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 downside 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:
I am a food and beverage manager at a hotel with two bars. Can you tell me some ways that we can increase our revenues? We are obviously a little bit slower lately, but is there anything that we can do to help?
The selling area of a bartender’s service is always overlooked. These selling standards are extremely important to generating higher revenues. Bartenders can come across as uncaring and unfriendly if they just approach and ask guests, “What can I get for you?” They also will not sell much more than the minimum guest order. Most hotel bars are not like bars or nightclubs that stand alone. People usually expect more from a hotel bar. The service of a bartender should be similar to that provided by servers to a table of guests that are eating. There are many selling standards that should be in place for each time a guest arrives at the bar. This includes practices such as offering your drink menu to guests whether they know what they want or not, providing a food menu, suggesting any specialty drinks, offering more beverages, and offering bar snacks. Each of these practices has its own effect and benefit on your bartender’s guest service as well as revenues. Here is a breakdown.
Controlling your beverage cost is about much more than hiring the right bartenders and being hopeful that they are honest. Whether your hotel just opened a brand new bar or has had one for many years, make sure that you have these 12 basic internal control standards in place to protect your bottom line.
1. Position the POS terminal so that customers can see transactions rung up. Most bars have the POS screen positioned towards the bar so that the bartender must turn their backs to use the register. This helps on two fronts; first, all guests can see their transactions rung up and second, it is tougher for the bartender to see who is watching him or her ring up the transaction, making it less likely that they will risk using POS manipulation. If your bar design does not allow the terminal to be placed this way, consider installing a display arm that can be positioned to face the guest similar to ones in retail stores.
2. Ensure that it is your bar’s standard to have alcohol poured first when preparing mixed beverages. Pouring the mixer into the glass before the alcohol can only mean one thing; your bartender is attempting to adjust the perceived alcoholic strength of the beverage. This is a good indicator that your bartender may be pouring less per drink to steal so that it will not throw inventory levels off.
3. Require the bartender to give a receipt after each transaction. This is one of the simplest standards to use yet many bars obviously do not require the bartender to give one. Make sure that your bartender knows that if a guest pays cash, it is not some secret code for, “I do not want a receipt.” Even if most of the guests throw the receipts away, at least your bartender gave them one and hopefully rang up the transaction. Check out our article on how bartenders split and re-present checks with the POS.