Owning A Bar – Bar Tending – Drink Recipes

Controlling Over Pouring

Bottle pouring into martini glass

Controlling Over Pouring


This is NO easy task! Not at all! I have to admit I hated inventory. But it has to be done! Not that all bar owners do inventory often enough to check on their PC (pouring cost). That is their mistake and a big one at that.


Many Bars and Restaurants Lose Income


and a lot if it, because of excessive over pouring of alcohol and draft beer. I have talked to so many bar owners and I was surprised to find out how many of them do not understand PC and the importance of it. It simply amazed me that so many bar owners just seemed indifferent about it. Whatever…if they don’t care about losing money that should be going back into the business, not down the drain. Well more power to them.


All I know is I wanted as much money going back into my business as possible – not lost to me forever – because of excessive over pouring or stealing.


Then There Is The Bar Owner


who doesn’t have the slightest clue on how to do inventory or know how to figure their PC.
Why you ask? Well it is not like you go out and take a bunch of classes before you buy a bar to learn all of this stuff. Unless you’ve been around bars or involved in some way with a bar business before you buy a bar, then you really do need to learn inventory control some how. This is where a really good inventory of all liquor and beer and snacks and everything else that you buy and sell come in. It is important to count everything you buy and sell regularly.


Are you missing way to much product


after doing inventory? If so, you obviously have a problem. The problem usually involves an employee or two. You need to find out. This loss of inventory can really hurt a business in a big way. So you have to find out where all your stuff is going! Of course liquor, bottle beer, draft beer and wine are the most important as that is where your biggest income comes from in a bar. So in order to find out if there is excessive over pouring going on, you need to do a complete inventory of everything you sell. On my inventory page you can find so many ways to get your inventory done and keep track of all you are losing in income or hopefully NOT losing! Yep NOT losing product would be awesome, having all the numbers come out like they are suppose to would be a dream come true. However — that is not how it turns out a majority of the time — often you will find many things not adding up as they should. OK – what do you do then? Well, you are sure that you counted right … when you did inventory … right? If you know you did a good inventory – and you know you counted and recounted to make sure everything was accounted for and counted right –then, if you are missing products it is time to pay attention and find out why and who!!!


Ways To Control Over Pouring.


Keeping track of everything you buy and sell is how you start controlling your Inventory and your Pouring Cost. There are other ways to get your Pouring Cost (PC) down. It could be that you are not charging enough for your drinks. It is important that you figure your PC – and learn how to correctly price all drinks that you sell. Not charging the correct amount for these things can really make your pouring cost go through the roof. I have made it pretty easy for you by supplying you with a Liquor & Beer Calculators and a Pouring Cost Calculator. All you have to do is enter in a few numbers. Once you do that, the nifty little calculator will show you what you should be charging for that drink. Go check it out. It makes it all so easy! Now if you want a better understanding of how this is all done – I explain that all to you as well – How To Price a Drink or a Bottle Beer!

You need to know what you have, or you won’t know what is missing.  So count and count and count!!! I cannot stress that enough.


You have a starting point … in other words you should have a correct count of everything you have — especially of all the items you sell — before your Grand Opening of your bar. Place all of this in an Excel Spreadsheet or into a good accounting program. I swear by Quickbooks, it is awesome. Not to difficult of a learning curve either.

Now you also need to watch all of your bartenders for over pouring and giving stuff away. One way to tell if your bartenders are over pouring is to watch them inconspicuously. Of course this is assuming that the owner or the manager knows what the bars rules are on pours and what to look for. Some owners have cameras set up at all pouring stations and aimed at all cash registers. It is all up to you and how you prefer to keep an eye on your assets.


Now, if a bartender knows you are watching them, it is amazing how all of a sudden their pours into that ole glass are perfect.


Another way to check on your bartenders pours — pick a bottle or two that you know is sold on that bartenders shift. Just look at that bartenders register receipts. Most bartenders sell a certain brand on a regular basis. Now before the bartender comes into work — you can do a couple of things. Mark the bottles (so you know how much was in it) that you are watching with a small enough pen mark that only you know about. The other is to just put a new bottle out, that only that bartender will be using. Now this works well when there is only one bartender behind the bar. If there is more than one employee behind the bar, it can mess things up. If for instance, you have two bartenders working, and they work their own side of the bar, then put 2 new bottles of each alcohol on each side.
Hopefully the rule is already set that they never exchange bottles. You do need rules like that in order to keep track of your inventory. Common sense comes into play with a lot of this.


Don’t get me wrong, not all bartenders are dishonest. Some are fantastic and care about you business very much. Others however, are all about themselves and only care about the money going into their own pockets. So hopefully you find honest, caring bartenders. Finding honest employees can be a huge task all by itself. Once you have all honest, trustworthy bartenders, life is much better. That does not mean you stop checking on them.

I know I have seen many bartenders get to comfortable. After being employed with you a long time, they can get pretty full of themselves. When that happens, BEWARE! They just do as they please, pour how they want, give away what they want etc. Anyway, that is time for an office meeting or a parting of the ways! Sounds harsh I know, but you must protect your business!!! Believe me when I say, it takes a ton of money to keep your businesses doors open! When you have an employee stealing, that is a big loss of money. You can’t afford losses like that for long, not if you want to remain in business.


Bartenders Employed With You


I had several bar owners tell me they never keep a bartender over six months.

I don’t agree with that, but I do understand it after owning a bar for so long. Employees can change on you quickly and some not for the better. So I understand the 6 month thing. I never practiced it, but thinking about it now – it is not a terrible idea.


Sad As It Is


Some bartenders will over pour because they just don’t care.
They know full well they are over pouring and do it mainly to get bigger tips. Some people would be blown away at how many ways an employee can steal from you or customers. Sad but true. Hmmmmmmm what to do, what to do? Do the words FIRED, TERMINATED, DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YA IN THE BEHIND ring a bell?


Other Employees


just don’t realize how you can really hurt a bar’s business by constantly over pouring.

Even if they are only over pouring a little on a regular basis, that little bit of over pouring will end up adding up to big loss of money.
Most of my employees were great, BUT I have had some really bad ones too. They were down right dishonest bartenders !!! Trust me if you keep that kind of bartender working for you for very long they can really do damage to your business.


Think About It This Way


If you buy 100 cases of beer and you inventory just once a month. Say you sold 75 cases. So you should have 25 cases left…right? Right! OK now after counting your inventory you only have 20 cases. UH OH ! Well if there are 24 bottles in a case and you are missing 5 cases, that would be 120 bottles of beer missing. Now say you charge $5.00 a bottle. So… $5.00 x 120 bottles of missing beer = $600 in loss of income you would have had for your business. That would pay a couple bills wouldn’t it? That is just one item. What if every bottle of alcohol you sell was less than your inventory said it should be? Well then you are really losing a whole lot of money. Don’t fret though as you can get your inventory under control and can literally check if your bartenders are over pouring very easily. You will be surprised at how easily you will be able to figure it all out once you learn the proper ways to do this.


Not all of us can afford those fancy Point Of Sale Machines


to track inventory. It would be nice, but not always possible. I would definitely recommended them if you are running a huge bar — or if you just can’t stand doing heavy duty inventories or don’t have the time etc.


Draft Beer


is one of the hardest things to keep track of. Unless you have a nice weighing scale!!!
Over pouring of draft is something else too. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched beer go right done the drain. I remember sitting in a hamburger joint that shall remain nameless and I was shocked at what I saw the bartender do. I was so shocked I remember showing my hubby and he couldn’t believe it either. She put a big mug under the tap of draft, pulled open the draft and walked away. I sat there watching the beer pour out of the glass right down the drain for at least 30 seconds while she was busy doing something else. Can you imagine how much beer went straight down the drain? I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to go off on her!!! I hate stupidity! Let’s hope there are not any imbeciles like that working for you.


Another problem with Pouring Tap Beer


is sometimes you can get a big problem with the beer foaming way to much when you are trying to pour it.
Sometimes common sense doesn’t always come into play with employees – even though you wish it would!
I have seen bartenders holding the glass under the tap and just let that beer run and run down the drain until the beer in glass isn’t foamy. Talk about me seeing red when I would see this happening! Instead of waiting until the foam subsides, it just goes down the drain. Can you believe that? Stuff like that is just wrong. You lose so much money when things like this happen in your bar. It is imperative to train your bartenders on the proper way to pour draft beer – there is a technique to it. Always make sure they understand completely that letting beer go down the drain is NOT in the least bit acceptable. Not ever! Also tell them if the beer from a keg is not pouring right, they need to just shut it down until it is fixed.
Common sense is needed in any business. That does not mean all people have that gift. This is why you need to set rules with all employees. Have them sign a contract. It will pay off for you in the long run.

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17 Responses to Controlling Over Pouring

  • Im in the process of buying a well established lounge in Houston TX. And though the employees have been there for a while, just with the due-diligence and personal checking Ove been doing, I already know that there is a problem with over pouring and giving drinks away at “employees” prices. Thats going to have to stop once Im in control. Itll be MY money that they are giving away and I wont stand for that. Its so hard to find good help. And friends and family are sometimes the biggest thieves and business killers… Good luck to you all and Ill check in later with updates on my new lounge.


    • Just my opinion – but I would never keep the employees from the bar you are buying. Find your own employees. Never hire family or friends. I learned that the hard way. Good luck with your new establishment. 🙂

  • Great article, it’s nice to have a place to get good input from fellow bar people. I would like to share a lesson I’ve learned the hard way…BEWARE OF BAD BUSINESS PARTNERS, they can be bigger thieves than several bartenders combined. I bought into a bar in early 2012 (a small yet cozy place in western Iowa) with a “good friend”…I had a full time day job and he was able to “oversee” the day to day business of the bar. A couple of months had gone gone by and sales were steadily increasing (Hooray!). One day, after noticing a past due bill behind the bar I launched my own personal investigation which included checking the bank account daily. It became obvious we barely had enough money to even pay the light bill. that was my first lesson in doing inventory (among other things)…unkown to me at the time…he really enjoyed hosting “private after hours events” (I’m talking 10+ people would show up as soon as I went home. They would then party till the sun came up), not only is this bad from an inventory standpoint, but also highly illegal and VERY costly. After a bartender and a couple of very concerened customers brought these parties to my attention I started doing inventory daily. I would leave my regular job and head straight to the bar to do inventory (while my then business partner was home, still sleeping off the night before). Keep in mind, at that time we didnt have a POS system, but we didn’t really need one to figure out that big of a loss. I will spare you the gory details of our last business meeting. A short time later my sister bought him out and we have ran a pretty tight ship ever since. I still do inventory weekly as well as order Beer/Liquor weekly and our PC is pretty good although we have had a few issues with bartenders drinking, overpouring or giving their friends a few drinks. I try to curb that the second I see it, which in several cases has meant automatic termination…especially drinking on the job (GRRR!!!). I’m there as often as possible, since I can’t live in the place surveilance cameras have been a HUGE help, we can view them remotely either from home or our phones. My fear is some things are still being overpoured and/or enetered in the system wrong even though they have all been trained on how we want things to be done. Of course I could just be paranoid since my introduction into the Bar Business was less than pleasant. On a positive note, I am happy to have the opportunity to share my experience possibly saving someone else the same rough start, which could easily discourage them completely.

    • Hi Bryan
      Thank You so much for this info — I also had a bad experience with a partner, however my hubby and I were lucky enough to be able to buy him out. So it is good that you were able to also with your sister.
      Sometimes the partner thing can be the worst idea. Glad it is all going better for you and your sis now. Bar owning can really be a major headache at times. Thank You so much for your story and for stopping by my site.
      Take Care,

  • Boss says always losing a keg a week, how many free pints is that a day, always miller lite,miller high life and michelob light. Have specials on tap beer if the Mn Twins are playing which is about 6 days a week maybe about 20 beers would be sold during a game. These kegs rarely foam, just need a little help on trying to figure this out. I don’t steal and it looks like we are stealing.

    • Hi Jeff
      First off — how big is the keg? How many ounces? I will awesome it is the big keg — 1/2 barrel. That is 1984 oz. Now a pint is 16 oz. So just divide. 1984 oz. / 16 oz = 124 pints a week divided by a week (7days) = 17.71 pints a day. Keep in mind that is the math for the big keg.
      On my Cost Calculator page — you will find the keg sizes and how many ounces each keg holds. Just scroll down to bottom of the page. Link is below.

      If you are talking about a different size keg, then you need to know how many ounces is in that keg and enter the correct ounces.
      Math would be —
      Keg in ounces divided by 16 pint in oz. = which gives you the missing amount of pints for the week, then divide that by 7 days and that will be how many are missing daily.
      Hope that is what you were looking for.
      Thanks for the question and for stopping by.
      Take Care,

  • I have a big problem with bar promos: such as am promo, pm promo, bday promo, manager promo, DJ promo, etc. and all totals =$260-$360 (in discounts) every day. Is this normal in Bar/Restaurant business? Please help.
    Thank you all in advance.

    • Hi Tom
      Wow sounds like way to much is being given out. All I can say is — Stop it. Stop giving away the business. I gave away very little. The best way to keep business is by having a great place, that everyone wants to go to. You do this by having awesome employees, that make people feel welcome – a clean establishment, a fun place to go. Stuff like that. All the Promo’s are not necessary. It is more important to get word of mouth out there about your place. There are so many ways to get good paying customers in your business, and giving a bunch of stuff away is definitely not the way to do it. Take a look at some of the ideas I have in this site that keep customers coming back. You ask if you are giving out to much — Yes you are. An occasional birthday drink, maybe you buy a drink for a great customer that is always spending in your place. Stuff like that.
      Anyway, I think you need to cut way back on all the Promo’s. Find out what other places are charging — make sure your prices aren’t outrageous – You do not want customers walking out because they think it is way to expensive. An occasional special is great, but just mark down slightly. I could go on and on. So anyway, it is time to stop giving away so much. Hope this helps Tom.
      One more thing — customers will take if you are giving — they however do not have to pay the bills.
      Take Care,
      PS — Anybody else out there can give Tom advice I am sure it would be appreciated.

    • Tom,

      What are you giving away? That’s crazy! Unless you’re making a killing in your business and have that to give I wouldn’t. I don’t think it’s normal and I’ve never worked or visited a place where that went on.
      If you like to give stuff away, as your vendors to donate it. If people are having a great time, promo’s aren’t needed. Good luck!

  • Can draft beers have a counter system. At times the barmen serve the beer without KOT. They then pocket the money

    • Hi Kiran
      Yes there are all types of counter systems for draft. Talk to who ever supplies your beer, they can help you out.

  • Very good article. I absolutely agree that bar owners do need to overlook their PC. Also here in India many bar tenders do not know the proper way of pouring different liquors.

    • Hi Nilay
      I am so glad you like this article. Makes me feel good. Thank You for stopping by — and Wow all the way from India. Makes me realize bars have the same types of problems all around the world. Yes bartenders need to learn how to pour correctly, or a bar can be in financial problems in no time. Thanks again for nice compliment.
      Take Care

  • It may be illegal to charge a bartender for over pouring, there are ways around it. I have instituted in the establishments that I am currently running as follows. Drawer shortages and over pouring on a shift monitored by bevinco. The employee either has to pay for the shortage or take a writeup. 3 write ups and the employee is terminated. If an employee is caught directly over pouring or stealing they are terminated on the spot. I also follow thru, if the theft is of serious amounts of money I pursue criminal action with local authorities. This was the case where a cleaning crew was 10% of my bevinco loss. Thats thousands of dollars! Lastly I keep accurate records and video so the employee may not collect Unemployment. I believe this industry needs to be protected from the fly by night, stealing, over pouring employees that believe that can make a fast buck at the expense of the business and the reputation of this industry. Owners take a stand!

  • Is it against Fl laws to make bartenders pay for their missing inventory each shift?

    • I have heard it is against the law to charge bartenders for their over pouring and for their shortages of cash in the register. I also know that all bar owners do things differently. Most make them pay back any shortage of cash, and some bartenders are fired if over pouring of alcohol is continued after being warned.
      It is important to train all bartenders on how you want your shots, draft and drinks poured!!! Be sure to let them know they will be terminated immediately if your rules are not followed.
      I do not know the laws in all states, but you could find out easily by contacting the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) in your state. Hope this helps.

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