Last Updated:
November 16, 2023

The ultimate cheat sheet for managing your bar inventory system

Streamline bar inventory and maximize profits with our ultimate cheat sheet. Get actionable tips for managing inventory like a pro.
The ultimate cheat sheet for managing your bar inventory system
Ciprian Rarau
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Ultimate Bar Inventory Template™

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.

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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 blog post. 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
  • Maintain sales record, which can be used to identify trends and optimize stock levels
  • Knowing the pour cost of each product
  • Keep tabs on products that sell well and products that don’t
  • Help set better pricing.

How to Manage Liquor Inventory in 5 Easy Steps

Here are a few tips to keep your liquor inventory system in good shape.

1. Record Your Activity

As a bar owner, you must be aware of any changes in the stock. Everything, from product transfers to inventory losses such as testers, broken items, and lost products, must all be reported so that when the appropriate moment arrives, you'll be prepared instead of overwhelmed by irregularities.

2. Conduct consistent inventory counts

In taking inventory, a bar manager should conduct consistent inventory counts in order to have an accurate idea of how much liquor is being used and to ensure that there is no theft. The best time to do a count is at the end of the night when all of the bottles should be accounted for.

  • Step 1. Count all of the full bottles and recorded how many of each type there are.
  • Step 2. Then, count all of the empty bottles and pour out any partially full bottles.
  • Step 3. Add up the total number of drinks that were sold and subtract it from the starting inventory. This will give you a good idea of how much liquor was used and whether or not you need to adjust your ordering.

3. Manage Out-Of-Stock Items

Bartenders understand the pain of running out of stock. When bar customers attempt to order an item that is out of stock, it can create a number of problems. The customer may become frustrated and may not want to order anything else or they may have to spend time explaining why the item is unavailable and trying to upsell the customer on something else.

Of course, out-of-stock items can lead to lost sales and bar profits. To avoid this, a bar manager needs to have a system in place for monitoring stock levels and reordering products when necessary. You can prevent the trouble of running out of stock by keeping an eye on your inventory.

4. Clear Description of Bar Products

In particular, a comprehensive list of your bar items are need to be accurately coded and categorized in accordance with the brand, type of liquor, size, and other relevant attributes like any special features or flavors.

It is essential to first sort your inventory data in order to carry out a successful inventory procedure, which could ultimately save you time and hassle. Additionally, it helps the bartenders with the following:

  1. Make sure they are using the right product when making drinks.
  2. It provides a reference point for liquor inventory levels so that you can quickly identify when something is running low.
  3. It makes it easier to monitor specific items when ordering new supplies.

5. Organizing the Workplace

Before you can implement a systematic bar inventory process, you need to organize your workplace first. This includes creating a storage area for products and supplies, as well as a dedicated workspace for the system itself.

Think about how you will use the space.

It is important to take an inventory of all the items you need to store. This will help you determine the size and layout of the storage area.

Will you need to access it frequently?

If so, consider placing it near the front bar (in front of the room). Alternatively, if you only need to access it occasionally, you could put it in a back bar corner or even in a closet. Once you have a general idea of the layout, start arranging your items accordingly. The shelves and bins are great for smaller items, while larger items can be stored on pallets or in cages.

Create a dedicated workspace for your bar inventory management system

This should be large enough to accommodate all of your equipment, as well as any paperwork associated with the system.

Once everything is in place, you can start using your bar inventory management system to streamline your workflow and inventory tracking.

2 Ways of Taking Inventory

Inventory tracking is a method for any food business to make informed decisions about production and how much it will generate sales. In particular, for bar business, the perpetual inventory and physical count are the two most common ways to oversee stocks to meet demand.

A perpetual inventory system is a method of accounting for sales and inventory that offers several advantages. In a perpetual inventory system, sales are recorded as they occur, and this data is utilized to update the records. This process can be manual or automated, but it typically involves scanning barcodes or using RFID tags to monitor sales. In general, perpetual inventory systems can be complex, but they are often necessary for businesses that need for keeping track of large quantities of inventory.

Physical inventory, on the other hand, is a system of manual counting, usually done at the end of a shift or week. This method provides less accurate data, but it does not require expensive equipment or training. When conducting a manual inventory, businesses will typically use an inventory spreadsheet. This can be created in Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets, or another spreadsheet program. There are also many free bar inventory templates available online. The designated bar staff can enter their inventory items into the spreadsheet and then physically tally the items. The counts are then entered into the spreadsheet, and the total inventory is calculated.

When determining which system to use, it is important to consider the needs of the business. For example, if stock levels are constantly changing or if there is a risk of theft, then perpetual inventory may be the best option. On the other hand, if resources are limited, then physical inventory may be more practical. At the end of the day, it all comes down to whatever works best for the bar company.

What are the components of bar inventory management?

The first step in properly stocking a bar is to have enough on-hand inventory. A thorough beverage inventory allows you to monitor a variety of important bar-related data to help you analyze if your bar business is well-performing financially.

Product Usage

How much of each ingredient do you consume?

Cost of Goods Sold

It's a metric that benchmark the total cost of making all of your beverage menu items.

Product Variance

Where is the portion of your shrinkage (or missed profit) that you're unable to recover?

Also, performing constant hard counts of your bar inventory will allow you to access data that is used for the following:

  • Set par levels for each product based on actual usage data
  • Calculate the pour costs which represent the percentage of liquor cost that is attributable to the liquor itself, as opposed to other factors such as labor, glasses, and mixers.
  • Analyze the product demand to pinpoint excess and unused inventory items to get them off your shelf and make stocking decisions.

Inventory Tracking Tips

Whether you're utilizing a free inventory template online, such as a bar inventory template made with Microsoft Excel or Google sheets, the following tips will help you get the most out of it.

Choose an inventory period and be consistent

What will happen if you miss inventory counts and discover that alcohol spoils?  It is crucial that you accurately track your inventory. Pick your ideal inventory periods and stick to them. Select a time period (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) that works best for you.  The ideal time to count your bottles is when your restaurant or bar is closed. Always begin counting from left to right in the same sequence.

Train your staff and ensure regular inventories

Your bar staff must know the basics of taking inventory. To teach your workers how to account for inventory, begin with an inventory sheet template. Examine whether they understand the rule of tenths and can distinguish shrink (spillage, breakage, or overpouring). All of this information must be included in your bar staff training handbook, which you may use as needed. There are a number of online sources to get a bar inventory sheet, but pick the one that is ideal for your needs.

Record Inventory Logs

In your bar inventory sheet, keep track of things like when the bottle is moved from your cellar, storage space, or warehouse to the bar so you know where your products are. Having an incorrect inventory count may lead to either too little or too much inventory.

Formulate an inventory action plan

When it comes to creating an inventory action plan, you will experience some trial and error. Take time to consider what has worked well for you in the past before settling into a routine. Also, examine your inventory process that may be improved. You should also make a full bar supplies list. Doing so can assist you in determining where your program's weak spots are and how to better optimize the process in the future.

Bar Inventory Template

A bar inventory sheet can be a lifesaver for bar owners and bartenders alike. A good bar inventory template will allow you to keep track of the liquor, mixers, and other supplies of how much inventory you have on hand, as well as help you make sure that you always have what you need to make cocktails.

There are numerous free bar inventory templates online, but it's crucial to choose one that's simple to use and comprehend. Simply enter inventory data into your chosen inventory spreadsheet template or online bar inventory spreadsheet to assess the information in a readable form.

Once you have an inventory template that you like, be sure to update it regularly so that it accurately reflects your current inventory process.

Anatomy of a Bar Inventory Template

The following are the standardized columns used for the inventory spreadsheet template.

  • Date of entry
  • Product brand name
  • Unit price
  • Format (liquor bottle sizes, beer keg sizes, etc.)
  • Beginning inventory, received inventory, ending inventory, total inventory
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)—both by individual unit and total

Should a Bar Manager Use a Spreadsheet for Bar Inventory?

Counting inventory might be time-consuming depending on the size of a beverage program. For some restaurants and bars, it can potentially take a whole day or longer. If you’re a busy bar manager, it is your job to take initiative to look for time-saving inventory methods.

Bar inventory spreadsheets are one useful alternative to taking inventory in place. It is also less expensive, and simple to use. While this may seem like a helpful way to keep track of inventory, there are some disadvantages to using such an inventory spreadsheet. One of the biggest drawbacks is that it can be time-consuming to set up and maintain. This is especially true if you have a large number of products or if your inventory changes frequently.

Additionally, bar inventory spreadsheets can be difficult to share with others, and they may not provide the level of detail that you need to make wise decisions about your inventory. Finally, a spreadsheet can be susceptible to errors, which can lead to costly mistakes.

For these reasons, it is important to consider all of your options before deciding whether or not a liquor inventory spreadsheet is right for you.

Free To Use Liquor Inventory Sheet

There are numerous ways to get a free template and editable CSV file for a liquor inventory sheet. You can print as many copies of our restaurant and bar liquor inventory worksheet as you'd like after downloading it. This makes it ideal for maintaining your bar's stock. It has a section for beer, wine, and liquor.

Bar Inventory Spreadsheet

(Insert template)

Bar Beverage Excel Format Inventory

(Insert template)

Beer Inventory Excel

(Insert template)

Alcohol Beverages Stock Transfer Inventory

(Insert template)

Alcohol Inventory Template

(Insert template)

Alcohol Distribution Inventory

(Insert template)

Liquor Control Inventory Worksheet

(Insert template)

Wine Collection Inventory

(Insert template)

Wine Inventory Spreadsheet

(Insert template)

Bar Inventory management software

Having a well-structured inventory management system is critical for any bar operation in today's competitive market. Bar inventory software has a number of features to help bars operate more efficiently and profitably.

Inventory management software can automate the inventory procedure to make life easier. Businesses may enter their data into the program and set up an automated inventory count.

If you own a bar, make sure you use a trustworthy program that is tailored to your bar company's needs.

  • The system should have a bar scanner to track inventory stocks in real-time so that bartenders can quickly and easily see when items need to be restocked.
  • The system should be intuitive and user-friendly so that bartenders can focus on making individual drinks rather than learning how to use the software.
  • Should be able to integrate with other software programs used by the bar, such as a POS system and accounting software.
  • The software will then generate reports on the inventory list. This can be helpful in reducing errors and in keeping track of inventory stocks over time.

Utilizing a bar inventory management system such as Wisk streamlines bottle counting accurately. To learn more, arrange a demo with Wisk for additional information.

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 many 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.

With these practices in place, your bar's ROI is set to experience impressive growth with this bar inventory system solution. As you see your ROI expand, you'll have the resources to further improve your bar and offer even more to your patrons.


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