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What Beverages Should I Provide My Guests?

Updated: Feb 18

Whether they’re in need of a Milwaukee wedding bar service or a bartending service for a private event in Madison, clients routinely ask, “What should I get for my party?” We talked about estimating how much guests will consume in a previous article, but clients often are unsure what kind alcohol to provide. Many wedding clients spring for a full “open bar” that includes beer, wine, and liquor, while others prefer beer and wine exclusively. Narrowing down what is best for each host depends on a few details such as budget and taste.

As a beverage connoisseur myself, I recommend sticking to what you, the host, enjoy. You can’t guess what every guest is going to want, and they rarely are unhappy with free drinks! After providing bar services in Milwaukee to thousands of guests, we’ve noticed a few trends. Who doesn’t love New Glarus Spotted Cow? We’ve noticed that this is a top choice of out-of-town guests attending events in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is known for several beers, but Spotted Cow is an event staple. You’ll likely want to provide at least one or two additional options for guests who may not prefer the flavor of this local ale. Miller Lite is always popular, especially since it’s a Milwaukee-brewed pilsner. Should you decide on a third choice, we definitely recommend your personal favorite! Guests love to come together and enjoy what their host enjoys, whether it’s a beer or a nice glass of wine.

Most people offer at least one white wine and one red wine at a big event or at their wedding reception. When it comes to choosing wines, it’s always best to consider which wines will go best with the meal that is being served. We suggest a white wine that is light and fresh, such as a Sauvignon Blanc. For red, pick one that is fruity and light, like a Pinot Noir. If you’re not sure about choosing wines for a special event, your event bartender can recommend a few to try in advance.

If you’re wanting to serve specialty cocktails or signature drinks, we’ll need to discuss liquor, which is sometimes sore subject when it comes to providing a large volume for guests. While a bottle may go a long way at home, your guests will tend to target your liquor supply for a large portion of your event. To pick the right liquors, you’ll want to consider any specialty or signature drinks you want to serve, the time of year, and the length and size of the event. Cooler months are perfect for darker liquors like whiskey, bourbon, rum, and brandy. During warmer months guests prefer vodka, gin, and tequila. This is a large variety and doesn’t really narrow down your selection. We suggest deciding on your favorite signature drinks and prioritizing those key liquors. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to have at least one dark liquor and one clear liquor. Three or four liquors at most will make things easy and keep your guests and lines flowing quickly.

Once you’ve narrowed down wine, beer, and liquor, you’ll want to consider putting one or two additional items on your shopping list. Seltzers have become considerably more popular over the years and make a great addition to your selections.

What about the non-drinking guests? Non-alcoholic beverages are important to providing a safe Milwaukee bar service and encouraging all guests to enjoy themselves. Check to see if you bar service is handling non-alcoholic options. If not, you’ll need to go shopping for them yourselves. Tavern Team can absolutely provide recommendations on what we’ve seen guests prefer over the years. Tavern Team’s bar service can help you determine quantities with one of its booked bartending services. If you’re interested in providing a bar experience for guests who prefer to not consume alcoholic beverages, Tavern Team does offer a Mocktail Bar with Zero Proof Cocktails that are age-appropriate for all guests. The Old Fashioned, Dark and Stormy, and even the Margarita contain 0% alcohol, and guests love them!

It’s always important to remember that you are providing these beverages as a gift to your guests for attending and celebrating with you. Providing these beverages within your budget is important, and guests will indulge in any beverages that are available. Many of our clients will heavily supply additional beer instead of liquor, understanding that when the liquor runs out guests will switch to an available beverage. Enjoy your planning, and reach out to Tavern Team to discuss your bartending services in Milwaukee, Madison, Fond Du Lac, Lake Geneva, Northern Illinois, and parts of Upstate New York.

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