Alcohol provides the greatest profit margin for restaurants, but with all the new trends, it can get costly in a hurry. Stir these tips into your beverage program to help control alcohol costs.

These days, profit margins for many restaurants and bars can be thinner than a rosemary sprig garnish, so any way to cut pour costs can help. This guide offers some suggestions for cutting down on pour costs while still offering a great cocktail program to guests.

Proper Pour Policy

Consistency is key when it comes to tracking alcohol sales, meaning that the guidelines for alcohol pours are followed for every pour made in the restaurant. By setting a target pour size, you can anticipate and control the costs for standard drink prices, as well as happy hour specials and other drink specials.

Pre-Made Cocktails

Efforts to reduce inconsistent pours and overpouring are as simple as pre-measuring ingredients ahead of time. Having bartenders or servers take time before their shift starts to make enough base liquors with other ingredients will ensure a consistent pour and leave less margin for errors, such as spilling.

Inventory Management

Processes that track inventory from the moment it arrives until it’s prepared for your customers is essential for controlling costs, and that applies even more so to alcohol, and specifically, liquor. Ensure that you know weekly what is coming in and what has been used, and then address any discrepancies immediately.

When it makes sense and is possible, order liquor and other alcoholic beverages in bulk. This eliminates excessive fees for partial cases or extra delivery fees. Understanding the PAR level of your alcohol products will enable you to project the cost-benefit of bulk purchasing for an extended period rather than a smaller charge over a short-term period.

Pricing Bevs

Over the last couple of years, it’s been clear that fluctuations can be devastating in restaurants. Alcohol sales are no exception. If your prices have not fluctuated with the changes in the overall economy, it’s time to take a hard look at the numbers to see if your alcohol prices are in balance.

If you are looking at increasing prices, it may be helpful to reduce the time period for happy hour, or only have drink specials on certain nights instead of every day at 5:00. This will also eliminate over-consumption and other issues that arise with extended drink specials.

Make ‘Em A Mocktail

Once considered taboo, there’s a new generation that actually prefers non-alcoholic drinks. So why not capitalize on that opportunity? Let the creative juices flow for your servers and bartenders to create delicious drinks that mimic classic cocktails. This results in an upsell for you and an improved experience for your restaurant guests.

Menu Placement

List beer and simple cocktail drink specials with happy hour and appetizer foods. This allows happy hour customers to enjoy a range of their favorites without a classic entrée. Best of all, it allows understanding of what items you need in bulk to earn the highest return rate.

List a detailed wine and sophisticated liquor drink menu with premium entrées and dinner specials. This encourages a higher price point for alcohol sales, with either a bottle of wine, a moderately-priced glass of wine, or a custom-made cocktail featuring only premium liquors and ingredients.

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