaves.
        • Spiked Lemonade: Vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, water, lemon slices, mint leaves

        Top non-alcoholic pitcher ideas

        It is always good to serve a few non-alcoholic pitchers as well as the alcoholic options. There are some fantastic, creative ideas out there that feel as luxurious as alcoholic pitchers but are suitable for everyone:

        • Iced Tea: Brewed black tea, lemon juice, simple syrup, lemon slices, mint leaves.
        • Fruit Punch: Orange juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, ginger ale, assorted fresh fruits (oranges, lemons, berries).
        • Hibiscus Iced Tea: Brewed hibiscus tea, simple syrup, lime juice, lime slices, mint leaves.
        • Ginger Ale Soft Drink Punch: Ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, mint, sliced oranges, lemons
        • Lemonade: Fresh lemon juice, water, simple syrup, lemon slices, mint leaves.

        Top cocktails to serve at a party

        If you’re serving cocktails at a party, here are some ideas fr the most popular party cocktails that are fairly simple to make, and very well loved!

        • Margarita: Tequila, triple sec, lime juice
        • Martini: Gin or vodka, vermouth
        • Old Fashioned: Whiskey, sugar, bitters
        • Cosmopolitan: Vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime juice
        • Mojito: White rum, mint leaves, lime juice, soda water
        • Pina Colada: Rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice
        • Negroni: Gin, vermouth rosso, Campari
        • Daiquiri: Rum, lime juice, simple syrup
        • Moscow Mule: Vodka, ginger beer, lime juice

        Top alcoholic drinks to serve at a party (with popular brands)

        • Wine: Red and white varieties are always popular.
        • Beer: Offer a selection of lagers, ales, and craft beers.
        • Vodka: Versatile for mixing into various cocktails.
        • Whiskey: Scotch, bourbon, and rye are favorites.

        Rum: Light and dark rums for cocktails like mojitos or daiquiris.Gin: Ideal for martinis, gin and tonics, or other mixed drinks.Tequila: Great for margaritas or shots.Champagne: For toasts or as a celebratory drink.Cocktails: Popular choices include margaritas, cosmopolitans, and old fashioneds.Cider: Refreshing option for those who prefer something different from beer.

        You might also like to check out our Party decoration guideparty entertainment guide, or What music to play at a party guide.

        Drinks quantities to serve at a party

        There are general rules of thumb for ordering drink quantities for a party. It’s best to calculate 1 drink per hour per person (2 in the first hour).

        Calculate 1 drink per hour per person (2 in the first hour)

        Once you know how many drinks are needed, decide how many of each type to get. For alcoholic drinks, a good mix could be about 50% wine, 20% beer, and 30% spirits, depending on what your guests like. This will help you figure out the rough amounts based on this table:

        Type of DrinkAmount per ServingAmount for 3-Hour Party/ person
        Wine (175 ml glass)175 ml3/4 Bottle
        Beer (12 oz bottle)12 oz (355 ml)4 bottles
        Spirits (1.5 oz double shot)1.5 oz (44 ml double shot)90 ml (or 2 double shots)
        Soft Drinks or mixers (12 oz can)12 oz (355 ml)4 cans/glasses or 1-1.5l

        You can use these tables, together with the number of guests you think will be drinking each type of drink. Calculate this using a rough percentage of the overall guests.

        Amounts of extras: Ice, napkins, straws, glassware, garnishes

        Here are some general guidelines for how many supplementary drinks items to order. Here is a very general table of the scale of quantities you might need for your event.

        For a 3-hour party, here are our suggestions:

        Item (3 hr party)10 People50 People100 People
        Ice10 lbs (4.5 kg)50 lbs (22.5 kg)100 lbs (45 kg)
        Napkins30 napkins150 napkins300 napkins
        Straws20 straws100 straws200 straws
        Glassware30 glasses (3 per person)150 glasses (3 per person)300 glasses (3 per person)
        Jugs3-4 jugs (pitchers)15-20 jugs (pitchers)30-40 jugs (pitchers)
        Lemon/Lime Wedges2 lemons/limes (12 wedges)9 lemons/limes (54 wedges)17 lemons/limes (102 wedges)

        This is based on the following assumptions, so you can have a look and see whether this feels right for your event and adjust accordingly.

        I tend to like erring on the side of too much, so you might not quite need these amounts, but this is stick equipment that doesn’t go out of date (at least not quickly) and could be used for future parties and gatherings aswell.


        • Ice: 1 lb (0.45 kg) per person per hour.
        • Napkins: 3 napkins per person.
        • Straws: 2 straws per person.
        • Glassware: 3 glasses per person (assuming different drinks).
        • Jugs (Pitchers): 1 jug for every 2-3 people, replenished as needed.
        • Lemon/Lime Wedges: Each lemon/lime yields about 6 wedges.

        Good luck!

        We hope this guide to serving drinks and the quantities of drinks to order for a party has been helpful! We provide this information as a general guide and hope that it is a great starting place for your event.

        Drinks and food are the foundation of hospitality, so we love to overprepare and have all the options available.

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