The Basics Of Running A Club (Paying for Stuff)

Let’s get real for a minute. If it didn’t cost anything, everyone who likes whiskey would have a full shelf of premium bourbon and the gear to go with it. You might have noticed though, most people don’t have a shaker, ice sphere molds, pouring spouts, and all the other stuff just laying around their home bar. So, how do you fund a club?

There are many ways to do this, but if you’re a dad supporting his kids like I am you can’t just throw hundreds of dollars at a hobby. I have friends who love to do this meeting with me, and they donate every month.

The cost

 I try to make sure we have at least 2 bottles valued more than $45 if possible. That’s a $90 price tag, which if you have 5 members (including you) gets you 2 bottles at $20 per person and $10 for something to grill afterward. Honestly, that’s a solid value. If you go to a bar in most places, you’ll pay around that but the bartender wont let you go back for you next drink free or feed you. That’s why I charge $20 per person. Your cost may be different based on where you are, and this isn’t a hard and fast number to live by. It’s a good place to start where I am.

Specialty Events

There are specialty events such as the cocktail event. Because these are events where I use lower-quality whiskey, I only charge $15.

There are also some friends who really want to come but bringing a wife, boyfriend, or other is too much and they can’t come. Doing a plus 1 free or discounted for $10 isn’t going to kill you. Keep the goal in mind of having fun with your friends. You don’t want to go into debt setting up a super fun event for your friends every month, but it’s also not fun if your friends can’t show up.

How many people can you fit in your house? No, seriously...

How many people can you fit into your house??? I found out by trial and error that 10 is the most people I can accommodate. Make your club first-come-first-serve and do not over-serve. Also, if everyone has a full shot from a bottle (750 Ml) you can serve 16 people.

buy-ins are due

Take a lesson from me, please. Buy in is due the Wednesday before club happens. The day of our second club I had 5 people say, “sorry, I drank too much and I can’t make it.” I did not collect buy in before hand, but I did buy whiskey under the assumption that I had a $200 budget. I spent $100 more than I thought I had, and that sucked. Collect your buy ins before you buy the whiskey, and let your friends know that if they don’t plan ahead they’re welcome to buy in to next month’s club, but they can’t come to this one. It’s not fair to you.

how often do we meet?

It doesn’t matter. Figure out how often people are willing to buy in and do it that often. We do our meeting the last Sunday of every month at 1:00 pm. You would think, “After almost 2 years people would remember that.” But, they don’t. You still have to remind everyone a week ahead, 5 days ahead on buy in day, 3 days ahead when they make weekend plans, and an hour ahead to make sure they wake up and show up. If you got your buy ins, worst case scenario you got to try whiskey some great whiskey without paying for great whiskey.

What if i have money left over?

This isn’t a business, and your goal shouldn’t be to make money. If you have money left over, put it toward a bottle next month. Better yet, buy ingredients and grill some food for your friends after the tasting is over. If you don’t know how to make food, invite a friend who does and supply the ingredients.


My policy is, no refunds for the same reason I don’t normally allow late entries. At the same time, if you have a friend in need use your discretion. A good friendship is always worth more than the $20 a friend gave you before an emergency came up. The problem you will run in to is that you’re going to end up with 5 people who text you right before club starts that they stayed up late and they’re too hungover to show up. 5 people at $20 a pop is $100. If you can afford to eat the cost that’s up to you, but it’s really not fair to you to pay for something with the intention of sharing it and have the other end of the bargain not held up.

Final Thoughts

Every group is different, costs are different everywhere, and you may want to run it differently. That’s totally fine. Use your best judgement. Again, the goal is to have fun. Money is an easy thing to have a stupid disagreement about, and setting some boundaries can help you avoid that. Be clear, honest, and empathetic when dealing with money. 

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