Last Updated:
April 19, 2022

The ultimate cheat sheet for managing your bar inventory system

Save time and eliminate errors with this step-by-step guide to managing your bar inventory system.
The ultimate cheat sheet for managing your bar inventory system
Ciprian Rarau
A preview of the downloadble item
Free resource

Ultimate Bar Inventory Sheet™

Are you a restaurant or bar owner that wants to get your inventory under control? With our Bar Inventory Sheet, it's as easy as writing everything down.

Download free
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this information is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You're responsible to comply with all applicable laws in your state. Contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.
Table of Contents

Creating and maintaining a bar inventory system seems simple at first glance, but in practice it can quickly become time-consuming and ineffective. If this sounds familiar, you’ve come to the right webpage. Keep reading for tips on how to better manage your beverage inventory and increase profits along the way.

What is a bar inventory system and why is it important?

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page. On a basic level, having a system in place to take alcohol inventory ensures you know how much supply you have to serve your customers. However, a good bar inventory system accomplishes so much more than that, including:

  • Measuring financial performance
  • Identifying where shrinkage is happening and how to slow down the process
  • Establishing minimum amounts needed for any given product
  • Knowing the pour cost of each product
  • Keeping track of products that sell well and products that don’t

That being said, these components are essential to running a bar or restaurant smoothly and effectively. By keeping track of these metrics, your business will reap all kinds of benefits.

The Benefits of Using a Restaurant Inventory System

Cost Savings

Taking inventory helps you determine what your most popular products are so you can restock them more often. You’ll also be able to avoid ordering too much of the products that don’t sell as well. As a result, you can optimize your menu items to emphasize best-selling or more profitable products and price them accordingly. Knowing ahead of time when you need to place purchase orders can save you money by giving you a window to plan ahead. This puts hard-earned money back into your wallet.

Less Waste

Over or under stocking liquor can be disastrous for your company, causing you to run out of ingredients too soon or take up valuable shelf space with unused bottles. Taking consistent inventory helps avoid these costly mistakes, as does having precise measurements by using a liquor scale app to know exactly how much of any given product is left. If you have multiple locations, taking accurate inventory allows you to efficiently share products between locations.

Better Customer Service

Proper inventory ensures you never run out of your customers’ favorite cocktails again. Additionally, when you use time-saving tools like a barcode inventory management system, you’ll allow yourself and your employees to spend less time on back of the house tasks. Instead, you can focus on what’s most important - the customer experience.

Common Questions About Bar Inventory Management

How do you keep track of bar inventory?

The simplest way is pen & paper or by using  a bar inventory form. However, it’s certainly not the most effective way. Manually taking inventory not only takes more time than other methods, but is more likely to result in mistakes and gaps in information.

The next step up from manual inventory is using a liquor scanner app or other software to help keep track of products, pour cost, and financials. This often requires downloading multiple apps to accomplish everything you need and doesn’t eliminate all manual work if the apps don’t integrate well together.

That leaves the most advanced option - purchasing comprehensive software to manage inventory. A bar manager app can do everything from taking stock of products and placing purchase orders to calculating drink costs, profits, and more.

How do you calculate liquor inventory?

Once your bar inventory system is set up, you’ll need to learn how to count liquor to avoid profit losses caused by excess waste. In other words, you’ll need to find out how much liquor inventory your establishment needs to function. To get these numbers, you’ll need to refer back to your spreadsheet or bar inventory software and find:

  • Number of stock at the beginning of your inventory period
  • Amount of stock at the end of your inventory period
  • Quantity of stock received during this period

Then, plug those numbers into this formula:

Starting Inventory + Received Inventory – Ending Inventory = Inventory Usage Amount

How do you use the information you gather?

  • Set pars

Pars establish the minimum amount of product your bar wants to have in stock at all times. Pars typically change depending on the season and customer preference. So, ideally they need to be calculated at least twice a year or more for the best accuracy.

Pour cost is product used divided by product sold. For example, if your bar used $1,000 worth of liquor and sold $5,000 worth of liquor in one month, your liquor pour cost for that month would be 20%.

  • Prevent theft and shrinkage

Knowing what you have in stock, how much liquor is needed for each drink, and regularly placing orders allows you to better track when theft or over pouring is occurring. You can then set preventive measures to avoid it from happening.

  • Set drink costs

Accurate inventory allows you to price your drinks according to the use of each product, its popularity, and how often you need to place orders. You can also adjust drink prices based on changing factors.

  • Make accurate and on time purchase orders

You’ll never have to worry about ordering too much or too little ever again. If your bar inventory system is effective, you may even be able to automate purchase orders and take them off of your plate completely.

Why should you use bar inventory system software?

There are dozens of reasons to use a bar inventory app. Liquor scanner apps can be used to track exact barcodes and purchase orders can be automated. Additionally, machine learning can be used to improve your bar operations.

Investing in a software is without a doubt the easiest way to manage inventory. Our incredibly efficient app gives bar and restaurant managers everything they need to handle inventory right at their fingertips without having to switch interfaces or deal with multiple customer service teams.

Overall, having an effective and accurate catalog of your inventory is critical to the success of your business. There are many ways to go about keeping a log of products, but many methods are time-consuming, difficult to manage, and riddled with human error.

Why choose WISK?

While this cheat sheet will certainly help improve your bar inventory system, it is still a big time investment and hassle for your employees. Instead of resorting to pen & paper or multiple Excel sheets, make WISK your new bar assistant. WISK was created by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. We understand how painful inventory management can be and that’s why we’ve created solutions to solve these problems. Our experience working on the sidelines gave us all the knowledge we needed to develop a software to manage every part of a bar or restaurant.

Above all, using our software not only cuts inventory time by 80 percent and directly integrates with your POS system, but it makes the whole inventory process 100% stress-free. We’re passionate about making your day to day tasks as simple as possible. Experience everything WISK has to offer by calling us at +1 855-678-9475 or by booking a demo to experience the difference for yourself. Please visit for more information.


Taking inventory should not take hours.