How to Choose Alcohol for Your Seattle Event

How to Choose Alcohol for Your Seattle Event

Flowers, décor, music, food, invitations – with so many items to think about and plan for an upcoming event, getting everything settled can leave you feeling, well, a little tipsy! Often though, choosing drinks and liquor planning is an overlooked task, but not an easy one to leave until the last minute. Herban Feast Event Sales & Services Manager and planner extraordinaire, Reese Rowe, to the rescue! Read through Reese’s great tips for how to set up a special event bar and take the guesswork out of stocking the spirits for your next shindig.

Photo: Clane Gessel


How do you decide how much liquor to provide? How much wine, beer, and champagne? Is there a rule tied to headcount?

Yes and no. You know your guests better than any matrix can, so use this as a guideline – if your crowd is a young, beer-drinking group – get more beer and less wine. Seasons also affect the mix of red/white wine, so keep that in mind. The general rule is to plan for 1.5 drinks per person per hour of bar service. That’s a lot, but people put down drinks, things spill and that glass of merlot might not taste the same after the key lime tartlet.


Photo: Clane Gessel

What types of alcohol should you provide at your event?

 The basics would be a red, a white, and a few kinds of beer (usually one light and a couple full bodied beers).  As far as wine – buy what you like, but keep your crowd in mind. This might not be the best opportunity to explore Alsatian Reislings. I like to serve local wines whenever I can – and Washington State produces some of the best wine in the world.  Generally speaking, I’d recommend an un-oaked chardonnay, or a sauvignon blanc for white, and it’s hard to beat a Washington red blend. A blend is often a great way to stretch the dollar a bit further, and they’re typically very approachable and easy to drink.

If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in the summer – consider adding a dry rose or a sparkling wine to the bar, as red wine may feel a little heavy before dinner.

A basic ‘full bar’ would have vodka, gin, bourbon, rum and possibly tequila. Unless you’re having margaritas though, you can probably skip the tequila. If you’re interested in having a cocktail bar, consider what you and your friends and family drink. Drink Manhattans? Get vermouth too. Drink Campari & soda? Get Campari, but maybe just one bottle.


How many bartenders do you need?

 General rule is one bartender and one barback (2 people) per 100 guests for beer and wine. If you’re adding hard alcohol, you’ll need at least 2 people for every 75 guests.


Should you have a signature cocktail? Does Herban Feast help create these?

 A signature drink is a great way to do something special without breaking the budget. We are happy to help you come up with your specialty cocktail. It’s very helpful if you have some ideas – a color, a flavor, a theme…and we can build from there.


What are some unique cocktails you have seen? Any cocktail trends you have noticed this summer/year?

 We like to add herbs and seasonal fruits wherever possible – there’s nothing better than an apple mint mojito with apple mint from our owner, BJ’s garden. Craft cocktails, home brewing and local distillers are big. Rye Whiskey is big.

A DIY trend that’s really fun is to infuse your own spirits – berry, citrus, vanilla – and spiced vodkas are easy and fun. Some of the alcohol leaches out in the process, so check internet resources for instructions.


What else should people know about selecting liquor for their event?

Avoid specialty cocktails that require a bunch of ingredients. Your guests are really just happy to be there, but even your die-hard cocktail crowd would rather grab a beer than wait for your bartender to crush violets to order. If it’s not going to improve the party – skip it. On the other hand, some cocktails improve when they’re batched (made ahead in quantity) – who can argue with white peach sangria?


Need more expert advice on full bar service for your upcoming event? Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 206-932-4717. To learn about our catering Seattle expertise and experience, please visit our catering page. Bottoms up!