This is the *average* breakdown of what a liquor shopping list looks like for 100 guests:
Beer: 5-6 cases
Whiskey: 1 liter
Bourbon: 1 liter
Gin: 2-3 liters
Scotch: 2 liters
Light Rum: 1 liter
Vodka: 5 liters
Tequila: 1 liter
Champagne: 1½ cases
Red Wine: 2 cases
White Wine: 3½ cases
Dry Vermouth: 1 bottle
Sweet Vermouth: 1 bottle
The keyword here is “average.” You know best what your family and friends will drink. If no one you know drinks scotch – scratch that from the list. If you know that you and yours are mostly beer drinkers, be sure to buy more or go with the keg option instead. Also this list does not include mixers, syrups, or garnishes, so be sure to factor that in as well.
The next important thing is understanding exactly what “open bar” means. There are a few other options instead of having an entirely open and fully stocked free bar.
Open Bar: Guests do not pay at all; they can drink anything and everything they want. Generally, the payment plan works as charging per person per hour.
Hosted Bar: This is essentially an open bar: guests do not pay and can drink anything and everything they want. However, instead of charging per hour, each drink made is rung up and at the end of the night, the final bill is charged to the host.
Limited Bar: This can be when there is a limited selection of drinks like beer and wine; or it can be when the hosts choose to set specific drinking times like toasts or for an hour after dinner.
Cash Bar: The guests pay to drink - just like any other bar.
There is some wiggle room in all of these. If you want to do a limited bar with beer and wine, but you have a few friends who drink only vodka, then get creative! Add on one signature cocktail in the color of your wedding. Blue bridesmaid dresses – Blue Hawaiian cocktails! Big Alabama fan – Crimson Tide cocktails! (click the link for the recipe!)