Last Updated:
April 24, 2024

The worst advice you'll ever hear about liquor inventory management

Optimize liquor inventory for profitability! Learn actionable tips to boost your bottom line and improve restaurant profits with effective inventory management.
The worst advice you'll ever hear about liquor inventory management
Angelo Esposito
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Liquor inventory management is no easy task. Making it even more difficult is the huge amount of misinformation and unhelpful advice available on the web. If you’ve ever searched for information on how to start inventory for a bar or make your process better, you’ve likely come across some of this bad information. If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

Below, we’ll start by breaking down the importance of liquor inventory management. Then, we’ll move into some of the worst advice you could ever hear and what you should do instead.

Why should you invest in liquor inventory management?

Bad advice example #1: Bar inventory management isn’t worth doing.

On the contrary, with the right tips and strategies, inventory is not only worth it, it’s essential to success. You might hear otherwise from fellow bar managers, or question the necessity yourself after spending hours counting bottles. However, before you write it off completely, check out these benefits you can expect from effective inventory:

Never say, “We’re out” ever again

No one likes having to tell customers “no” and they certainly don’t like hearing it. Keeping an accurate count of how much stock you have behind the bar helps you avoid ever running out. You’ll be aware of exactly when you need to place a new order and ultimately, avoid awkward situations with angry customers as a result.

Identify theft

Another situation no one likes to deal with is employee theft. Without conducting inventory, you won’t know how much product you lose every night to free drinks or outright theft. Once you know what you’re losing, you can take steps to address the issue with your employees. Then, you can back it up with reliable information.

Assess spillage and dead stock

While some loss of product is due to theft, much of it is due to benign causes like spillage and dead stock. With an effective inventory process, you can better ensure that your stock isn’t being unnecessarily wasted. If it is, you can implement better stocking practices and retrain your staff. Then, you can check the effectiveness through continued liquor inventory management.

Avoid order mistakes

When was the last time you evaluated your purchase orders? If you consistently place rush orders or run out of stock, you likely have a problem with your purchase orders. Get a better bang for your buck by determining the best schedule to order new product and sticking to it. After all, you can’t achieve this without knowing what you already have on hand and what you need to order.

Optimize your menu items and alcohol brands

Have you ordered Smirnoff for mixed vodka drinks for as long as you can remember? What if there is a better option out there? Bar inventory can help identify opportunities to save on costs like the brand of alcohol used in well drinks. What about your specific menu items?

Which one is the best-selling? Which one’s the worst? How can you add more of what your customers enjoy and remove what they’re not drinking? Sadly, without taking consistent inventory, you’ll never know.

Increase profit

So, what do all the above benefits have in common? They’re all good for your bottom line. In other words, the biggest benefit of taking inventory is putting more money into your pocket. Knowing exactly what you have behind your bar and in your store room leads to:

Now that you know how valuable tracking inventory is for your bar, let’s move on to the advice.

A Comprehensive List of The WORST Bar Inventory Control Advice

Despite the large number of people who claim to be experts on liquor inventory management, there is a lot of bad information out there. However, never fear. We’re here to help you steer clear of the bad advice. These are the 10 worst pieces of advice we’ve heard and what you should do instead.

1) There’s only one way to do inventory.

Many online resources will try to tell you that there’s one perfect way to do inventory. Though, it’s just not true. Actually, the best inventory process will vary from bar to bar and you need to determine what is best for your needs. There are, however, a few general best practices:

2) Just do inventory manually. It’s easier.

Pen and paper might seem simpler at first glance but it’s certainly not easier. With countless bar inventory formulas and endless spreadsheets to file, the potential for human error is huge. Beyond that, pen and paper just doesn’t yield the same data or business insights as software. These insights more than make up for the time and monetary investment.

3) A bar inventory app is too expensive.

On the subject of investing in software, this is a common piece of advice that is just plain wrong. Apps pay for themselves in the form of detailed insights into how to make your business better. For instance, placing more efficient purchase orders and optimizing your menu is much harder to achieve with pen and paper. Additionally, they provide huge time savings by cutting the amount of time you spend in your store room counting bottles.

And, when you think about it, that’s priceless.

4) Only one person should ever do inventory.

Much like there isn’t one perfect way to do inventory, there isn’t one perfect person for inventory either. Many types of inventory software allow for multiple users and it’s best to not let this feature go to waste. Instead, make sure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities when it comes to inventory so nothing falls through the cracks.

5) It doesn’t matter how you organize your bar.

It does matter if you want to make your life easier. Be sure to store similar products near each other and stock them so that it is easy to follow the First In, First Out method. This is when you use the oldest product in your store room first. The method helps bar managers avoid wasting perishable items or serving product that has been sitting on the shelves for too long.

Bonus Tip: When you conduct inventory, organize your software or spreadsheets in the same order as the alcohol is stored. This way, the order is logical and easy to follow.

6) You should have one of everything.

Some advice states that your bar should stock one of everything, from different types of alcohol to different brands of alcohol. However, this isn’t necessary. Instead, be sure you have plenty of alcohol to make your most popular drinks and streamline what you need to order whenever possible. This will not only cut down on costs, but also make inventory easier in the long run since you’ll have fewer individual products.

7) A liquor inventory scale is unnecessary.

Eyeballing might be a popular method to measure how much liquor is left in a given bottle but it is not exactly accurate. And when it comes to effective liquor inventory management, accuracy is incredibly important. For complete accuracy, be sure to invest in a scale so you know exactly how much product you have on hand at any given time. In addition, many software programs offer Bluetooth scale integrations, which makes the job even easier. With integrated devices, you’ll have accurate measurements that will update automatically as you count product.

8) Spillage is unavoidable.

Typically followed by a shrug, this is common advice in the food and beverage industry. It might be impossible to completely eliminate spillage, which refers to lost product due to theft, spills, over pouring or free drinks. However, that doesn’t mean it is entirely unavoidable. In fact, consistent inventory can help identify the areas where spillage is occurring so you can take steps to cut down on mistakes, free drinks, and other causes.

9) Prices should be static.

The economy is always changing and so is the market for alcohol and other supplies. Your prices should reflect that. Additionally, customer tastes are always changing. Drastic price changes are not necessary, or recommended. Nevertheless, you should be evaluating your menu prices to maximize profits on a regular basis, not keeping them consistent forever.

10) Keeping extra stock is a waste.

While it is good advice to avoid dead stock, it doesn’t mean you should never have extra stock. Holidays, promotions, busy seasons, and more are all legitimate reasons to order extra stock of your most popular drinks or seasonal specials. This isn’t dead stock or a bad business practice. On the contrary, it’s a good way to avoid running out of the alcohol you need.

How do you know when to expect a busy a season or what alcohol might be the most popular on particular holidays? The straightforward answer is consistent inventory. Overall, having a record of previous years as well as an idea of what your most popular items are is extremely helpful for planning ahead accurately.

What's next?

You are now armed with the knowledge you need to spot bad liquor inventory management advice and what to do instead. The next best advice we can provide is to download WISK. As former bar owners, we know our app provides the most seamless experience for counting inventory.

With WISK, you won’t have to worry about mistakes, wasting time, or not having enough information. Our easy-to-use interface gives you everything you need to manage your inventory effortlessly, so you can focus on more important things. If you’d like to sign up, please click the button below or visit https://www.wisk.ai/for/wisk-bar-management-software.

Now see your ROI flourish by implementing the invaluable advice offered in this liquor inventory management guide.


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