Ask TrueGuest: Best Methods for Pouring Alcohol

Logo_Mark-Five_Diamond_HospitalityDear TrueGuest,

I can’t seem to get our liquor costs under budget.  What is the best control for measuring the bartender’s pours?

Good question!  There are a few different methods for pouring alcohol such as free pour, jigger, or measured spout.  Which one works best depends on your bar.

Typical lobby lounge – If your bar is typically slow, usually a measured jigger works best.  Just be sure to have plenty of jiggers on hand so the bartender always has one within reach.  We like the measured jigger because it is easy for your supervisors to monitor from across the bar.  Also, customers are accepting of a jigger in most cases.  Of course, the down side is that it is easy for the bartender to overpour using the jigger.  Most bartenders we see using a jigger like to run a tail with each pour.  Here is a good video on basic jigger techniques:

High volume bar – If your bar gets pretty busy and the bartenders need to crank out drinks fast, we like the measured spout.  The ball bearings in the spout automatically pour the exact amount and then stop.  The bartender would have to tilt the bottle back a second time to be able to overpour with these spouts.  Here is a good video of how the Precision Pours work:

Free Pouring Method – We really do not like any bars to use the free pour method.  It is both dangerous to your profits and to your customers.  Our mystery shoppers have reported time after time instances where they were poured a drink that had over 4 ounces of alcohol when a bartender free poured.  You can easily see how pouring 3 times the correct amount can be very dangerous.  But if you must free pour, at least have a good counting system in place and a system to test the bartender’s pouring skills.  Here is a good video:

Banquet Bar Requisition Template and Instructions

Click here to download our free Banquet Bar Requisition Template

To download these instructions in PDF format, click here

Logo_Mark-Five_Diamond_HospitalityInstructions for using the TrueGuest Banquet Bar Requisition Worksheet To set up the file:

1. Create a new file for each event. You can either create a new file for each month or add each month to a separate tab within this worksheet.

2. Input the details of the event at the top of the spreadsheet. Only fill in the cells that are in blue!

After you requisition the liquor to banquets:

1. Fill in the amount that you requisitioned in the column labeled ‘requisitioned’.

2. Again, only fill in the cells in blue.

3. Add additional rows for additional types of liquor not listed.

After the event and banquets returns the unused alcohol:

1. Fill in the amount that is returned in the column labeled ‘returned’

2. Again, only fill in the cells in blue.

To view your cost for the event:

1. Input the amount of revenue you collected for the event at the very top of the spreadsheet.

2. Your cost for the event will be displayed right below your revenues.

3. Send a copy of the worksheet to accounting so they can transfer the amount to banquets.

 

To download these instructions in PDF format, click here

Finally, Some Solutions to Control Your Banquet Bars… and Increase Sales!

micros1_fullWe often gets calls from hotels whose banquet bars are out of control. Whether the liquor pour cost is high, the employees are stealing cash or clients have complained about being overcharged on a host bar, the main culprit is usually a poor system for recording sales.

While our hotels all have the most advanced property management systems at the front desk and the most advanced point of sales systems in our restaurants and bars, our banquet bars have cheap cash registers purchased from Costco! Or worse yet, the old adding machine tape next to the cash drawer!

Finally, technology has caught up with the demand. Most hotels use the MICROS 3700 or the MICROS 9700 point of sale system in their restaurant and bars. Now it is very easy to add on an affordable, portable terminal and put in the same controls in your banquet bar as you have in your restaurant bar. The terminal runs on wireless internet and connects to your existing point of sales system so it is ultra portable. All that it needs is power. Depending on the size of your hotel’s banquet space, most hotels can get by with only one or two terminals.

How will adding a point of sales system to your banquet bar increase sales?

1. Your hotel will now be able to accept credit cards at a banquet event. People tend to spend much more money at a place (especially a bar) when using a credit card.

2. Many people at a business event will not purchase drinks unless they can use a company credit card and get a receipt. If you have ever attended an HFTP event, you have been in line behind a group of Controllers that want to pay with a company credit card and need a receipt for the expense report!

3. You will greatly reduce your risk of employee theft. You may be losing 20 percent of your revenues to theft right now. With a POS, the bartenders will have to ring up each item and present a receipt. More of the hotel’s money will make it into the register instead of ‘accidentally’ going into the tip jar.

If you have installed a Point of Sales System in the last few years or are planning to install one in the future, be sure to consider incorporating a banquet bar terminal. It will pay for itself in no time!

Cocktail Server Internal Controls

drink trayWith all the focus on good bartender practices and internal controls, what about those “other” employees? All good practices should extend to anyone who has the words, “Serve Alcoholic Beverages”, in their job description. With cocktail servers so prevalent and necessary to provide good service in lounges everywhere, cocktail servers should be held to the same standards as all bartenders. The temptation and the opportunities for a cocktail server to steal are enormous because they work independently and self bank. Dishonest cocktail servers use a variety of methods to take advantage of their situations.

These methods can include:

Short-Changing – Stealing by not returning proper change to a guest. This happens as the guest can become less attentive as they become more intoxicated.

Overcharging – Charging more than necessary for a certain drink and stealing the difference. This usually happens when guests have no intention of seeing a receipt and the server quotes the drink price to them.

Substitutions – Charging for a requested premium liquor, but ordering a well brand from the bartender.

Representing Checks – Presenting the same check to two separate guests/transactions with the same order, then pocketing the cash from one or both transactions.

Fake Walk-Outs – Alleging that a party walked out, but pocketing the cash instead.

Altering Checks – Voiding or adding to checks. Usually goes hand in hand with representing checks.

With the following controls in place, you will curb the chance that your cocktail servers have to steal.

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