Owning A Bar – Bar Tending – Drink Recipes

Bar Inventory




Lots of liquor bottles

Bar Inventory


is one of the worst things to have to do in my opinion, but it needs to be done often and done correctly.
A bar owner really does need to keep track of everything coming and going. You should do inventory at least once a month. I did inventory daily (sometimes), weekly and monthly.


If I felt things were being stolen or there was a bartender over pouring I would do a daily inventory until I pinpointed who the culprit was. It is very important to know your PC. (Pouring Cost)



Point Of Sale Systems


If you can afford those awesome POS (point of sale) cash registers that do a great job keeping track of inventory, then Lucky You … that would be great. It would be very advisable to purchase them if you have a huge place. However, keep in mind even if you do have the POS Register — there is a huge learning curve with them and you will still find yourself having to do a lot of work. The machine does not do it all. Especially in a bar.  Unfortunately, not everyone can afford that fancy POS system. If that is the case and your wallet doesn’t yet allow for such luxuries … then you have to do inventory the more time consuming way. “OWWWW YUK” you say — Not to worry — there are many ways of tracking inventory.  All you need is a good  system to help it go a lot easier.  Maybe a helper or two also. That was nice when I had a helper or sometimes more than one helper. You don’t want to many helpers though … then people just get in the way. I preferred to do the heavy duty inventory when the  bar was closed and I usually did a lot of cleaning while doing inventory. For instance, cleaning out the beer coolers etc. They can get nasty if you don’t clean them on a regular basis. When the bar is open, you can do some inventory, but believe me it is a lot easier to do when there isn’t a bunch of people around.


If You Absolutely Hate Doing Inventory


there are companies that can do your inventory for you … BUT to me that is such a waste of money. Just get off your DUFF and start counting!  Get yourself a couple of good programs like Quickbooks to enter all of your information into. Inventory isn’t really that bad, if you keep up with it. Obviously,  the more product you have the longer it takes to count and recount all that stuff, but it is all worth it when you know how good or not so good your business is doing.

Another good program that comes in handy is Microsoft Excel — and you do not necessarily need the newest one out there. Excel is perfect for helping with figuring the Price your drinks should be. It is also great for figuring out what your Pour Cost is. (PC)

I used Quickbooks and Excel on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, pencil and paper and a calculator will work too — it will just take a while longer to get things done. Heck all I know — there might be even more modern ways to do things. The world of technology and all of its high tech stuff just keeps getting better and better. Amazing isn’t it? The downfall to all the new techy stuff is you have to learn how to use it. Not one of my more favorite ways to spend my precious time.


After Crunching Your Numbers


you find the inventory turned out good, then no worries. But — if those numbers come out bad, then you know you have a problem and your money is going down the drain. When things are not looking so good and you have a bunch of booze or beer missing or maybe t-shirts that you just paid a fortune for. Maybe an employee helped themselves to some snacks (took them home?) like hot dogs and hamburgers or chips that you had for the customers while they watch football games or car races or whatever. Listen — that is all money that is lost to you. So now you get to keep an eye out and find out who is messing up. Only takes one person stealing from you to really hurt the business. Keep that in mind. Just one day of one employee taking or giving your stuff away, can hurt real bad. It will hurt you and put a huge dent in your wallet.


A Word Of Advice


the more you have that is under lock and key and not accessible to employees and customers the better off you are! It just amazes me how stuff can just walk out the door and NOBODY has any idea how that could happen. Must have been that bar ghost again — huh ??? !!!! There is a bunch of different ways an employee or some dishonest customers can rip you off. Oh I cannot tell you how angry this would make me. It didn’t happen often — but when it did — It just infuriated me to NO END !!! What can I say — the world isn’t full of perfect people — but then again most of my employees and customers were fantastic!!!


Dishonest Vendors and/or Delivery Guys


You must watch every delivery carefully as some delivery guys will steal you blind. This is unfortunate, but it does happen. How pathetic – huh? So be SURE to take your time and count all product coming in — delivery drivers will want to rush you through this. Not all the delivery guys, but a good portion of them. Well to bad for them … you need to make sure every item you bought and paid for is there !!! Trust me you will find tons of mistakes. Broken items, missing items, things you did not order etc. etc. etc. — that list goes on and on and on. If you cannot be there for all deliveries, make sure that your employees know the rules to counting all product coming in.


It Would Be Nice If You Could Be There All The Time


and know exactly what is going on every second of everyday that your bar is open. That is pretty much impossible, unless you have absolutely NO life. However, if you can hire a trust worthy manager, that is all the better.

If you decide you can afford to hire a manager, please run a background check.

Better to be safe than sorry !!!


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12 Responses to Bar Inventory

  • I do buy one get one beers for specials and ring in the free drinks on a seperate tab to keep track. Should i ring them in at full price and do a 100 percent comp on the freebie tab or make special buttons that ring in the beers for zero dollars. Does it matter?

    • Hi Mac
      This all depends on what you want — in some places it is illegal to give away a drink – which I think is ridiculous — just my opinion. Anyway so depending on your laws where you are – is how you should ring things. Other than that, I would definitely keep the freebies on a separate key and ring as 0 or comp at a 100 percent. It really is up to you and whatever is easiest for you.
      Take Care,

  • Hi,
    I stumbled on your site, by looking up bar inventory apps. I recently took over a bar’s accounting and bookkeeping! One of my tasks is to get the inventory calculations and procedure in a better state, then emergency! LOL!!
    If there are any excel spreadsheets that you have available and have used in the past would be helpful. They have basically, just been counting bottles, and really not doing anything with the information! I get the basic idea, but am under the gun for success!
    Where to start would be totally helpful, if not all good, but HELP…LOL!!

  • hi I would like to know if you can e-mail me because I’m trying to open a bar in my home town and I need advice and cant seem to get my pricing right at all HELP!! :/

  • Hi Jack,
    My business sells 33 kinds of beer all in bottles. Our inventory is always off, but the weird part is we are often over even though the customers are still getting their beer? Friday our inventory showed 22 bottles over not to mention some beers were rung up as other beers. Any idea why we are over in beer? Our counter swears she’s doing it right.

    • Hi Doug
      OK there could be several reasons for this. The obvious one is the person doing the inventory isn’t counting correctly. You say she swears she is counting correctly. You should always have two people counting, so they can each count and compare.
      Do you have all 33 brands of beers on a different keys on your register?
      Is there someone that counts the beer when it is delivered? Delivery guys make mistakes all the time. Maybe extra case was brought in, or a case was given to you for a promotion?
      Bartenders ringing to many beers.(Overcharging the customers – Getting the money but not giving out the beers?) Maybe to fast on register and extra beers were rung?
      All I know is I would definitely start with the correct count, and really pay attention. Do a daily count for awhile to see how it comes out. If you are continually over, then that is not good either. It tells me that the customer is possibly being stolen from.
      Do you keep good records of what you have given away?

      I am thinking that maybe bartenders are marking down beers they gave away, when in fact they never gave away anything — bartenders tend to do that, to fix the inventory from other things they have stolen or drank or whatever.
      Also are the banks of the bartenders short or over very often?
      OK I hope this helps, I know I will think of several other things it could be, but maybe this will help for now. Let us know if you figure it out. Would be interested in why this is happening.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the great question.
      Take Care,

  • I am planning on opening a bar in the next 18- 24 months and I have been watching shows that feature bars that are struggling. In these shows the host helps the owners to change their concept and make the business more profitable. On the show Bar Rescue on Spike TV I learned about an app that can help you with inventory called Partender. You use the camera on a tablet to measure the amount of alcohol in a bottle and they do the rest. It is something to think about that will help a great deal with inventory and pouring costs.

    • Hi Larissa
      Thank You for sharing this. I watch that show when I get a chance — I was told that they are going to be doing a show on a bar/restaurant here where I live in San Diego. Not sure when but that is awesome. The Partender App sounds great, if it doesn’t cost a bunch of money. If it is super expensive, it is free to learn how to do your own inventory and it really isn’t hard.
      Thanks again for letting us know about this, it sounds interesting.
      Take Care,

  • we are going to construct a bar in our restaurant, and I need to get handle on cost and how to plan it.

  • how should I properly price out a keg of beer? it it costs me $80 for a 1/6 barrel do I price my beer based on $80 or should I add in the $45 deposit and base my cost on $125?

    • Hi Jack
      Thanks for the question. You price out the keg for the $80. The deposit is just for returning the Keg so it basically just rotates every time you get another one.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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