Calculating, Controlling, and Understanding Liquor Pour Cost

Lance Mayhew

Dec. 06, 2020

Controlling the Pour of Liquor Is Vital to Maintaining Quality and Cost. Tracking the pour cost in your bar is essential to your business' success.

What Is a Pour of Liquor?

A 'pour' of liquor is, quite simply, the act and amount of liquor that is poured to create a drink.
The 'pour' could be:
• A straight shot poured into a shot glass.
• A straight shot poured into an old-fashioned glass for a whiskey on the rocks.
• The amount of liquor poured to create a cocktail.
The average pour for most drinks is between 1 1/2 and 2 ounces. While every recipe will be different, a cocktail will typically call for 1 1/2 ounces of the base liquor (vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, etc.) and some recipes call for a full 2 ounces. The accent liqueurs and mixers are typically poured between 1/4 and 3/4 ounces. When it comes to pouring straight shots or liquor on the rocks, most bars will use a 2 ounce pour.

How Do You Get an Accurate Pour?

Maintaining an accurate pour is important for a few reasons:
• Controlling the flavor balance of a drink.
• Controlling the consistency of drinks from one round to another.
• Controlling the cost involved with creating a drink.
All of these are essential to a great drinking experience, both at home and at a professional bar. The cost of drinks is especially important in the world of professional bartending because it is meant to be a profitable business and a bartender who has a regular habit of over pouring (by mere oversight or trying to increase tips) can cost a bar a lot of money.

Why Is Controlling the Pour Important?

For the amateur bartender, it is about consistency and creating well-balanced drinks. For the professional, it is about controlling costs.
Any bar owner is (or should be) concerned about inventory control and the cost of each drink their bartenders are serving. That is why bars calculate pour cost on a regular basis and why some insist on the use of jiggers or volume-controlled speed pourers.

How to Calculate a Bar's Pour Cost.

Calculating pour cost in a professional bar is an important task that must be done regularly to ensure that the establishment remains profitable and to prevent against theft and overpouring.
Pour cost must be calculated on at least a monthly basis, failure to do so can lead to theft or other serious issues. A weekly routine is even better and will allow managers to identify trends and manage challenges proactively.

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