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How to Build a Restaurant Bar Inventory

Leaders CornerNov 07, 2017

The Bartender Company: How to Build a Restaurant Bar Inventory

There are many challenges in managing a restaurant and its inventory. When it comes to restaurants that have liquor licenses and a bar inventory, those challenges are doubled, including the juggling of additional vendors, drink menus, employees requiring specific training, and special logistics, as well as additional expenses.

Restaurants that serve alcohol generally outperform food establishments that do not – Profits generated from bar menus pad the bottom line. The secret for successful restaurant management is keeping costs down while providing customers with the drinks they desire. For success, managing bar inventory is critical. Here are some helpful tips to keep restaurant bar inventories in line with your ultimate goal: Profitability.

Tip 1: Beware of the Deal You Don’t Need

Liquor distributors and sales representatives thrive on special deals. It seems like every week presents a deal that bar managers can’t pass up. The secret here is to carefully evaluate your needs: Do you really need that case of top-shelf bourbon? Will you be able to quickly sell that specialty vodka? Unused inventory, or items that move extremely slowly, affect your bottom line. Resist the temptation, unless the deal is something you can actually move in your operation.

Tip 2: Stock the Basics

It goes without saying that successful restaurant bar operations know what their customers like. Tailoring inventory and drink menus to accommodate those desires is the key to continued success. Here, having adequate inventories of the basics is crucial.

For beer and wines, consult with your chef and staff to figure out what pairings match your menu. If you have any doubts about the wines to stock, keep things simple by having a small selection of light and heavy reds and light and heavy white wines available. The same goes with beers – if your restaurant operation and bar patronage favors beers with their meals, stock a good selection. Otherwise, keep it lean with a couple of carefully-curated choices.

Liquor inventory is actually a bit easier. The common spirits lend themselves to a broad range of cocktail favorites and offer the versatility you need in your inventory. The best approach is to stock equal supplies of:





Stock double the amount in:




Don’t forget your mixers, such as club soda, tonic water, soft drinks (including diet varieties), and fruit juices, just to name a few. These non-alcoholic mixers can extend your cocktail menu and stretch your liquor inventory while providing the cocktails your customers desire.

Tip 3: Consider Signature Cocktails

Now that you’ve stocked your inventory with the basics, it’s time to differentiate your operation from competitors. One great way of doing this is by creating “signature cocktails”. This has a twofold benefit: Controlling costs, and providing an enhanced experience for customers. It controls costs by allowing you to limit your ingredients, such as one top-shelf liquor along with mixers or well brands. Highlight the top-shelf brand on your menu, and customers will feel they’re getting exquisite value for the price.

Blended drinks can also stretch inventories; remember that one of the main ingredients in a blended drink is ice, which takes up precious volume.

These are only a few of the many ways restaurant bars can control inventory, resulting in greater profits and less waste.

This article is brought to you by The Bartender Company, a high-end elite private bartending service used by companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Skype, Chase, and many more.