Planning a party where you are going to serve alcohol? Budget-wise, your best bet is to serve beer & wine only. Hard alcohol is expensive – ranging from $1-5 per drink or more at a restaurant venue – and can lead to embarassing “lamp shade” incidents.
After doing much shopping in town for vino, the best bang for your buck is Trader Joe’s (but stay away from 2-buck Chuck, it tastes like cheap wine)… Their wines start at $3/bottle and goes up from there. TJ’s has a great selection of wines from around the globe and changes up its selection regularly so it’s always new to your pallate (and to your guests). It’s also your best choice for budget-priced sparkling white wine (aka champagne).
More soon on glassware and the dangers of plastic – taste-wise, not health-wise. Stay tuned…
Another option is to contact any friends who you might have in the wine/alcohol industry to see if they can “hook you up” with an even better deal.
Beer: A keg is much easier on your wallet (and the environment) than bottled beer. You can put a black table cloth around the keg and have a staff person stand at the keg serving guests wine & beer – it takes some of the “Frat Kegger in IV” feeling out of it. Santa Barbara Ice Company is one of the best deals in town and carries a wide variety of inventory. They can also deliver and provide dispensers and ice for a nominal delivery fee. If you want to do bottled beer, keep an eye on your local grocery store as they often have prices per beer that beat Costco.