A professional can help you save money on alcohol. (Photo: Pixabay)
Food and beverages are the biggest expenses at most events. Even outpricing the venue itself for most occasions, quality meals and drinks are pricey yet essential. People may not talk about how amazing the food and drinks were for years to come, but they will certainly talk about how awful they were for a long time if you drop the ball on this important aspect of your event.
Event planners will tell you that alcohol can cause the biggest woes for their customers. Lots of folks want to offer drinks and cocktails but can’t figure out how to make the expense work in their budgets. But there are ways to keep costs down and make a bar doable for your event, be it a wedding, anniversary party or corporate retreat dinner. There are no hard and fast rules for cutting costs on serving alcohol, but there are suggestions and guidelines that will help.
Here’s my best advice.
Don’t be completely dead-set on a certain type or brand of alcohol going into your party planning. If you attend tastings ahead of your event, you can learn more about how certain liquors, wines and beers taste—and you may be surprised at the quality of taste for the price. Reputable liquor stores will always have tastings on the calendar, and you may be surprised how often they happen.
Keep choices simple.
No one comes to an event expecting a full bar with every liquor and mixer known to mankind. You aren’t committing a disservice to anyone by only having a handful of choices. You can keep most guests happy with a red wine, white wine, common beer (like Yuengling) and craft beer. Add in a custom cocktail for the event if you want a mixed drink, but remember that those who know their tastes are more difficult to please will have a flask in their purse, pocket or trunk.
Buy on sale and in bulk.
As with most things, alcohol is cheaper in bulk, and there are sales you should take advantage of. This requires planning ahead, of course—you are unlikely to happen upon a sale if you are trying to buy all the alcohol for your event the week before, but if you start early, you’ll find a sale before your event arrives.>
Let go of your preconceived notions.
Certain kinds of drinks and packaging have become stigmatized over time, yet many of those stigmas are unfounded. For example, box wine has a bad rap, but there are plenty of terrific box wines out there that are great on a budget. And if you hide the boxes behind the bar or decant the wines, no one will ever be the wiser about the wine’s packaging. Another example is buying a premade sangria and dressing it up with some fresh fruit—again, your patrons won’t know you didn’t mix the sangria yourself. If you’re open-minded, you can save money.
Setportion limits with bartending/serving staff.
There are several ways you can set limits for guests, and one great way that doesn’t result in any awkwardness is to allow the bartenders and serving staff to do the portion control. For example, you can ask that the bartenders only pour 5 ounces per glass of wine, rather than filling a glass almost to the top. This results in very little waste—if someone only takes a few sips, they only waste a couple of ounces rather than almost a whole glass. Setting portion limits also ensures that no one can bust your budget by drinking way more than you intended for one person to partake of. It will also help you calculate with much more accuracy how much alcohol to buy.
Ask for assistance.
If these tips seem overwhelming, that’s normal—and it’s why you should consider asking for help. For example, buying in bulk will indeed save you money—but how do you know how much to buy? If you overbuy, you may be stuck with the leftovers. Which common wines and beers are surefire crowd pleasers? What’s a discreet way to limit how much each person drinks? A professional can help you with these questions and choices. An alcohol professional will also know about upcoming sales, have tips for keeping choices simple, have advice about which tastings to attend and have suggestions for economical options.