There’s a reason why some people refer to alcohol as the social lubricant.

Serving drinks at promotional events can be a good idea — as long as it’s done responsibly. A glass of wine or a cold beer can be refreshing after an entire day of walking around and introducing yourself to strangers.

What’s not a good idea is an alcohol-fuelled event where people drink too much and get out of control. But you already knew that, right?


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11 Tips for serving alcohol at events

So let’s talk a bit more about what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to serving booze:

Quality speaks to style

Have you ever had a hangover of cheap wine? Not pretty.

Also, a glass of good quality champagne or wine makes a good impression. It shows you want the best for your customers, which will be reflected in the overall perception of your business. Cheap plonk will put people off and says you’re not interested. So our advice is to give out the best quality alcohol you can afford at events. And if you must serve it in plastic containers (for safety reasons), at least use plastic champagne flutes or glasses, and NOT the kind of plastic cups used at kid’s parties.

Promote, promote, promote

Spread the word and invite people to join you for a glass of cava (which is the same as champagne, but cheaper *wink*) or wine. This is especially useful if you’re at a trade show or conference and have a stand serving drinks. It’s a great technique to get people to visit your stand, and then you can decide whether to go for the hard or soft sell.

Serve food as well

A few appetisers or snacks will ensure people aren’t drinking on an empty stomach. Small stylish bites to eat are also another way to feed your guests and wow them at the same time. Here are some on-trend ideas for appetisers you could serve at your next event.

Make sure you’re licensed to serve alcohol

At large trade shows this should be covered with no problems. But if you plan to serve a glass of wine to visitors somewhere like a shopping centre you need to check you’re legally allowed to do this. The same applies to other events, such as school fairs, conferences, and street shows. No matter where you are if you don’t have a licence to serve alcohol, you could end up with a big fine.


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Consider non-alcoholic beverages

There are lots of reasons people may not wish to drink alcohol at events, so ensure you have a selection of non-alcoholic choices to ensure everyone has a choice. You can still serve something special and original, though. Try these recipes for non-alcoholic drinks at events to get inspired.

Do you want to serve spirits?

Spirits are a big no no during corporate events. While beer and wine are common choices for openings and exhibits, hard alcohol is usually frowned upon. But if you’re organising a party, then by all means…

Limit how much alcohol you serve

It’s important to keep an eye on how much everyone is drinking. If you are hosting an employee event, such as a Christmas party or a team building event, it’s a good idea to allocate tickets so attendees can limit their alcohol intake. Likewise, if you’re offering drinks to potential clients, it’s still vital to keep an eye on the elbow bending as people can consume too much, too quickly and get out of control. If you are the host, it would be a good idea to only consume non-alcoholic drinks yourself so you can monitor everyone else. Remember the overall objective of the event: it’s to entertain your clients, but your long-term strategy is to grow your business.


Lucy drinking champagne "Alcohol at events"


Use a bartender

If you are hosting a big event, you won’t be able to keep an eye on how much people are drinking. A bartender will ensure people don’t help themselves to alcohol, and they’ll be able to exercise a certain degree of control on the quantity people are drinking.

Consider transport

If you are providing alcohol at an event it’s a nice idea to provide transport so no one drinks and drives. Companies like Hearn’s allow you to rent a luxury coach for an evening. This option works particularly well when the occasion takes place somewhere that’s hard to reach with public transportation.

An alternative would be to host the occasion at a venue where guests can spend the night, so party-goers can enjoy the event and not worry about how they are going to get home. Most hotels provide packages that include event planning and accommodations.

Breed loyalty

At a work Christmas party, for example, it’s great PR to provide a glass or two of wine for each employee. Staff will appreciate that the company is giving them a couple of drinks for all their hard work during the year. What is not such a good idea is an open bar at a company event, as there will be a core of people who drink too much and perhaps won’t behave appropriately. As a responsible employer, it’s your job to ensure the amount of alcohol served is under control.

Can you get it sponsored?

Since alcohol brands cannot advertise in a regular way, lots of brands are willing to pitch in with drinks for an event. Reach out to them with plenty of time in advance and have a good reason prepared as to why they should help you, and you may be surprised. Local companies are a good place to start, as they can get lots of much-needed exposure at your event.

Original Text: Jehane Newton
Edit: Jessica Bowler and Harald Meyer-Delius

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