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Control Portions, Control Profit

Published: November 2020

Control your profits with pour and portion control 

When is a quarter ounce of liquor worth tens of thousands of dollars?  

That’s how much money your business could lose over the course of a year if your staff overpours drinks by just a small amount every night.  

So, how do you protect your bottom line? Enter pour and portion control. By keeping food and drink measurements consistent, you’ll create a truer picture of your profitability and give guests the same flavors and quality with every visit. Here’s how to do it: 

Start with pour costs. The average pour cost – that is, the cost of liquor sold each month as a percentage of total sales – ranges from about 10 percent for well liquor to 30 percent for top-shelf brands, according to industry expert Chuck Deibel. Any higher, and overpouring may be a problem – though there is always an opportunity to improve cost savings. Check your pour cost each month to ensure you’re on track. Regular training goes a long way in ensuring that bar and kitchen staff know how to prepare food and drinks consistently. 



Give them a cue. Wine glasses with pour lines ensure an accurate serving every time. Of course, leaving some “room to breathe” in the glass also enhances the overall drinking experience and encourages moderation. And while there are plenty of high-tech devices on the market to control liquor, a simple  jigger, mixing glass or shot glass with pour lines can be a bartender’s best friend in making precise measurements.  

Think small. Naturally, small glasses and plates trick the eye into seeing larger serving sizes. Smaller cocktail glasses (we love the 1924 collection and Speakeasy Nick & Nora) also help control the volume of the drink, keeping costs down for your guests, increasing sales and supporting higher profitability per serving.  

Learn a new trick. Foam and ice create the illusion that there is more liquid in a glass than there truly is. Beer glasses with thick, heavy “false” bottoms can give the impression of a generous pour. For example, to a guest, a 16-ounce glass and a 14-ounce glass with a false bottom look identical when filled. But you’ll be pouring 2 fewer ounces of beer -- savings per serving that can add up quickly over time. Switching out a short, wide glass for a tall, narrow one has the same effect 

Increase value. It’s no secret that guests will pay more for an item with a higher perceived value. Consider serving drinks in specialized glassware like style-specific beer glasses that accentuate aromas and flavor while reducing the number of ounces. Wide-rimmed plates are primed for your culinary creativity (think saucy brushstrokes and crumbles) and limit surface space, thereby reducing food costs. 

Be a follower. Controlling portion size helps you control profits, and today’s trends call for restaurant operators to scale back. With large-group dining and sharing dishes still a no-go, it’s a great time to focus on single-serving items and small plates. Additionally, health-conscious diners are looking to control their own portion sizes, so offerings for smaller appetites may be attractive to guests.

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