Owning A Bar – Bar Tending – Drink Recipes

Bar Owners – Owning A Bar



After owning a bar for a little over 10 years,


and bar tending/managing for many years prior to that, I think you may get some great ideas from me. There was so much I loved about bar tending and owning a bar — but then again, there were different things that I hated. So maybe this site will make things a bit better and easier for you. Hopefully some of the things I learned and pass on to you, will help you immensely in your job or business.


Bar Owning


is fun but it can also get pretty hectic and stressful. There is so much you should know before you get yourself into a huge mess. Don’t worry though, I’ve got your back. I have tons of advice and stuff that will help you to run your bar efficiently and with much success. Making the BIG BUCKS !!!


On this website you will find a bunch of paperwork

that I made and used on a daily basis, also Excel spreadsheets and ideas on how to set up your cash registers. Then I have so many ideas and more drink recipes than you or your bartenders will ever need


Believe me, the more you know the better off you are.


The more organized you are makes life much easier while you are trying to run a bar and keep track of everything coming and going. I know alot of tricks of the trade as they say. If you are a bar owner in the United States, the IRS doesn’t mess around. They want their money, a nice chunk of your income. (Damn, that subject just gets me all fired up … TAXES — Grrrrrrrrrr !!!! Ok don’t get me started !!!!) Believe me they will audit you, so you definitely want everything in order. Then many states have huge sales taxes also. This is not counting EDD, or Workmen’s Compensation and all the other BS bills.


It took me time to recognize what monies I should spend and where I was wasting cash in a big way.


If you really want to own a bar


then this is a great site for you to get some solid information and ideas. I am sure that there will be plenty here for you to ponder over. You will find this site very informative, but please be sure to learn all the laws where your bar is or will be. Every state and country is different. I can’t give advice on liquor laws where you are.  However, I do know how nerve-wracking it can be to buy a bar and then wondering where to start? How do I pack the bar full of good paying customers. How will I draw them in?  Where will the best sales come from.  What kind of booze do I buy.  How much should I buy? The questions you will have will go on and on. Where do I find those great bartenders with the awesome personalities and perfect work ethics?


Search through the many topics


on this site, and I am sure you will find so much help. I was there, I know a bunch. I didn’t own a huge fancy cocktail lounge, I owned a pretty good sized hole in the wall. Fact is, a business is a business, no matter what you own. That alone is an exciting adventure , but it can also be scary as heck if you don’t have a plan or know how exactly to do things to make it all run easier.



Print Friendly

28 Responses to Bar Owners – Owning A Bar

  • I am in the very beginning stage of opening a bar. I want it to be a vodka bar only. I need help with the first steps… I am looking a doing a buildout in a predominately social bar area. I need to know how to price my vodka shots.. how to go about the build out. how to negotiate my bottles with my distributors. I guess A to Z info. I love your site by the way.

    Thank you


  • I am looking into opening a bar from a turn key bar. Receipts for the past year show monthly sales at 19k-30k. Rent is $2500.00. In your opinion, would this be worth it? Trying to figure out if the bar would make $ after overhead??

    • Hi Tara
      It would be hard for me to answer this as there is so much I do not know. Location being one of them. If the bar is in a busy area, you can build the business even more. I don’t know all of the overhead at this bar – and what condition the bar is in. If it is in good shape, not much needed in repairs etc. It sounds to me that you will be able to make a go of it. I hope however, that the income is more often closer to the $30K then the $19K per month. But we all want that. haha Would I go for it??? I think it sounds OK – but I would definitely find out about the neighborhood, and costs of everything first. Electric, water etc. Just remember, there is always money to be made in the bar business. Hope I helped ya at least a little. Thanks for comment. Good Luck !!!

  • Hey its Justin again. I was skimming through some ideas for week night entertainment in a bar and come up with some things I thought would be cool. However I am stuck between Karaoke and Open Mic night. Didn’t figure I would want to do both each week as they seem to be similar so I figured I would see if you had tried both and if so which you found more successful?

    • Hi Justin
      Thanks for coming back — Now this may not be every bar – BUT — in my bar Karaoke beat out open mic in a huge way. People love to sing !!! They love Karaoke !!! Just a heads up tho — actually 2 things I want to say — first off, be sure your Karaoke person is fun, full of energy and doesn’t hog the mic. I have had a couple of them that sang very well – however I paid them to let the customers sing. Some of them just didn’t get it. hahha Full of themselves I think. The other thing is to not over pay them. I had some crazy experiences with that. Of course you want them happy, but some wanted way to much money. I had Karaoke Sun through Thurs, and trust me some of those nights can tend to be slow — when you have a Karaoke host making more than you are — there is a problem. So be sure to be careful with that. Some owners, prefer to pay a percentage of the register (instead of a flat fee) and that is all. The same rule goes for bands also. They need to earn more money. If they aren’t packing the house, then no raise. Sorry !!! Sounds cruel I know, but some of the entertainment had big ego’s and to be honest — they just weren’t as great as they thought they were. I also have had awesome bands that packed the house and earned every penny and more. 🙂 Oh man – I sure can go on about this subject. haha
      Hope I helped you, if you have anymore questions, I am here.
      Take Care Justin,

      • Thanks alot for the help. I will be sure to watch that expense because I doubt ill even have cover through the week. I actually thought about purchasing the Karaoke equipment however I guess someone has to run it anyways? Not to mention Ill probably just have it one night so it wont be an everyday expense paying someone. Also, I thought about having dance music like through a DJ on Thursday night for Ladies Night, are costs for DJ’s and Karaoke people cheaper usually than bands? Again, I may not have cover through the week so I cant afford to spend a ton and still have live music on the weekends. Plus I imagine Ill have to have some sort of way of playing music on my own either through radio, or laptop.

        • Hi
          Charging cover doesn’t always work – depends on where you are located. Yes Karaoke and Dj’s are way cheaper than bands. Having bands during the week – is usually way to expensive, unless you can get decent bands that just want a chance. I hired many garage bands, and it really was a lot of fun. Some played for free the first time. I usually paid them something though. I can be a big softie. haha DJ’s can be very successful – just depends on the crowd you get. Also during the week you can have pool & dart tournaments etc. That helps the bar a lot. People draw in people. If the bar is super slow, new people walk in and can walk right back out. As for the other music, jukebox is the way to go. I got mine from the same person that I rented the games from. I made excellent money from the jukebox and games. 🙂 OK sounds like you will have a great bar. Just don’t let the overhead get to be ridiculous. To much overhead and you will find yourself in trouble. Just get fun bartenders and from there — get the other things a little at a time. Jukebox should be one of the first things as it creates atmosphere. Not played to loud in the day time though. haha

          • Awseom! Yeah I’m hoping everything goes well for me. I just have so many ideas and trying to filter through them and make sure their not going to be to expensive for me to make money is my thing now haha As for the Jukebox I had thought numerous times about that however didn’t know how popular they still were. I also didn’t know if it would be worth having if I’m only open 5 nights a week given that four of those night will involve either karaoke, dj, live music, etc… However I guess there are always breaks and the time before all that stuff starts in which it can be used? Can they be set to play music even if someone does not put money in them to play a specific song? I’m not real familiar with them so I was concerned that if it was slow and their wasn’t any songs getting requested that there would be no music?

  • Can I use the existing bar license if I rent a bar from the owner or do I need to file for my own liscense. It is beer only.

    • Hi Ferris
      You are leasing the building? Buying the business? OK if you are buying the business – this includes the license — then the license should be in your name. Then you own the license. I am not sure what you mean about rent the business? Are you going to manage the business? If so then you need to be listed as the manager. I need a bit more info, but usually you buy the business and you only want to buy the business if it comes with a clean license. Unless of course you have purchased a license elsewhere.

  • Hello! thanks for the website i love the information.
    I am looking to open my own bar soon, and i was curious about how you can obtained your inventory? food and alcohol.
    Do you do wholesale shopping at a Sam’s club or Costco?
    Or are you going to the source manufactures? If so how do you obtain these contacts?

    • Hi Emilio
      My bar was in California, and you could only buy from Wholesalers. It was very illegal to buy from grocery stores etc.
      It use to bug me, because regular stores had great booze sales. But trust me if you get caught buying from anybody other than licensed wholesalers in California, you would be in a whole lot of trouble. So always buy your booze legally. Buying any other way just isn’t worth the risk.
      Take Care – Thanks for great question.

  • As I try to understand drink pricing I think Im still a little confused on PC. In the Jack Daniels example it uses a PC of 22 percent however in the section about PC it says 15 percent is around average for liqour. Which I understand it varies however is there anyway of having an idea of how much the PC should be for the particular liquor or beer used?

    • Hi Justin
      Yes PC and pricing can be a confusing mess. The 15% for liquor that is what most go by — well all I can tell you is I did the happy dance if my PC came out over all at around 18%. If you get 15% over all, meaning all of your liquor combined — The Grand Total – you are a miracle worker and one lucky bar owner. That is however, just my opinion. hahhah
      Now you can get the PC for each bottle, at least what it should be — but it won’t come out accurate – because let’s say, you allow an ounce and a half a pour. Well that would be great if that bottle was poured into drinks exactly like you want. Here is the problem though. Say your bartender pours a bunch of 3 wise men shots. Well that shot consists of 3 different types of alcohol — and one of them is Jack Daniels — the problem is the bartender is only pouring a 3rd of a shot of Jack in each shot she or he sells. So there goes your accurate 1 1/2 oz. pour per drink. Do you see what I mean? So that is how each bottle of liquor will differ. Not counting the heavy handed bartender.
      Just keep in mind that you can change the PC by changing your prices. If your PC is to high, then you need to raise prices and/or keep and eye on your employees for overpouring or giving drinks away. If you consume alcohol in your bar, then you also must account for those drinks when doing inventory. Everything MUST be accounted for in inventory. This year I plan to go deeper into all of that. I am also going to post info on all of the things that need to be tracked in case of an Audit. Yes the dreaded Audit. So be sure to come back and check out the new info. Look for it in a couple months, as I am in the process of moving and things are just chaotic around here. Thanks for great questions, they are appreciated.
      Take Care,

      • Thanks for the helpful information. So when you say you can get the PC for each bottle or what it should be, is that because it is specified for each bottle or am I overlooking a formula used to find PC?

        • Hi Justin
          OK to get the PC you just do the math on each bottle.

          The PC changes depending on price of bottle, size of bottle and size of pour.
          Take a look at how I write the different sizes, prices etc.
          See how the PC is different?


          So all you have to do is use the calculators I provide


          or just follow along with how I show how to do the math — for each bottle of alcohol. The PC depends on many different things.
          Geezzzzz I hope I haven’t confused you. It truly is easy. Just put in the numbers and you will see what I mean.

      • I will be sure to look for any new information you post on here. I also plan to attend bartending school in hopes of bartending until I can work out a deal on buying a bar so hopefully I can learn more about pricing drinks through that for I imagine bartenders must know some stuff about pricing drinks as well. I have also heard that alot of owners shoot for a 20 percent profit on all drinks as a way of pricing, does this sound reasonable? Seems like a simple way of pricing because of how easy it is to find how much money it cost to make a drink then multiply that by 5.

        • I need to correct myself here. I meant to say I have heard bar owners try to price their drink to where they have 20 percent of the price they are asking invested or 1/5. In other words if they have $2.00 invested in the alcohol to make a drink, they would as $10.00 for the drink.

          • Hii Justin
            Well I have always gone by the formulas that I posted to you, and it always worked out for me. As for 20 percent — I never did my pricing that way.
            As for bar tending schools — any kind of learning is great, however — I am not sure what they teach. I do know when I hired employees straight out of bar tending school, I had to train them from scratch. Nothing against bar tending schools, but they don’t always teach how things really are in bars.

  • I would like to start by saying thanks for making information like this available as it seems to be really helpful as I wish to by my own bar. I was wondering, do you think it is significantly important to work in a bar as say a bartender before becoming an owner or is it something that can be learned and understood without doing so and still be successful? Also, as I look through different places I notice some places in popular areas in the 50-100k range and I was wondering if you thought a successful place could be purchased for that price range as I would not to have a huge debt starting off?

    • Hi Justin
      Thanks for questions — as for should you be a bartender before you own one? Well I was a bartender for many years before I owned one, however that is not a prerequisite to owning a bar. I do think that it is beneficial to know something about bars — even if you just hang out in them and talk to bartenders and owners etc. It is good to understand the business at least a little. I have however, met bar owners that have never been in the business, and they just learned as they went.
      As for the price of the bar, well that all depends where you are buying. Buying a bar ranges greatly from place to place. So I have no idea how to answer that question for you. You could just go around asking all the bar owners that are around there. Thanks again for comment.

  • Great site! It’s been extremely helpful. I’m trying to open up my own bar in a college town with only a few bars so there is a huge market available. I only ask because I used to be a student in a college town, and I know what goes on, but what is your stance on fake IDs? Everyone uses a fake at one point or another, and I’m sure there are some penalties involved in letting kids in, but that is a good size portion of the market. In my experience, most bouncers have let in people with a decent looking ID that is not expired. Do you think that is a good rule to go by?

    • Hi Vik
      Thank You for the question — I have to tell you tho, I advise you to never and I seriously mean this – never ever knowingly accept fake ID’s. I don’t know where you live, but if you get caught serving a minor it hurts you. Especially if they can prove you knew you were serving minors. You could lose your business. Also, eventually something will happen in your bar, such as maybe a fight or whatever. The cops show up, find minors in your bar — oh Geezzzzz, not good. It truly isn’t worth the risk. Stick to only serving those that are old enough to be in your bar. You also need to consider — employees. Laws are different everywhere, but in CA, if the bar is caught serving minors – not only does the bar get fined so does the bartender and the waitress if a waitress brought the drink to the minor. I just can’t express to you enough – how knowingly serving a minor will eventually end up as a disaster for you.
      Thanks so much for your question and good luck in your business.

  • I found this site to be very helpful. I am in the process of purchasing a tavern located in PA. It’s a small tavern located in a very rural area. I am interested in pricing both beer and liquor. I understand the formulas, and have worked out all pricing. My closest competition is 9 miles away, but am compelled to keep prices at a reasonable price versus my competitors…for example, my cost for a thirty pack is 22.65 with tax. My competitors are at 2.75 per. !!!! When I open my doors, I will be at 2.35 per. I feel it fits my clientele and the area. Am I wrong thinking this way?????

    • Hi Jeff
      I am so glad you found my bar site helpful. You ask if I think you are wrong in your thinking. No I think you are thinking the right way. However, I never liked messing with dimes and nickles — neither did the bartenders, therefore I would always round my prices to where I only had to use quarters. It can be a pain to have to deal with nickels and dimes. I know that sounds lazy, but it sure is easier. So $2.25 or $2.50 is what I would do. Obviously you need to charge enough to cover expenses and make some money!!! So just be sure to make enough to be able to cover any problems that may arise. You can count on different things going wrong, trust me on that. Like ice machines breaking, stuff like that.
      I wish you much luck in your new business. Have fun — try not to stress — hahah
      Take Care Jeff and thank you for comment and stopping by. Come again soon

  • Do u have a downloadable version of this information or a pamphlet or book I can order

    • Hi Roma
      No I am sorry, I do not have any books or downloads at this time.
      You can always print some of the info.
      Thanks for visiting,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I give away a huge amount of free information on this site and I also promote some third party products. I will not recommend anything that I haven't used or needed or find to be of significant value. Yes - Sometimes I receive a commission when these products are purchased from this site. Once again, I do not or will not promote anything that is not useful or valuable.