We’ve discussed different beverage options for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but the next question is always should I do an open bar or beverages on consumption? Providing your own alcohol is usually the most cost-effective option, but is not always permitted. In this article, we assume it is not an option.
The open bar or beverages on consumption is a tricky question, and unfortunately, there is no one right answer since you can’t predict how much your guests will drink. The industry rule of thumb is two drinks per person for the cocktail hour then one drink per person per hour for the remainder of the party. I know this sounds like a lot to most people, but keep in mind that despite getting those drinks from the bar, you may not actually consume the entire drink. You put down the drink and forget about it, the drink gets cleared before you’re finished, etc.
Their beverage consumption may vary based on a variety of factors listed below.
Is it an evening or afternoon party? People are less likely to drink heavily in the afternoon. Some venues may offer a different price for open bar beverage packages because of this.
You know your guests best, so you are the only one who can answer the question of whether or not they are big drinkers and how many are big drinkers. Go through your guest list and add a column to estimate the number of drinks each guest will have. Some people have told me that their Jewish guests drink less, but I don’t know if that is actually true.
Cost of drinks
The final decision about whether to do open bar or beverage on consumption comes down to math. How much does a glass of beer, wine, mixed drinks or soda cost each? How many drinks do you reasonably think your guests will drink? Multiply. What is the number of drinks per guest where it makes sense to pay for a package vs. on consumption? When considering the cost of drinks, also keep in mind what is included in the open bar package–does it include wine service at the tables, hard liquor, etc.?
If you want to move forward with beverages on consumption check with your caterer to see if you are able to set a limit and once it is reached, either the bar will close or you will reauthorize to spend more.
Doing beverages on consumption is risky, since you can’t predict how much guests will drink or how quickly will the waitstaff clear drinks. However, you know your guests best. After assessing your guest list and doing the math, you can decide what makes the most financial sense.