How Many Cases of Drinks to Buy?

How Many Cases of Drinks to Buy

Trying to figure out how many cases of Drinks to buy for your Fundraiser is certainly a huge task to take on – You don’t want too little, and don’t want too much! On average, each guest may drink 2 to 4 drinks, so you can use this number to judge how many drinks to buy.  All of our rolls of Drink Tickets come in rolls of 1000.  We will estimate that 40% of them are beer drinkers, 40% of them are mixed drink drinkers, and 20% of them are non-alcoholic drinkers (pop/water) – so let’s say 10% will just drink pop, and 10% will just drink water.

Knowing this will also help you decide how many cups to purchase. Does that help? Of course, this is just a guide and you will know your crowd the best. We strongly advise you to buy MORE than you need, as things are fairly easy to return. Just advise your bartenders NOT to open up everything in the bar, and only open the case when its ready to use.

The Formula

So we have a formula for you! Just follow this formula, and it will help guide you to decide how many drinks to purchase ahead of time. Some people will have 6 drinks, others will have 1. We are using an estimate of 3 per person to simplify things, and encourage you to do the same.


Take the number of people expected to come x 0.4 (40% of guests drink beer) x 3 (3 drinks per person) / 24 (number of beers per case) = number of cases of 24 beers to buy. If you are using 3 kinds of beer, take that number and divide it buy 3 so you know how many of each brand of beer to buy (assuming you think people will drink all equally). Change this to 28 if you buy cases of 28.

Hard Liquor

Take the number of people expected to come x 0.4 (40% of guests drink beer) x 3 (3 drinks per person) = number of people who will have mixed drinks. Give this number to the LCBO and they will advise you how many bottles of each to get – they are the experts in this area!

Mixers for Hard Liquor

Take number above and divide by the number of mixers you want (usually gingerale, coke, cranberry juice, orange juice) assuming you think it will be equal amounts. So in this case you would divide that number by 4, and this will tell you how many people will be drinking each type of mixer. We will call this “X”. Then look at how many millilitres of mixer would be added to each cup, and multiply that by X, then divide that by how many millilitres are in each bottle/carton. This will tell you how many bottles or cartons to buy of EACH mixer.


Take the number of people expected to come x 0.1 (10% of guests will drink pop only) x 3(3 drinks per person) = number of cans to buy for people just drinking pop. If you have 3 types of pop, then take that number and divide by 3 and this will tell you how many people will be drinking each kind of pop. Remember to add this number to whatever you got from the previous calculation.


Take the number of people expected to come x 0.1 (10% of guests will drink water bottles only) x 3(3 drinks per person) = number of bottles to buy for people just drinking pop. Take this number and divide it by how many bottles are in a case, and that is how many cases of water you should buy. We think Costco sells them in cases of 30 which is the best bang for your buck!

Buy Extra!

Isn’t math fun?! Confused? Don’t be! It is fairly straight forward, just get your calculator out and take good notes. Now whatever you just learned in this above example, add a few on of each!! If you buy too much, just keep your receipts and return the extra pop cases you bought, or juice cartons you bought. Just ensure that they are still sealed. The LCBO and Beer Store will allow returns under some conditions. The AGCO Website says:

When returning unopened alcohol purchased from a government store, you must produce the permit and a copy of your payment records (e.g. receipts and/or invoices). Check with the retailer at which you purchased the alcohol for further details.

Typically, The Beer Store will allow up to 20% of the beer you purchased to be returned, as long as it is a perforated case (not glued), you have your Special Occasions Permit with you, the seals of the case are not broken, and it is a full case that is unopened. The LCBO will allow returns as long as you have your receipt and it can be a saleable item again (not used).

Also one quick note, is we recommend to have a table near the bar off to the side, which has plastic cups and a jug of water.  That way the bartender won’t be overwhelmed with orders like this, when people can just do this themselves!  Shortens the line a bit and gives them a break.  All you have to do is put someone on water duty to ensure it is always full!

Should I run my Own Bar? Or get the Hall to run the Bar?

When you choose a hall, they may have a bartender who manages their own sale of drinks, or they may allow you to bring in your own drinks and serve it.   We would say that for a Fundraiser, people do tend to run their own bars.  If your event is more of a Birthday party for example where you have staff waiting on you, entertainment paid for, etc., then have the hall also take care of this.  But at Fundraisers, it is common to see the volunteers running around like a chicken with their heads cut off, because the whole point is to make money, and therefore do things yourself!  You gotta put in the man hours to see the payoff.  Below we will break it down for you, so that you can decide which option suits you best.

Hall Runs Bar

Let us assume that the hall is running the bar, and they charge $4 per drink.  You can charge $5 per drink, so that you still make $1 off each beer sold. In most cases the hall runs the bar, so make sure they have a good variety of alcohol in stock. Generally, the hall rental will be much cheaper if they supply the alcohol since this will create more income for the hall.  This can save you a ton of headaches as you do not have to worry about purchasing the alcohol in advance, transporting it there, finding people to run the bar with you, ensure they have their Smart Serve, etc.

You Run your Own Bar

If you run your bar instead and charged $5 per drink, the profit is much higher as the beer probably only cost you $2 from the case – however like we mentioned, there is a lot more to it!  You have to take into account the cost of straws, beer cups, ice, bartenders, Permit to sell alcohol, etc. Running your own bar will include more work and more initial investment, not to mention liabilities. Make sure that you aware of your city by-laws as well. Have someone you trust serve the drinks who is Smart Served, or you can have a buddy obtain their Smart Serve Certification online for $34.95+tax.

So What does Jack of all Spades Recommend?

Should I run my own bar or get the hall to run the bar?  Such a common question we get!  If you are expecting a drinking crowd, then you will want to run the bar yourself as the profits are enticing.  But if you don’t want the hassle and money might not be your driving force, then have the bar run it on your behalf.  Your choice!

Here is a a quote from a spokesperson representing the AGCO (Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario) from this article:

“If someone wants to have a party, the private event [Special Occasions Permit] allows them to serve alcohol at a location where there is no permit.  …Alcohol can be sold, but not to make a profit, or it can be served at no charge. Because the event is private, it cannot be advertised. …If the facility does have a permit …the event may be advertised, and alcohol may be sold at a profit since it’s being served by trained staff.”

In this article, she was also quoted saying:

A public event with a special occasion permit, often run by a charity, not for profit organization or religious group, can advertise and profit from the sale of alcohol, with the intent of putting the proceeds back into the community for projects or programs. However, a buck and doe falls under the category of private event, where no advertising is allowed and alcohol isn’t meant to be a money maker.

We have heard some say that the AGCO recommends that when it comes to alcohol sales, permit holders can’t make a profit.  Instead, permit holders will have to come up with an expense sheet outlining how their alcohol revenue will ONLY cover their expenses.

How Much Should I Sell Drink Tickets for?

You should sell Drink Tickets for around the $4 or $5 mark, but it really does depend on which city you are in.  You see, in the Niagara region, they tend to price things cheaper and you might even see $3.50 drinks.  The closer to Burlington, the prices will be around $5 or even $6.  Head over to Toronto and you can expect prices closer to $7 or $8.  If you run your own bar or if the hall runs the bar might also dictate your prices so that you are still making a profit.

Also, remember that you cannot discount drinks – so you cannot offer $5 per drink or two drinks for $8 as an example.  It is illegal!  So if they are part of a package, you can discount the package if offering raffle tickets or game tickets, but you cannot discount the drink ticket part.


Choose 2-4 types of beer – that is it!  People will always find a beer they like based on the choices you offer.  Nobody is going to listen to the beer choices, and say “no thank you – you don’t have my brand”.  They will be fine!  Make all beers the same price, and don’t have premium beers if this is a fundraiser. Keep it simple!  So we suggest around $4 if you are Niagara areas, or $5 if in the Grimsby/Stoney Creek/Hamilton areas.  Burlington you might want to go up to $5 or $6.  Use the Beer Ticket for this one – and if you decide to have premium beers despite our recommendation, then choose 2 colours of Beer Tickets to distinguish them.


Some people might want to do shots, but again keep it simple!  Have 3-4 hard liquor options available (vodka, rye, rum) and don’t worry about tequila or speciality shots.  Keep this price the same as the Beer price to again keep things simple.  Use the Liquor Ticket for this one.


Don’t sell coolers or ciders at your Fundraiser!  Sorry, were we too blunt there?!  These are fantastic for people attending a Fundraiser, as people like options.  But Coolers are pricey, and then you have to charge more for these.  If you charge the same price for a Cooler as you do for a Beer, then you will be out profit wise.  They are a fun option, but your profit margin is drastically decreased.  Plus if you do insist on having these and end up charging more for a Cooler than you do for a Beer or Mixed Drink, then you have to have a different coloured Liquor Ticket, and this can just confuse things.  Just stay away from these altogether.

Jello Shooters / Pudding Shots / Drunken Gummy Bears

You can sell these at the bar, but probably what is most profitable for you, would be to have some pretty girls walking from table to table selling these.  I know that is totally sexist to say, but you know we are right.  Have 2 flavours to choose from – most people charge $1 but some charge $2 especially if they are a bit bigger of a cup.  These you usually just sell with money rather than getting a special ticket for them, but if you have set up to use tickets, then use a Refreshment Ticket.

Pop / Juice / Water Bottle

We suggest that you have 2 types of pop and 2 types of juices – something like gingerale, coke, cranberry juice, and orange juice.  These make for great mixers!  You would use a Refreshment Ticket for these, and we recommend only selling them for $2 each can.  Water bottles can also use the same Refreshment Ticket.  If you need to charge different prices for these, then use different colours of the Refreshment Tickets, but as always we encourage you to keep things simple and of the same price.

What is a Special Occasions Permit (SOP)?

What is a Special Occasions Permit

You need one of these before you can even consider holding an event that sells alcohol!  Be sure to visit the AGCO Website as well as check with the hall to make sure you are following all of their rules too, as you don’t want to have any future issues due to a misunderstanding.  Special Occasions Permit or SOP seems complicated at first, but we assure you they are not! Also know that the advice we give in this article, are based on what we knew at the time of writing this. The AGCO can at any time review and rewrite their policies so this is just a guideline.

Not sure which kind of SOP to get?  See THIS PAGE for a quick summary. If you are having a Stag & Doe, you are having a Private Event and get a Sale Permit.

The AGCO is full of information, and they put together this 1 minute video if you want to really understand the process!

Click HERE to apply for your Permit


One other thing that the AGCO has done for you, is put together a Tip Sheet May 2017 that should make things pretty clear for you and answer any legality questions:




Private or Public SOP (Special Occasions Permit)?

What Kind of Special Occasions Permit do I need for  my Fundraiser

Do you need a “Private”, “Public” or “Industrial” Special Occasions Permit (also known as a SOP)? Did you need a “Sale Permit” or a “No Sale Permit”? Decisions, decisions! We will break it down for you below.

A “Private Event” with a “Sale Permit” is what most of our customers end up getting for Stag & Doe’s and Fundraisers, which will cost you $150 per day.

The Permit Holder has some responsibilities: They must be present the whole event and be responsible for safety and sobriety of guests, as well as ensure that the event is run properly and in compliance with the Liquor License Act.

We are only going to talk about Private and Public Events on this page, but scroll down to see the AGCO’s tip sheet for more info on the 3 Types of Permits available.

Private Event

  • Meant for Stag & Doe’s and smaller events
  • You can only have invited guests (have a guest list)
  • There can be no intention to profit from the sale of alcohol at the event
  • You CANNOT advertise the event publicly
  • You CAN advertise through social media which is not available for viewing by general public
  • There can be no unlawful gambling
  • If indoor, must submit application at least 10 days prior. If outdoor it is 30 days prior
  • This is a great article to read: CLICK HERE as it explains in more detail what the AGCO recommends for a Private Event

Public Event

  • Meant for a Charitable Organization or Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • Raise funds for charitable purposes (education, religion, relief of poverty, community, etc)
  • You are allowed to publicly advertise
  • You can offer alcohol as a prize if there is a lottery license issued to you
  • Must submit application at least 30 days prior if indoor or outdoor

Sale Permit

  • The cost is $150 per day
  • Required when there is an admission charge for the event
  • Alcohol is a cash bar, or people buy tickets to get drinks

No Sale Permit

  • The cost is $35 per day
  • Alcohol is served but is free
  • No money is collected for alcohol
  • Permit holder absorbs all costs related to alcohol

If you still want more clarification, read the AGCO’s Tip Sheet below. Otherwise, time to get started and fill out their application! CLICK HERE to get started.