If you’re throwing a cocktail party outside of typical meal hours, five or six types of hors d’oeuvres will be sufficient. Plan on each guests eating one or two of each kind. If your cocktail party takes place during meal hours, your guests will be hungry and there should be enough food to constitute a meal. Prepare eight to ten types of hors d’oeuvres and plan on each guest eating two to three of each. Also, younger men tend to eat more than women and seniors, so if you have lots of ties on your guest list, add a few extra hors d’oeuvres to your menu.
Before you stock your bar, you need to know how much alcohol and mixers to purchase. This guidelines below are helpful for any bar setup, but if you’re having a full bar, consult the chart farther below to make sure you have sufficient amounts of the various liquors and mixers. Of course, it’s always good to throw in some extras in case the party lasts longer than you planned, there are additional unexpected guests, or one drink is more popular than others.
Each guest will drink an average of two drinks the first hour and one drink each hour thereafter.
A one-liter bottle of alcohol yields approximately 22 mixed drinks, so if you know how many guests are attending and what kind of bar you’re going to have, you can easily figure out how much alcohol to purchase.
To accommodate any non-cocktail drinkers, estimate one bottle of wine per eight guests, remembering that white wine tends to be more popular than red.
One 750-ml bottle of Champagne fills six regular Champagne glasses. The amounts listed in the chart below account for how much Champagne guests will drink from the bar. If you plan to have a Champagne toast, you will need to purchase additional bottles—you only need to pour about a third of a glass for a toast, so plan on one bottle of bubbly for every ten guests.
Garnishes are relatively cheap, so it’s always smart to buy extras. Plan on a 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime and two each of olives, cherries, and onions per guest. This means that if you have 24 guests, you’ll need at least 12 lemons and 12 limes plus 48 each of olives, cherries, and onions.
Plan on one and a half pounds of ice per person. This will provide enough ice for drinks as well as any ice baths for wine or beer.