Mulligan Management Group, LLC

9 Dos and Don’ts of Serving Alcohol at Your Event


Whether it is planning a party, wedding or conference, the subject of alcohol always comes to the forefront. Some individuals feel strongly about having none, while others want an open bar every night. The truth of the matter is you can serve alcohol as long as you take the proper planning precautions.


Here are the 9 things I would recommend you consider when serving alcohol:

  1. DO offer a signature drink.

    Perhaps you serve eggnog, a gingerbread martini or champagne with cranberries. Whatever you choose, make it in keeping with your themed celebration.
  2. DO plan your F&B budget accordingly.

    If you are offering an open bar and/or serving alcohol at a meal function, make certain you have allocated enough of your budget for alcohol. If your budget is tight, offer house red and white wines, as well as, domestic beers. Have water on the table and encourage servers to fill up water glasses often.  
  3. DO limit how much guests drink.

    While I am not a fan of an open bar (unless it is at an all-inclusive resort), there are ways you can control how much your guests consume. Some of the most common ways are:
    1. Limit the reception hour
    2. Give attendees drink tickets
    3. Set a 3-drink maximum and/or
    4. Serve food

  4. DO offer a variety drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

    It is important to offer a variety of beverages including different types of white and red wines, regular and light beers and virgin drinks such as Pina Coladas, Shirley Temples and Club Soda. Don’t just go with water and pop – make the variety buzz worthy.
  5. DON’T host a hospitality suite.

    Hospitality suites were originally created in the 1980’s during Comdex because bars in Las Vegas were very crowded plus there were not that many of them. Vendors wanted more intimate places for people to talk and learn about each other.

    Fast forward to 2014 where bars are more prevalent on property and people do most of their networking within the confines of the conference. Ditch the hospitality suite; you are just asking for trouble.  
  6. DO plan accordingly.

         Figure out how many bars and bartenders you need at your event. The rule of thumb is 1 bartender for every 100 people. Determine what you will serve, when and how you             will control your guests limit to alcohol. Will you have police or security personnel onsite to deter drunkenness? Talk about all of these measures in your planning process.

  1. DON’T serve at a venue unless it’s licensed to serve.

           You might want to hold your special event in a rustic location, but unless the property has been properly licensed to serve alcohol, serving without a license is a serious                     offense.

            Stick with venues that are properly licensed and insured. If you have any questions about it, ask the general manager to show you their license and current liquor liability                coverage.


  1. DO hire trained bartenders and wait staff.

    Every state has training through the liquor control agency to help bartenders spot and stop serving intoxicated persons. However, you want to make sure your waiters and waitresses are also trained because they are often in the front line serving individuals.


  1.  DO provide transportation options to your guests.

    You don’t want inebriated guests to leave the property so you need to have a plan to make sure this doesn’t happen.

    Have options such as taxi or shuttle service, Uber or designated drives on hand to drive guests home if need be. In addition, having your party, event or meeting at an all-inclusive resort helps because most guests will book a hotel room as part of the experience.

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