Bogus myths of the bar trade...

Does regularly overpouring really increase a bartender's tips? Is selling well product actually more profitable than selling premium brands? How frequently should drinks be comped? The answers to these- and other- questions may surprise you.

Posted: Friday, May 08, 2015




                                               BOGUS MYTHS OF THE BAR-TRADE:

 Regularly over pouring will make you more in tips. 

Studies actually indicate the opposite.  Sure, the occasional regular will hook you up for pouring a triple, but in the long run, moderate pouring increases drink sales and check averages, and the check total is what most customers actually base their tip on.  Over pouring, on the other hand, gets your customers drunk more quickly, so they slow down and consume less drinks during the course of their stay.   


Selling well product is more profitable than selling the call and premium brands. 

Let's clear this up: the margin on well product is better than on premium brands, but the actual net (the bankable income) isn’t.  Consider this example... which would you rather sell: a shot of Christian Brothers or a Louis XIII? The CB shot may have a PC of 7% while the LOUIS may have one of 55%, HOWEVER, your net on the cheap stuff will be a pittance, while the Louis banks $50-100 depending on retail pricing.  It's a no brainer: selling premium brands is more profitable.  What's confusing is that selling higher quality stuff spikes your PC... but that's why PC as a stand alone metric is pretty much useless.


 Promo product is free so doesn’t need to be rung up or tracked. 

Technically promo product isn’t supposed to be sold,  but off the record, surplus promo product is sold off all the time.   And even if it’s not going to be sold, you need to track it’s usage so your bartenders can’t sell n' sub it for other product under the table (er, bar, I mean).  Trust us, the "promo product is free" mentality should be completely discouraged!

Keg foam is unavoidable. 

Nope, not anymore.  State of the art draft and draft monitoring systems can minimize foam to a level of 3% waste or less. Excessive foaming loses you money not only at cost, but also at a retail level, as it slows down service and the wait time discourages patrons from ordering more.  If foam is a problem, demand your draft system installers fix it-- or upgrade your system entirely. If draft beer is a big part of your sales mix, it won't take long to recoup the cost.


The more I comp, the more customers I have, the better business we do.

Let’s parse this out a bit: comps make sense... in the right degree.  They make customers feel special, promote the venue and encourage repeat patronage.   But there comes a point of diminishing returns with them and it’s much lower than most bartenders and managers realize.  If your comp percentage is any higher than 6% - 7% (3% is actually the Industry standard) you’re probably doing your business more harm than good, regardless of how happening your bar looks.  Believe me, we see extremely "busy" bars go out of business all the time because of a lack of constraint in this regard.  

Wine by the glass keeps for up to two weeks.

Nope, 2-3 days for most reds, although the more delicate varietals (ie. Pinot) are lucky to last more than 24 hours; while the heartier whites may last 5-6 days, less hearty 2-3 days.  After that, taste quality deteriorates rapidly, and if you're the least bit serious about your wine program, the wines should then be tossed and rung up as SPILLAGE.





Keeping bottles of white wine (and liquor) in my drink ice is an accepted practice.

It’s a common practice, but a health code violation in most, if not all, states in the US.   Drink ice must be kept separate from product, only a DESIGNATED  ice scoop should come into contact with it. 


A cocktail tin is an acceptable substitute for an ice scoop. 

This is sort of covered above, but what needs clarification is: an ICE SCOOP is actually an implement intended to be just that and nothing more. It’s shovel shaped, not shaped like a pint glass. That way they don’t get confused and bacteria doesn’t find it’s way into the ice.  This is legally mandated across the country, and where it's not, it should be!


 Booze is so cheap and profit margin so high, it’s no big deal if I skim off the top a bit.

Looking at the margin on booze alone doesn’t take into account venue overhead.  A successful bar is lucky to have a 10% margin, which by extension essentially means a drink does too.  Bartenders who regularly skim undermine the profitability of a beverage program.

 I have such a big following, I’m irreplaceable.

Bartenders are generally not the humble sort; they like to claim credit when the bar's busy, then blame management when it's not.  The unvarnished truth, though, is that generally regulars are regulars because they like the venue, not the bartender.  While there may be a few superstars out there, there's also a huge talent pool of bartender applicants waiting in the wings, and chances are, your vast legion of followers will stay put once you're gone, chumming it up with your replacement in no time!



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