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How much drink do I need for my wedding or party?

How much drink do I need for my wedding or party?

Planning a wedding or party but not sure what or how much to buy? Read on for our personal advice to how many of bottles of fizz to buy, what you need to stock a quality full bar, and other things to keep in mind!

It’s very difficult to know exact quantities without knowing your guests, but hopefully the information below will help you on your way to creating an epic bar! If you’re still stuck, give us a call and let handle your mobile bar requirements for you!

How Many Bottles of Prosecco / Champagne to Buy for 50 Guests?

A standard sized champagne glass will hold 125ml. With a standard sized bottle of fizz containing 750ml, you’ll get 5 measures from a bottle. Some guests will have a couple glasses, others may have none at all, so it’s reasonably safe to assume that guests will drink, on average, one glass each. Obviously, you’ll know your guests better than us, but this is a good base figure to work from.

Working on the above, here is how it works out for different numbers of guests:

  • How many bottles of Prosecco / Champagne for 10 guests: 2 bottles
  •  for 20 guests: 4 bottles
  •  for 25 guests: 5 bottles
  •  for 50 guests: 10 bottles
  •  100 guests: 20 bottles

How many bottles are needed for a toast?

For a Champagne or Prosecco toast you can stretch a bottle of fizz out a little further and allow 1 bottle per 10 guests.

How Much Ice Will I Need for My Wedding or Party?

Assuming you will also be using ice to keep bottles chilled, we suggest a minimum of half a bag (1kg) of ice per guest. So, for a party of 100 guests, allow 50 x 2kg bags. This may sound excessive, but do not underestimate how much ice you’ll need to keep things chilled! At an average supermarket cost of £1 a bag, does it really matter if you throw 10 away at the end of the evening?

What Garnishes to Will I Need?

This is a difficult one to judge. You’ll sensibly get around 12 good sized slices from a lemon or a lime, or around 6 wedges. Depending on what you’ll be serving at the bar, this should give a very rough indication of what you need. If you’re serving Pimm’s, or premium gins, you’ll probably need more fruit than just lemons and limes. If Corona or Sol is your choice of lagers, you’ll need a wedge of lime in each one. Our suggestion is to go overkill and make sure you never run out!



Guide to Planning a Full Bar

Before you stock your bar, you need to know how much alcohol and mixers to purchase. Again, this is a difficult one to get right and relies on many factors including age / sex of guests, time of year and weather!

For an event in the middle of summer, you’ll likely find that the men want an ice-cold beer, the ladies want Pimm’s, Fizz or wine, and the kids want whatever you haven’t got! If the event is during the colder months (September to June in the UK!), then you might find the lager drinkers want a real ale, and the ladies want red wine.

  • Each guest will drink an average of two drinks the first hour and one drink each hour thereafter. Obviously if your guests are mainly rugby players, this will increase. Dramatically!
  • A standard UK spirits bottle holds twenty eight 25ml measures, so assuming everybody wants a single gin and tonic, you have 28 servings to a bottle.
  • It’s always good to throw in some extras in case the party lasts longer than you planned, there are additional unexpected guests, or one drink is more popular than others.

Below is a survey carried out by NHS England which shows a handy bar chart of peoples drinking habits.



As you’ll see, beer, cider, wine and spirits are the popular choices for men, with wine, spirits and beer being popular for women. It also wise to look at the latest drinking trends. Currently gin is massive, with craft beers and rum following behind.

So, what should I order?

Hopefully the above will have given you a bit of an insight into the complexities of what is involved with running your own bar. Below is a list of what we at Hops & Bubbles would suggest for an 8 hour party (4pm til midnight) based on 80 adults and 20 kids. We have also suggested brands that go down well.

It is inevitable that you will either run out of one or more products during the course of your event, and you may also be left with a lot of unused stock! We would recommend ordering stock from someone such as Waitrose who will take back any unused stock on your next delivery.

Quantities below assume that you can send back any unused stock for a refund. The list is quite large, but we like to offer a good selection of drinks! Our personal stocklist is much wider than the list below, but it will hopefully help you to supply a decent bar.

Beers, Ales & Ciders

14 cases x 24 bottles of lager (Corona, Budweiser, Becks seem to go down well)

60 x bottles real ale (Doom Bar, London Pride, Local breweries)

60 x bottles cider (Bulmers / Old Mout)


Wines / Prosecco (75cl bottles)


18 x White wines – Mix of Pinot and Sauv Blanc

6 x Rosé

18 x Prosecco (purely for the bar, does not allow for toasting)

6 x Red wine



5 x good quality gin’s (Hendricks, Bombay. Also, Gordon’s Pink Gin is massive at the moment!)

4 x Smirnoff vodka (Could substitute with Grey Goose or Absolut)

1 x Dark / Spiced rum (Captain Morgans, Bumbu)

2 x Bacardi

1 x Whiskey (Famous Grouse or Bells)

Depending on how elaborate you want to go, you could add Malibu, Archers, Pimms, Tequila, Sambucca etc to the list. Just remember, anything you open cannot be sent back so ordering half bottles may be a wise option!


Soft drinks / mixers

120 x (servings) Good quality mixers – Fever Tree or similar (Tonic, slim tonic, ginger ale). Most supermarkets sell multipack cans and glass bottles. Don’t be tempted to use cheap 1 litre plastic bottles, they go flat in no time and will ruin your drink.

10 x cartons of juice – Orange, apple, cranberry

1 x Lime juice cordial

2 x orange / lemon squash

6 x soda water (1ltr)

12 x 2ltr lemonade – R Whites or Schweppes. Keep the in an ice bath and they’ll keep their fizz longer.

60 x cans Coke / Pepsi – Bottles of coke don’t seem to keep their fizz as long as lemonade which is why we suggest cans

24 x cans Diet Coke / Pepsi

48 x bottles of water

Drinks for the kids – Fruit Shoots, Cartons of juice etc

Non-Alcoholic beers and ciders

It is always wise to offer some non-alcoholic drinks other than the soft drinks. For lager we would suggest Heineken 0.0, Real ale go for Adnams Ghost Ship, and for cider Old Mout Berries and Cherries alc free is a good choice.

Please remember: If you are chilling bottles in an ice bath it is likely the labels will be damaged an will not be able to be returned for credit.




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Do I need a licence for my wedding bar or event?

Do I need a licence for my wedding bar or event?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked by our mobile bar hire clients, and it is a difficult one to answer!

The short answer to whether you need a licence for your marquee wedding or event is: possibly!

The exact answer depends on a lot of factors which are explained below.

Events only need licensing if “licensable activities” are taking place, these include:

  1. the performance of a play (this means any piece where a dramatic role is acted out);
  2. an exhibition of a film (this means any display of moving pictures);
  3. an indoor sporting event;
  4. boxing or wrestling entertainment;
  5. a performance of live music;
  6. any playing of recorded music;
  7. a performance of dance;
  8. or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance.
  9. the sale of alcohol (either at a cash bar or as part of a ticket price)

Numbers 5 and 6 mean that included in most weddings and parties there will be a licensable activity. However, for a licence to be required for activities 1 to 8 they must take place “for a consideration or with a view to a profit” which means that a band performing at a wedding or event where the guests have not been charged an admission fee would not require the event to have a licence, whereas a charity concert where donations are sought from the audience would need to be licenced.

Number 9 only covers the sale of alcohol. You can give away as much drink as you like to your guests as long as you do not charge them for it.

Luckilly, the latest Licencing Act (2003) has made it relatively easy for anyone over the age of 18 to apply for what is known as a Temporary Events Notice (TEN).

Although the application process is simple, there are still a few things to consider:

  • Leave plenty of time to apply. A TEN application takes 10 clear working days (so technically 11!), but we suggest contacting the district council that covers your venue before booking to ensure the next point is covered……
  • A venue can only have 15 TEN’s per year. Check with the venue owners and district council to make sure the limit hasn’t already been reached.
  • A TEN only covers up to 499 people. This includes staff, outside caterers, volunteers etc.
  • Some conditions may have already been placed on the venue (Usually music after a certain time). Again, check with the council!
  • The applicant will be responsible for the conduct of guests – any issues arrising may come back to you personally, and fines can be hefty!
  • The Police, Licencing or Environmental Health can turn up and request to see your licence at any time. Keep a copy of your application in a safe place at the venue.
  • A TEN can be applied for online and costs £21.  Check your application form carefully before submitting it!

We would strongly suggest that if you are in any doubt whatsoever to make contact with the district council responsible for your venue!

If you book your cash bar through Hops & Bubbles, we can arrange the TEN on your behalf.


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How to run your own bar at your wedding or event

Running your own bar at your event – a few tips to help you

Simple outside bar setupWe understand that some people want to run their own bar. Maybe they have friends or family who want to be the barman for the day or know someone from their local pub who is keen to help. Whether you need a bar for a garden party, or wedding bar, there are a lot of things to organise!

All our equipment is available to hire with or without staff, so if a trestle table at the back of your venue won’t cut it, why not hire one of our mobile bars?

Here’s a list of things to consider if you’re thinking of running your own bar, and some tips that will help you plan your party or wedding so that it runs smoothly. The list is by no means exhaustive but will help you on your way to making sure everything has been covered.

If you still have any questions please feel free to email us, we’d be happy to give you some advice or clarification on any of the points below.


  • Is the bar going to be inside or outside?
  • If outside, do you have or need cover in case it rains?
  • Do you need an electricity supply to the bar, and can you safely route a cable to it?
  • Is there a water supply / washing up facility close by?
  • Have you allowed a space to keep stock secure?
  • Do you have somewhere to store ice?
  • How will you chill your drinks and keep them cold?


  • How many people will be attending? Will there be mainly drinking adults, or will there be lots of children or people driving?
  • Are you going to have a few specific drinks available, or are you going to push the boat out and have a large range?
  • Can you get your bar stock on ‘sale or return’?
  • Are you going to use disposable glasses or hire in glassware?
  • Have you ordered lemons, limes and garnishes for drinks? Drinking straws?
  • Ice – Do not underestimate how much ice you will need! Not only for serving in drinks, but also chilling drinks.

Free bar or cash bar

  • Will you be charging guests for their drinks or supplying them for free?
  • Does the premises have a licence that will cover the licensable activities? Do you need to apply for a TEN?
  • If you will be charging for drinks, do your guests know that they will need cash? (you’re unlikely to have a card reader, and you’d be surprised how many people expect to be able to pay with their card / phone / watch!)
  • Do you have plenty of change? Experience tells us that most people turn up with notes and leave with a pocket full of change – make sure you have plenty of coins!!


  • bar hire in Surrey How will you build your bar setup? Trestle tables? Hire a mobile bar?
  • How will you keep your drinks chilled? Fridges? Ice?
  • Do you have ice buckets, bottle openers, chopping boards, spirits measures etc?
  • Where will you store your ice? Freezer? Insulated crates?

During the event

  • Do you have enough people helping? We suggest a minimum of 2 people serving for anything over 40 guests, increasing to 3 when you reach 100 guests
  • Do you have a runner? Someone to clear away glasses, restock the bar, clear away rubbish?

End of the event

  • Do you have enough people to help you clear everything away?
  • Do you need have somewhere secure to store any excess stock?
  • Does someone need to be sober enough to drive?!
  • If your event is at a village hall or similar, whose job is it to ensure the venue is left as you found it, locked up and keys handed back?


A few tips and tricks

  • Allow plenty of time for your drinks to chill. A fridge will take at least 3 or 4 hours to get bottles down to temperature. Remember, it will also take this time to chill down any new stock you put in during the session!
  • Ice baths provide the quickest and most efficient way to chill bottles. In under an hour you’ll be ready to serve. It is important to use water in the ice bath too as ice alone does not have the same effect. Always make sure there is plenty of ice visible in your chilling buckets / baths and you’ll know your temperature is about right. Ideally you want the ice and water to be at least up to the base of the neck of the bottle.
  • If your stock is on sale or return, do not open more cases than you need. Opened cases will not be able to be returned after the event.
  • Bear in mind that if using the ice bath method, many beer / wine labels will come off if soaked for too long.
  • Choose the best quality drinks you can afford. Do you really want to serve a premium gin with Tesco Value tonic water?
  • Remember you are responsible for your guests. Choose the strengths of alcohol wisely! Do you really want your mate Dave to be drinking wine at your wedding breakfast, and then carry on throughout the evening drinking the 9% cider you thought would be nice to have at the bar? This will likely end up in Dave making an arse of himself, possibly falling into your wedding cake or being sick on Great Aunt Edna’s lap.
  • Not everyone will be drinking alcohol. Make sure you have a good selection of quality soft drinks for the non-drinkers and kids. Have a good supply of water to hand.
  • Do not underestimate how much ice you will use! If you’re also going to be using ice for chilling drinks, allow half a bag per guest. It may sound overkill, but 50 bags for 100 guests should be allowed for an event lasting a few hours.
  • Keep things tidy. Design your work area to be as efficient as possible. Recycling bins, rubbish bins and dirty glass storage should all be out of site but easily accessible. Keep your bar top clean and wipe down any spillages immediately.
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Fizz – Champagne, Prosecco or Cava?

A party is not a party without some kind of fizz on offer. When thinking about what bubbles to serve at your wedding or event, you’ll have a few options.

Champagne or proseccoWe’ll start at the top with the king of the fizz – Champagne.

There are very strict rules set in place by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, a group of Champagne houses and producers in France, that define what can be called Champagne and what has to be called sparkling wine. The main stipulation being that Champagne can only refer to “sparkling wine that is grown and produced in Champagne, France”. That means if you’re drinking a glass of something bubbly and it’s not from Champagne in France, it cannot be called Champagne, even if it is produced in the same way that Champagne is produced using the same types of grapes that you’d find in Champagne.

So, if the fizz you’re drinking is not Champagne then what is it?!

As with Champagne, the type of sparkling wine you’re drinking almost always depends on the place it’s grown and produced. Cava is Spanish sparkling wine and is also produced with in-bottle fermentation. Prosecco, the sparkling wine that is the popular choice around the UK at the moment, is Italian. Prosecco differs from cava and Champagne slightly because it is not fermented in the bottle; instead, it is fermented in metal vats.

When it comes to taste, it can be difficult to tell exactly what type of sparkling wine you’re drinking. Even within each of these categories, there are different varieties of sparkling wine, ranging from brut, which is dry with a hint of sweetness, to dry, which is sweet and not really dry at all!

Another one to throw into the mix is Frizzante. You’ll often see people advertising draught Prosecco which is served from a tap linked to a stainless steel keg. Although reasonably close to Prosecco, UK trading standards have been clamping down on companies marketing Frizzante as Prosecco as it is not the same product!

As you can see from the very brief delve into Champagne, Cava, Prosecco and Frizzante above, the most important part in choosing the right fizz for you is your taste buds! You can’t really go wrong with any of the choices, pick a good quality one within your budget and your guests will be happy!