I’m planning a party for a group of 18-year-olds. What’s a good drinks plan?

How to Drink Better: Serve beer not spirits, and provide plenty of snacks to soak up the alcohol

Q: I’m planning a party for a group of 18-year-olds. What’s a good drinks plan to make sure they don’t all get sozzled and throw up?

A: A difficult one this, as many teenagers “prink” or have a few drinks before they arrive at a party. I am assuming you are a parent, so, depending on your child, why not stand behind the drinks table serving all of the guests? It is a great way to meet everyone at the party – briefly – and might dissuade some from coming back too often. Even if that isn’t possible, make sure you drop in from time to time.

As a general rule, beer, in particular, and wine are lower in alcohol than spirits. Check the percentage abv on both before you buy, though – some beers can be as high as 8-10 per cent. I would go for a craft session beer, which are usually 3-4 per cent abv. Most craft brewers make one; Wicklow Wolf Eden, Kinnegar Bucket & Spade, Dungarvan Comeragh Challenger and Dot Brew Loose are personal favourites, but there are plenty of options around.

I would also offer a mocktail too. A growing number of teenagers have decided to avoid alcohol. You don’t want them feeling left out. Make sure you have lots of water and soft drinks available too.


Cocktails are very fashionable, but if intend serving one, make sure it isn’t too alcoholic; some have a lethal combination of sweetness and alcohol that can be too easy to knock back.

Last, make sure you have plenty of snacks to soak up the alcohol from the start. It is always a good idea to provide soakage of some sort.

I hope it all goes well and that you enjoy the party too.

If you have a wine, beer or spirits question you would like John Wilson to answer, email it to John.Wilson@irishtimes.com