Serving drinks at your next corporate function? Here are our do's and don'ts

If you’re in charge of organising your next corporate event, you’ll know how many factors go into making it run smoothly. And the catering is a big part of that – from the menu to the bar, how your event is catered can have a big impact on its success. The drinks element can be a tricky one, especially if there is alcohol involved.

As professional caterers, we are used to handling different client requirements, and experience with a vast range of corporate events has taught us what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to the drinks.

Here are a few helpful tips to make sure you don’t leave your guests high and dry when it comes to liquid refreshments:

1. Start with the type of event you’re hosting

Is this a big business presentation? Cocktails after work? Or a gala dinner? This will immediately give you a guideline on whether or not alcohol should be served and, if so, what kind, as well as the kinds of quantities you should be considering.

2. Consider your bar options

Are you serving alcohol? If you are, add some non-alcoholic options for those that do not drink and to dilute the quantity that is consumed by those that do drink. Getting drunk at a corporate event is seldom a good idea but open bars do lend themselves to over-indulgence by the guests. It’s also important to decide what type of alcohol you will be serving – this can be determined by the event – is it champagne and oysters or boerewors and beer? Will there be a wine bar or a themed speciality drink that is served to guests on arrival? Carefully chosen drinks can add to the atmosphere of your event, especially if they are kept in line with the theme. 

3. Plan your quantities

You don’t want to run out of drinks before your event is complete but you might not want to be left with a large amount of unopened stock either. A good rule of thumb is to go by the number of hours of the event – most guests will drink 2 drinks in the first hour, and a drink an hour after that. Plan accordingly.

4. If you’re not sure, keep things simple

Have a good selection of drinks (including the standard spirits like vodka and gin) but don’t go overboard. Unless your guests are wine experts, for example, you don’t need to be sure that all your food and all your drinks will go together or that all the wines are exceptional vintages. A solid house wine can go a long way. Where the event is right for a proper wine pairing, consider hiring the experts – a professional catering company like Food Matters will make sure the right wines are paired with the right foods for the perfect sensory experience.

5. Take time to consider how the drinks will be served

Are you planning on a fixed bar, a number of small drinks stations, waiters with trays, or a serve-yourself style set-up? Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages but hiring bar staff can be a big help on the day. Make sure they are professional, well trained, and well versed in the bar options and managing the drinks table will be one less thing for you to worry about.

Catering an event well takes experience and expertise. Need help with your food or drinks menu (as well as helping hands on the day)?

Hire a professional catering company like Food Matters to ensure your corporate event runs smoothly and your guests have a great experience.