Pour cost is often discussed in professional bartending. Essentially, pour cost is the actual cost of the ingredients in pouring a drink or cocktail expressed as a percentage of the sales price. This is used in both setting the sales price for individual drinks and alcohols as well as inventory purposes.
For instance, if a 750 ml bottle of Makers 46 costs $35.99, and the house pours a 2 ounce shot and the house wants a 22% pour cost, one would take the sale price ($35.99) and divide by 25.4 ounces in the bottle to figure the price per ounce. That will equal approximately $1.42. At a 2 ounce pour ($1.42 x 2= $2.84) it will cost $2.84 in ingredients to pour a 2 ounce shot. If the house is seeking a 22% pour cost, it will take the total price of ingredients, in this case $2.84 and divide it by the pour cost percentage desired (.22) to get the sales price. In this case, at 22% pour cost, a $2.84 2 ounce shot of Makers 46 would be marked up to $12.90 (most bars will simply round up to the next full or half dollar mark making this likely to sell for $13).