Alcohol is a key feature in many socials. Depending on the venue you choose, you may or may not be responsible for the management of alcohol at your event. If your event is at a bar, the venue will manage the liquor permit, ordering, and serving of alcohol, and you will not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of alcohol. If your event is at a location like a community center or hall, you may be responsible for all of these things, but you will also make money off of the sale of alcohol.
Profit and drink prices
Most of the profit from running a social comes from the raffle. Socials are seen as a cheap and fun alternative to going to a bar. It is often easier to make money at a social by providing cheaper drinks and encouraging people to participate in the raffles.
Drink prices at socials vary, but $2.50 or $3 per drink is common. The brands and types of alcohol supplied at most socials are be the cheaper brands, so even though the drink prices are well below normal drink prices at a bar, you will still make some profit. One of the benefits of pricing your drinks at $2.50 is that people will frequently buy two drinks, which comes to $5 and requires no change. This simplifies many of the transactions at the ticket table and makes for shorter lines.
Sometimes socials will also have a "premium" type drink ticket for more expensive brands of alcohol, though this is rare.
Permits, rules, and your responsibilities
Regulations regarding the alcohol and raffles at your event are managed by the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba. Your event will require a permit, and your responsibilities as a permit holder are listed online, on the LGA's Social Occasion Permit page.
Always verify your responsibilities as per your permit. The regulations surrounding both the alcohol and raffles at socials changed in April of 2014.
The LGA's Social Occasion Permit page is the source for information such as:
- Are minors allowed at my event?
- Am I allowed to advertise my event?
- How do I apply for a permit?
- What are minimum drink prices?
- Do I have to serve food at my event?
- How much alcohol am I allowed to order for my event?
Type and quantity of alcohol
Socials typically stock a few brands of beer, and a limited selection of hard alcohols, such as dark rum, white rum, vodka and rye.
Staff at your local Liquor Mart are able to advise you on common brands and typical quantities of alcohol for your event.
In addition to supplying hard alcohol, you will need to supply non-alcoholic mix, such as pop, fruit juice, and/or clamato juice.
Some venues will supply a fountain drink machine with the cost of the hall, or may offer to rent it to you for an additional fee. You also have the option to rent a machine from a party supply rental store, or to purchase a large quantity of two litre bottles of pop.
It is common practice to supply unlimited mix to guests.
At the event
Most socials will have one or more tables near the entrance. At the first table the guests will have their event tickets taken or torn, and their hands will be stamped or they will be given a wristband. This is a good time to differentiate between adults and minors, and for your helpers to request identification if it is not clear if the guest is of age. Minors should receive a different hand stamp or wristband to indicate to your bartender that they are underage. At the second table your guests can purchase drink or raffle tickets.
Events that are held in bars will likely not allow minors on the premises. If your event allows minors, you are responsible to make sure they are not allowed access to alcohol.
Encourage your guests to use designated drivers, have information available about taxi and similar services posted on all exit doors. As the organizer, you are responsible for the effects of the alcohol you provide. Find one or two of your helpers to volunteer to be designated drivers in case they are needed. Make sure your guests get home safe.
Operation Red Nose
Check if your social will be within the operating dates of Operation Red Nose. It's a free service run by volunteers during the Christmas season. Volunteers will arrive and drive inebriated guests home in their own vehicles.
Phone numbers for some of Winnipeg's taxi services: