Whether it’s whipping up scratch-made cocktails or tapping a craft beer keg, selling liquor in your restaurant is nothing short of fun. Conducting inventory of your liquor stock, however, isn’t always a party. But if you already have your restaurant liquor license and you’re planning on serving the hard stuff, proper restaurant inventory management is essential.

Here are the bar inventory management basics you need to know.

Bar Inventory Spreadsheets

Before you start inventory calculations, it’s important to have all of your ducks in a row. This means using your bar POS to record all of your information. This is essentially an invoice that tracks where all of your liquor comes from and how much it costs, so you can later track exactly where it’s going and how you’re profiting. If possible, opt for an online inventory system that will help you automate this process.

Before you start inventory calculations, it’s important to have all of your ducks in a row.

You should have an inventory spreadsheet for each given period. Whether that’s weekly or monthly, choose a timeframe that works for you. The spreadsheet should include: how much stock you started with at the beginning of the period, how much you gained (bought) throughout the period, and how much you have at the end. Its also helpful to break up your stock into three sections: beers, wines, and liquors.

restaurant inventory spreadsheet template

Food cost is one of the largest expenses for the restaurant, and one of the most overlooked areas for improvement and control.

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Conducting Inventory

Once you’ve created an accessible spreadsheet, go through your bar and take stock of each bottle, case, and keg. Record the name, brand, and amount of alcohol that’s left in each bottle. Most restaurants use the tenths model, where you’ll record measurements in tenths. For example, a “half full” bottle would be marked as “0.5”. Be sure to include notes on all of your liquor sources, whether that’s in the back cooler or at the front of the bar.

Then, you can use an inventory formula to see where you’re at. Take your starting inventory, add it to the inventory you received during the period, and subtract your ending inventory. This will provide you with your end usage, meaning how much liquor you’ve used during a given period. Keeping a working spreadsheet is also helpful because it can reveal how much liquor you have in stock on a given day. This is an especially valuable piece of knowledge for busy nights and weekends.

Training Employees

As with many restaurant operations, tracking inventory requires you to educate your employees. Train them to report on the inventory, especially when something goes wrong or a significant amount of liquor is lost. If a bottle gets broken or spilled, for example, that needs to be reported. They should also take into consideration liquor that’s given out for free, whether that’s for a special celebration or an after work drink.Last but not least, don’t try to do all of your inventory by hand. Instead, opt for a bar POS system that can automate tedious tasks for you, so you can get back to having fun.

Check out Upserve’s Restaurant Inventory Management guide!

See How Upserve POS Can Assist in Your Bar Inventory Management!

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As a professional copywriter, Dan typically spends his days buried in a booth at a local coffee shop. Ideas flow best with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other. Dan has written for Entrepreneur Magazine, Military.com, and other media publications.