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Do you know everything you need to know about your bar pour costs? If you don’t, how do you know if you’re pouring for profits?

It All Comes Down to Numbers:

Now let’s look at another extremely important aspect of the business, The Numbers! Dollars and cents and profit margins. Some bartenders never think about bar costs or if they’re pouring for profits or loss. However, you are a business owner and every good business owner is always thinking about numbers.

As Stated below, the cost of liquor can vary greatly from place to place.

Cost Of The Same Bottle Of Smirnoff Red Label No. 21 750 mL Toronto, Canada = $25.95 –
United States = $13.99 –

Many places differ in what their standard pour is per drink. In Canada, many places choose a 1 Oz pour as it’s easier for accounting and easier for the patron to keep track of how much they have consumed. That’s an important factor for liability issues, but that’s another big discussion also.

Pouring For Profit – Understanding Bar Costs of Liquor:

Let’s take midrange liquor and price it out at $20 per liter bottle.

At 33.814 ounces the bottle cost is approximately .59 cents per ounce.
(By the way, I am going to stick to US dollars as well as ounces here since I am based in the US and we haven’t discovered milliliters yet).

If we go by pours, then for the purposes of this section we’ll say that the agreed standard pour for a single liquor and single mixer drink is 1.25 ounces.
This gives us 27.05 pours in a bottle at a cost of .74 cents per pour, let’s say .75 cents for sake of ease.
The standard resale of this midrange liquor is roughly $6 per standard pour. (Also varies greatly)

At this rate, the bottle will generate $24 in its first four pours, thus covering the cost of the bottle and moving into profit within the first five pours.
We still have 20.8 pours left to go, and that is all profit.

Pouring For Profit Takes Knowing The Numbers:

So, 20.8 pours X $6 = $124.8 in profit on that bottle alone.

Multiply that by 10 bottles per night and you have…
$1,248.00 in profit in a single night,
$8,736.00 in a Week,
$37,440.00 in a Month,
$455,520.00 in a Year. Not too shabby huh?!

Of course there are operating costs for every business, but as you sell bottle after you are going to realize that those operating costs are quickly covered and everything else is gravy.

Pouring For Profit Takes Planning:

Figure Out The Actual Pouring Costs In YOUR Bar. Here’s a little exercise for you.

Fill in YOUR numbers so you’ll understand how important accuracy is. Ask your manager to tell you what an ounce (“oz”) of your most popular or a mid-range liquor costs and put it in the table below. Then you do the math.

Pouring Quickly Does Absolutely Nothing If You’re Not Accurate.

The numbers can be truly staggering to your bar costs if you’re off by even just a little bit.
Fill out the chart below to see if you are actually pouring for profit or if your bar costs are too high.

If these numbers don’t represent your bar, more or fewer drinks and more or bartenders, then grab a sheet of paper and rewrite what’s below to accurately represent your bar.
Even if your numbers are lower, they will be considerable just in the waste on cost alone.
Then don’t forget that your markup is approximately 500-800% for profit.

.15 of an oz x 200 drinks per night = 30 oz wasted for a slow to avg. nightly sales ringout.

(Your avg. oz cost? _____x 30 – Oz = $______Lost 30 oz per night x 5 bartenders = 150 oz wasted.
(Your avg. oz cost? _____x 150 –oz =$______Lost 150 oz per night x 5 nights = 750 oz per Week.
(Your avg. oz cost? _____x 750 –oz =$______Lost 750 oz x 4 weeks = 3,000 oz per month.
(Your avg. oz cost? _____x 3,000 –oz = $______Lost 3,000 oz x 12 months = 36,000 oz wasted per yr.
(Your avg. oz cost? _____x 36,000 oz = $______Lost

Now here’s a bit of sobering thought. If you are intentionally or unintentionally over pouring for one guest and then short pouring later to make up the difference, you have stolen twice. The first time you stole from your bar. The second time you stole from your next guest.

Both of these are “fireable” offences in most places. It’s truly important to make sure you are staying accurate in order to remain trustworthy as an individual and as a business.
In the days of Social Media and Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews, a bar that does not provide great experiences can quickly be passed over for the next bar down the road. (More Below On Pouring For Profit)

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Pouring For Profit Continued…

Whether you take to heart the idea of bartenders taking pride in bar ownership, or you just want to go in and do your job and go home, hopefully you are taking away some very important information from this section.

Again, jigger use isn’t necessarily for every bartender at every bar. Even so, taking care of your guests so they spend money, take care of you and come back with friends and spend more money and keep your bar owner happy and the business profitable is the ultimate goal.

Whether you are free pouring on a “count” system or using any type of jigger or shot glass, Practice, practice, practice and do it regularly.
You want to deliver an excellent experience to your guests and you want to keep your managers and owner happy that they put their faith in you.

Pouring For Profit – Bar Costs: Test Bartenders Pouring Accuracy Regularly

DO It Daily, Weekly or Monthly at the very least. Your overall bar costs will thnak you because this will definitely save your bar money.
Even very experienced bartenders can over or under pour if they’re not paying attention.

This is true whether you free pour or use a jigger. I found it extremely helpful to do a very simple test of all bartenders, before shift, once per month.
This is just to give everyone a little feedback on how they’re doing.
Even a 10-minute practice pour and measure session every week before a shift is totally worthwhile.

We recommend it to all bar managers. Fill a bottle with water and set out five or six glasses on the bar mat.

Pouring For Profit Takes Practice:

Start with pouring 1 oz ( likely your most popular pour).
– Pour as quickly as you can control. This is NOT the time to go fast.
– Smooth is fast because you will be more comfortable and confident.
– You will make less mistakes and save time in the long run. Your night is a marathon not a sprint.

Go buy an “Exacto Pour” Measuring system

– It’s a series of test tubes marked for different amounts of liquid so you can practice for different amounts very easily… ¼ oz, ½ oz or up to 2 oz very accurately.

Create a grid sheet of pours ranging from ¼ oz on up to 2 oz that your bartenders must test on daily or weekly and decide on an acceptable score the bartenders must achieve in order to continue free pouring. The Exacto Pour measures accuracy within an 1/8 of an ounce.

No, you don’t pour into the little tubes for your tests.

You pour into empty glasses or tins, then, Get a small funnel to put in the test tube to make it easy to get all the liquid into the tube without spilling a drop. Use bottles filled with water and a little bit of grenadine, this helps to see and read the test tubes more easily.

At the very least, if you are testing your bartenders or as a bartender you are testing yourself, then you know that you are doing something reasonable to manage your pouring and costs. Pour and then stop and measure.

Then try 2 oz pours. Then mix them up. Different spouts pour at different rates so make sure all your bottles have the same spout. Set up a row of glasses; 10 should do it. Have each bartender Pour 1 oz in the first glass, then 2 oz in the second and repeat.

Go as fast as you feel you can be accurate.

Have five 1 oz shot glasses and five 2 oz shot glasses to pour their pours into when they have finished.
Quick and easy for everyone watching to see how accurate they were.
If someone isn’t cutting it, have them practice before they start their shift.

A great item to keep the bar staff in check.
Show them you care. Test your bartenders weekly or even daily.

An over pouring bartender can cost a bar thousands of dollars. Complete 3 tube or 7 tube systems.
If you want to know more about this subject from a management point of view Check out my good friend Robert Plotkin at .
He is an industry leader in bar management books and programs.

Excellence Is An Act Won By Training And Habituation.

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence,
but rather we have those because we have acted rightly.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle


Brad Kaplan – Bartender – Flair Bartender – Bar Trainer
Scott Young – Trainer | Speaker |Founder of: www.NightclubBarAndRestaurantTraining.Com

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