1. Embrace the Punch Bowl
"Delicious big-batch drinks are becoming more popular, and for good reason. Punches can be made ahead of time, so bar service moves faster, and the bowls they're displayed in can be beautiful. They also help cut costs because you can use less-expensive liquors when you're mixing. For a gin-based punch, for example, go with Gordon's London Dry, Beefeater, or Bombay Regular. Once you add juices and other flavors, you're not going to really taste the spirit much anyway."
2. Set Out Pitchers
"Similarly, anything served from a pitcher is a time-saver. A Collins cocktail is a good bet—it's just gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, and seltzer. Add an extra element like tea, and you have something more interesting. Then garnish with a few different herbs and fruits to make the pitchers look even more enticing sitting on tables."
3. Create Your Own Blend
"If you want to serve something stirred where the booze is prominent, such as a Tattletale [scotch, honey, bitters], buy the best scotch you can afford and mix it with a blended one. If you're aiming to serve 100 people three drinks apiece, add two parts top-shelf to one part blended, and you'll need about 20 bottles of the good stuff instead of 30, without tasting the difference."
4. Go Old School
"Hand-cut ice, well-crafted cocktails, brown spirits like whiskey—all have seen an uptick as people want that Mad Men cocktail-culture experience. For instance, many women's go-to drink now is the Old-Fashioned or Manhattan. With that in mind, offer classics that feel season-appropriate, like a refreshing Cobbler in warm weather, or a spicy Buck cocktail—which is basically your spirit of choice plus ginger beer—on a cool fall evening."