Let’s get thinking about the drinks

1st July 2022

When it comes to any event, party or wedding, the drinks that you provide are vitally important and go quite a long way to setting the tone of your event.
Even at a ‘bring your own booze’ event, it can be customary to provide something for your guests; just a selection of soft drinks to keep them hydrated will be appreciated.
Here are some of Party Pages’ considerations when it comes to the bar and/or drinks for your event.


Welcome drinks:

In many different cultures and social conventions, it is appropriate to offer any guests a drink on arrival and the same goes for a party or event; it is almost expected that as a host, you will offer at least one drink to your guest when they arrive. Many events will have an arrival period in which guests can enter the event, have their first drink, greet the host(s) and mingle with other guests, before anything really happens, such as catering or entertainment.

As a venue manager, I would often suggest providing at least one drink per person on arrival. This can be stipulated by the host, such as a glass of bubbles, a tea/coffee, a water or soft drink. Perhaps you might prefer to put some money behind the bar so that the first drink of their choice is on you. Either way, your guests will then have been thanked for attending and given the courtesy of a refreshment when arriving at your event.

It is important to consider each of your guests and make sure that you are not leaving anyone out. If it is an alcohol drinking event, make sure that you have a soft drink alternative for those who do not wish to drink. If offering tea/coffee, make sure that you have a cold alternative and/or some decaffeinated options for those avoiding caffeine.
Water or orange juice is almost always a safe option to have, although there are many more exciting alternatives. How about a flavoured sparkling drink such as elderflower or a sparkling fruit juice? You can get non-alcoholic versions of almost everything now; beer, cider, wine, fizz… even gin!


Event drinks:

Following the drink on arrival, you may have arranged for guests to bring their own drinks or for a bar to be available for them to purchase further drinks on the day.
Try to ensure that free water will be available, whether that is just from a tap where they can refill their own water bottles or glasses, or a water fountain or water station where they can keep hydrated for free. At the very least, ensure that there is water available to purchase.

If you are providing further refreshments, here are some additional recommendations and considerations.


Try to keep the drinks varied.
If attending a daytime corporate event, tea/coffee and water can get quite dull by the third or fourth serving. Perhaps offer fruit juice or other soft drinks instead; you can even arrange hot chocolate or iced coffee for something a little more exciting. If your company allows for it, why not finish the day with a glass of wine or a beer?
Evening corporate events or all expenses paid events can use some of the suggestions below for how to include more exciting drinks. However, you may wish to impose some restrictions on the alcohol permitted to ensure that your colleagues will be sensible whilst attending the event.

For a social event or a wedding, it is completely up to you how varied you would like to go with your drinks offerings. Below are some suggestions as to how you can include drinks at your events, but with all, remember to have some non-alcoholic options at the ready for anyone who can’t or won’t drink alcohol (see above).

Table drinks – provide bottles of wine and jugs/bottles of water on the guests’ tables. You can arrange to have ice buckets of beers, ciders and soft drinks as well, to avoid any queues at a bar or drinks station. It’s unusual to have a licenced venue allow bottles of spirits on tables, however you can always do this at home or at an unlicenced venue.

Open bar – it is usually seen as very generous to open a bar tab and allow your guests to drink for free. There are some ways of controlling this, such as to give your guests drinks tokens so they have a set number of drinks each, rather than risk one or two people getting greedy. You can place restrictions on which drinks are served, such as no large servings or doubles, no shots, no bottles of wine/fizz. Most bars will also allow you to set a monetary limit and will then charge guests thereafter when the limit is reached.
If you’re hosting your event at home or at a venue without a bar, there are some great local mobile bar companies who can provide this service. Check out our Mobile bars category with some of our favourite suppliers from our online directory.

Tray service – Another way of treating your guests and keeping them topped up is to hire servers to meander through your guests with trays of drinks. This is a great way to provide a touch of elegance and stop your guests having to head to the bar when they need a drink. It’s also a great way to only offer the drinks that you want, as a guest is much more likely to take a drink offered to them than to physically go to a bar or kitchen to get their own.

Cocktails – although traditionally served from a bar, you can create a drinks station where guests can make their own cocktails. Just be careful with people pouring their own drinks as they tend to get heavy handed with the spirits. Perhaps provide cocktail recipes on the station or even hire a mixologist to man this area.
“My favourite technique is to premix some cocktails into large jugs and then provide ice, cocktail shakers and glasses for guests to serve themselves. I usually have 3 or 4 different types of cocktails available… something fruity served in a tall glass with plenty of ice, something a bit stronger shaken over ice and served in a martini glass, a short warming cocktail and then a mocktail for those not wishing to drink alcohol. My guests get involved in the theatricality of making their cocktail, without the risk of them being too strong or wrongly mixed. I just then focus on keeping the jugs ready and waiting.”

Pimp my prosecco/gin – with these popular drinks, many people like to put additions in their fizz or gin. You can provide fruit juice, fresh fruit, liqueurs and even flavoured glitter/shimmer. If providing the drinks, then these can be placed on a station along with the above for guests to help themselves and tailor their drinks. However, guests can always head to the station with a drink in hand from the bar and it will still be seen as an exciting treat, to “pimp it up!”

Drinking games – beer or prosecco pong is a fun addition to any party or event, where 2 teams go head to head in order to score a goal and make the other team drink. If you’re not familiar with the rules, you can find them online. There are many other student style drinking games that you can find online, which can often add an element of competition and get-to-know-you style fun into the mix.

Toast drinks – popular at weddings and other special occasions where speeches are likely, you might wish to offer guests a glass of bubbles so that they can toast when appropriate. A champagne flute filled ½ to ¾ full of your chosen fizz is usually perfect for this. Another popular option is to offer guests a shot or shooter to have all together at the appropriate moment… just make sure that they are aware when this is!

Gifts or favours – again popular at weddings, it can be customary to offer guests a small gift as a thank you for attending. Miniatures of alcohol can be a popular option, but be sure to check with your venue, as some will not allow this. Although a very thoughtful option, be careful with that expensive bottle of whiskey to thank your best man; a licenced venue will likely take it off them, as they will not be permitted to drink it there and then.

And there you have our more popular recommendations and considerations involving drinks for your events.
If you have any quick questions, you can always message us on Ask Party Pages and one of our advisors will get back to you. If you would like us to help you to plan your event and make the necessary arrangements, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
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