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How to Calculate a Professional Bars Pour Cost


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Photo Credit: © Shannon Graham
Updated July 20, 2011

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

In its simplest form, and the form practiced by most professional bars and restaurants, inventory is taken, and then the cost of goods sold (COGS) is divided by the bar sales for that same period. For instance, if inventory reveals that $12,275 in product was sold during the month of November, and bar sales for November were $35,125, then the pour cost for the month of November would be 34.9% ($12,275 divided by $35,125 = .349).

Most professional bars seek a pour cost of between 18 to 24%, so 34.9% would generally be considered quite high. With a pour cost that high, restaurant and bar managers would first want to ensure that a complete inventory was done and recalculate the cost of goods sold and review the monthly sales figures for accuracy. If the pour cost is legitimately that high then managers should look for buybacks, overpouring, theft and unrecorded or misfired drinks as control opportunities.

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