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Getting the Booze Right

A helpful questionnaire.

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First, Is the Hard Stuff Crucial?

(If NO skip down to the beer picture.)

Yes, It’s Not a Wedding Without the Hard Stuff.
Pouring booze requires either a venue with a liquor license or a caterer with one. (Note: Your caterer likely gets its booze from a liquor store. Ask about the store’s buyback policy. They should agree to take back unopened bottles.)

Then, Consider:
1. Can a Caterer’s Bartender Really Make a Good Martini?

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Some of them can, but why risk it? Leave the complicated stuff to the mixologists. Caterers love pre-batched drinks, and your guests will, too.

2. I'm OK With Pre-Batched Drinks, I Guess?

If so, meet the Paloma, the simplest way to get everyone soused.

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Pre-batch in a punch bowl or jug:
1 part tequila
3 parts grapefruit Jarritos
Lime wedges to garnish

3. This Sounds Nice, But I Still Want to Be Able to Serve a Perfect Martini

Ask your caterers for the credentials of the bartenders working your reception, and be prepared to shell out for bottles of vermouth.

4. Can I Ask My Bartender Pal to Work My Event?

Take it from Tristan Willey, a veteran of Booker and Dax and the Long Island Bar: I field a request to do a friend’s wedding, or a referral wedding, damn near two or three times a week. But what people forget when asking a bartender to do drinks for their event is that individuals rarely have the gear or prep space to execute a wedding on their own. It’s better to find a friend to design a program that a catering company or venue can execute on a scale that they are used to handling.

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What If Beer and Wine Only Works for Me and Mine?
This opens some doors for you. You can file for your own one-day beer-and-wine license for $36 (allow four weeks for processing). This means your venue can be anywhere.

Now How Do I Get Beer and Wine to Serve 100?

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Most local breweries sell beer by the keg. An IPA from Other Half will run you about $300 and can be picked up (if refrigerated) two weeks in advance. The North Fork is lousy with vineyards, and most sell wine by the case. Sparkling Pointe sells its 2013 Brut for $348 for 12 bottles.

And How Much Should I Buy

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An equation: Multiply the drinkers by the length of the reception in hours then divide by 96. That’s how many cases of wine you’ll need. Add one keg for every 40 guests.