Bar Inventory: Should You Weigh or Point Count Your Bottles?

October 4, 2017

|Dave Allred

Last week I got in a debate with a bar manager named Trevor who contended that his point counting ability was as accurate as any other inventory counting method out there.

What struck me the most wasn’t that he believed this, but the conviction of the belief, like a father who is certain his 23-year-old daughter’s innocence is still intact, despite the fact she has been living with her boyfriend for 2 years.

“I have a sharp eye,” he told me. “Always have. I used to belong to a gun club and I could hit a nickel from 250 yards without breaking a sweat.”

I wasn’t sure how sweaty one could get from lying on the ground and moving your index finger a quarter of an inch to pull the trigger, but I do know that Trevor isn’t the only old school manager I run into who trusts his own judgment and abilities over technological ones.

“How about a test?” I asked him.

“What do you mean?”

“Your point counting method vs. my weighing method. Let’s find out which one’s more accurate.”

“How do you figure on doing that?” he asked.

And so I pulled out my trusty bluetooth scale and showed him:

We grabbed a new bottle of Absolut and weighed it: 60.2 oz.

There was an almost empty bottle of Absolut in the well, so we grabbed that, emptied the rest into a glass and weighed the empty bottle: 26.8 oz.

“Subtract 26.8 from 60.2 and you get 33.4 oz.,” I told him.

“Ok,” he said, a little unsure.

“There are 33.81 ounces of liquid in a 1 liter bottle, and that 0.41 difference (the 33.4) is factored in because of the density of vodka.”

I explained to him that since all the full and empty bottle weights were entered into Bar Patrol App, that the software was able to basically subtract the glass bottle weight and calculate how much liquid was left inside.

“Fair enough,” he said. “Let’s do it.”

We opened the new bottle of Absolut and I poured a random amount of the vodka into a glass so that more than half the bottle was full.

“There,” I said, let’s start with that. “Tell me how much is left in the bottle.”

He stared at the bottle for a few seconds, then squinted and furrowed, his eyes darting up and down the bottle like he was trying to picture it naked.

“I’m going to say 0.72,” he said.

“Ok. Do you always guess that specifically?”

“No, I usually will write down 0.7 or 0.75, but this is a contest.”


I grabbed the bottle, placed it on the scale and watched the amount instantly appear in the Bar Patrol App screen:

47.95 oz.

“What does that mean?” he asked. “That doesn’t show how much is in the bottle.”

“No it doesn’t,” I said. “But watch.” 

I synced the data to the online dashboard and ran the summary report for just that one bottle.



Total liquid in a 1 Liter bottle = 33.81 oz.

Total liquid in the partial bottle = 21.3 oz. (see above)

21.3 ÷ 33.81 = 62.99911 –> 0.63 of Absolut in the bottle


The truth is, besides being sleek and sexy as hell, when it comes to accuracy, the scale simply can’t be beat, and here’s how important it is in this situation.

In most cases the margin of error for point-counting is 10 – 15%. 

In this case, despite his self-proclaimed ability to kill small coins from

2 1/2 football fields away, Trevor confirmed the average margin of error I’m talking about. He was off by 0.9, which is a 13.89% margin of error.

Now let’s pretend Trevor’s bar uses $10,000 in wholesale inventory for the month of September, and that his monthly bar sales are $50,000.

$10,000 x 0.1389 = $1,389 (margin of error)

What does that mean exactly? It means that if he has a 13.89% margin of error in his overall inventory, his numbers will be nearly $1,400 off!

And what does THAT mean?

It means that if his ACTUAL inventory usage is $10,00, and based on $50,000 in sales, his pour cost %–if counted correctly–should be 20%.

But now if his usage shows either $11,389 or $8,611 based on a 13.89% margin of error, his pour cost % will now show either:

22.78% or 17.22%

His pour cost % numbers are now off by almost 3% in either direction.

I explained all of this to Trevor, who sat there still wrinkling his forehead in thought while he scratched an itch on the back of his neck for about 3 minutes.

“Yeah, ok,” he finally said. “I guess that makes sense.”

In the end, I knew trying to get someone like Trevor to change his ways was about as likely as getting my cat to like me, but that wasn’t my goal. I’ve met dozens of owners and managers who, like Trevor, are clinging to the comfort of familiarity and will unlikely ever change their routine despite the fact that their business has flat-lined.

The point was to conduct an experiment so people like you and others out there who are running a business instead of a bar can see the value of weighing bottles vs. point counting them so that you might re-consider new ways to run your business more efficiently, and accurately.

Hope it helped.

Cheers, until next time.


Tags:bar inventoryliquor inventorybar inventory appliquor inventory appbar inventory managementliquor inventory management

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