The importance of portioning liquor drinks at your bar consistently: As owner of a liquor inventory company, one of things that is a constant surprise to me when we start working with new clients is how poor their bartenders are at using speed pourers to accurately and consistently measure product into a cocktail glass. A typical bar pours hundreds of liquor drinks each week and it’s therefore important from a business perspective that your bartenders all pour a consistent quantity of product into the cocktails they serve: Drinks that vary in their strength also vary in how much they cost. If you are in the business of making money by selling cocktails, it’s important that drinks are poured consistently so that you can price your drinks appropriately. Correct portioning also affects the taste and therefore customer experience: If one bartender pours heavy, his or her drinks will taste one way but if another bartender pours their liquor drinks differently one set of your customers is likely to not be happy. If all of your bartenders do a good job of consistently measuring out an ounce and a half of product for each cocktail (or whatever the standard pour size is at your bar), your customers will be happier and your bar will make more money in the process.
A common explanation you will hear from bartenders (and sometimes owners) is that “we pour a little heavier for the regulars”. While there is certainly some value to this, in terms of happy regulars, my contention would be that the practice causes more harm than good as you quickly slide into a situation where there’s no established ‘correct’ way to pour a drink. When your employees have free reign to pour how they want, it’s not surprising that they tend to pour heavier than what is ideal from a profit perspective. In our opinion a better way to please your regulars is to pour their drinks consistently, but then buy them a free round once in a while. That free drink will tend to get noticed more than a heavy hand and will therefore be more valuable for your business. Also, by ringing the drink in and then comping it, it’s easy to track how many drinks are being given away. Another sideline benefit is that when a drink is comped and the discount shows on the regular’s check, that regulars will be significantly more likely to tip on the full value of the drinks they had.
There is one other cost of overpouring individual drinks which is worth mentioning: If you pour each drink heavier you will sell less drinks overall since customers will catch that buzz sooner. While the size of this effect is difficult to measure, you can be sure that overpouring drinks will hurt your bottom line in terms of lost retail sales. If I’ve managed to convince you of the importance of carefully portioning drinks at your bar, be sure to check back for my next post about the best way to train to bartenders to pour this way (it’ll cost you $50 and a little training effort).
Video - Liquor Inventory Systems