Are you ready for the last big party night of 2013? New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, and you get a chance to do a little more last minute shopping. This list is going to be different; before it was fighting your way through the mall at the last minute for some good deals and to get that one last present. This time you are hitting the liquor and grocery stores to make sure no one runs out of their favorite beverage at the big soiree. How much is enough? What are you going to need to keep the cocktails flowing and the champagne bubbling until 2014? Have no worries, we spent some time doing some leg work to provide you some useful tools. Some things to consider:
1. Set up some expectations for the party. Is it BYOB? Will you be providing beer and wine? If people come in knowing a little bit about what to expect, they can be prepared for the evening. They’ll be enjoying what you are providing, or bringing the special beers, wines, or liquors they enjoy.
2. How many guests? This is the biggest thing you need to consider. This will help set up all of the other items you need to get ready rather nicely. A head count, even an approximate one, will help you buy the proper quantities of liquor, beer, wine, and mixers you are going to need for the party. When you go out any buy supplies, you always want to buy for a few more guests than you think you will have. You never know when someone is going to bring a friend, maybe three.
3. What type of guests? If this is a family affair, you need to make sure you have a wide range of beverages, and not all of them should be alcoholic. Having soda, juices, and water is a good idea for any party, but you should make sure you increase the amount you buy when the kids are over. You may even consider making a few special mocktails for them, so they are not limited to just sodas. That may also involve buying a few special syrups, which are easiest to find in any place they sell coffee or coffee supplies. Da Vinci has an excellent collection of syrups.
4. What do they like to drink? There are plenty of charts out there that will tell you how much liquor to buy when you are throwing a party. And they all give an excellent idea of how much is a good amount. What many do not tell you is that you also need cater it to the people that are coming over. If my family comes down to visit me from Cleveland, I make sure I have a bottle of Jim Beam and a bottle of Buckeye Vodka handy. I also make sure there is a six pack of quality beer in the house. Having a great deal of any particular type of beverage that no one likes, or that is not part of another cocktail, is a bad idea. You are not going to need nearly as much gin and tequila as you will need rum, vodka and wines.
5. Plan your bar. There are plenty of ways you could get your bar ready. You could go for the basics, and only provide beer and wine for your guests, and invite them to bring any special liquor that they may want to enjoy. You could create a theme, and have drinks that all relate to that specific theme. You can also be very ambitious, and shoot for a full bar (see the link to the chart above). No matter what sort of bar you have planned, don’t forget the proper mixers and garnishes, and make sure you have plenty of them. The one thing you do not want to run out of is the main attraction. Even if you are expecting people to bring their own, you want a good selection of juices and sodas for them to mix their drinks with, as well as plenty of ice to keep it all cool. Juices and sodas are also perfect for designated drivers, non-drinkers, and children.
6. Have a cocktail ready to go. Making something simple and pre-mixed to offer guests as they come in is a great idea to make them feel welcomed. You can do a punch, so people can serve themselves while you are still welcoming guests. You can also have a simple bar set up that people can help themselves at; liquors, mixers, ice, and a few recipes. If you plan on bar tending for the night (or have someone to bar tend for you), have a simple drink menu available for people to choose from.
7. Keep an eye on your guests. People will hit the bar pretty hard when they first get there. Most guests will have a couple drinks in the first hour or so, then one drink per hour after that during the party. You are going to want to spend the first couple hours making sure that the bar stays well stocked with beer, wine, liquor, mixers, and ice. Towards the end of the night, you are going to want to make sure that your guests are not drunk. Talk with them before they go, to make sure their words are not slurring and they have the ability to focus. Hand them something to see how they reach for it. Is it a strong, direct grab or is it wavering, like the person is trying to find it? If they start getting loud or out of control during the party, make sure you cut them off. It is not comfortable, and it is best that you enlist the help of other guests to make sure their drinking is reduced. And if they are drunk, make sure they are not driving home, or you can get them a ride. Having guest bedrooms is ideal, but you can also call a taxi service.
It is very possible that you are going to one of the multitude of events on December 31st in the area. Have a lovely time, but make sure you have a designated driver or the number for a cab company handy. If the party is at your house, make your check list and head out to get your party supplies ready. After all, we don’t want a repeat of Christmas Eve, do we? Cheers!