bar operations procedures


Bar operations involve careful handling; of all kinds of alcoholic drinks and converting their contents into revenue. Standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the establishment must be strictly followed during the service. The bar staff is completely responsible for the drinks received from the cellar and must maintain the record of bottles received, returned, quantity of drinks sold, revenue generated, breakages, spillage, beverage cost percentage, etc. and also for the guests' satisfaction.

Steps involved in Bar Operations

To make the bar operations successful and to control the cost effectively, the following initial steps must be taken.
Establish the drink size for straight drink.
Standardize the recipes for all cocktails and other mixed drinks.
Standardize the size and shape of the ice to be used.
Standardize the glassware in which the drinks are to be served.
Finalize the method of pouring the drink—freehand pour/automatic pourer/electronic pouring device, etc.
Finalize the mixes and juices to be stocked in the bar.
Standardize the complimentary snacks to be offered during the drink service.
Calculate the selling price per drink based on the bar profit (gross profit) aimed at achieving.
Establish control system—both cost and revenue.
The starting point for beverage operations and control is establishing standard portion size for 'straight drinks' and standard recipes for 'mixed drinks'. All bar staff must ensure that it is followed throughout the operation. Without establishing the standard drink size and standard recipes, it will not be possible to ensure consistency in the quality of products and service extended to the guests and will be difficult to control the cost and arrive at meaningful information. The objectives of standardizing the size and recipes of the drinks are to
• Monitor and check if there is any deviations from SOP
• Compare and analyse the potential and actual cost
• Ensure consistency in quality of products and service
• Assist in training the staff
• Fight against the internal and external malpractices
Establish drink size
To know how much of revenue will be generated through sale of drinks from the stock received, bartenders must know the size of the drinks for straight and cocktail drinks. Each bar may standardize its own serving size and it must be clearly displayed or printed in the wine list for the customers to know and for the bartenders to serve accordingly.
Wines, Beers, cider, spirits and fortified wines, vermouth, and liqueurs must be sold in accurate measured quantities.
Standardize the recipes for all cocktails and other mixed drinks
In the preparation of cocktail and mixed drinks, two or more ingredients and sometimes garnish, such as cherry, olives, etc. are used. In order to ensure the consistency in size, quality, taste, and the presentation, the cocktail and mixed drinks recipes should be standardized. They help in maintaining the consistency in quality and controlling the cost of the drinks.
In the cocktail recipe, the ingredients, yield, the type and quantity of ice, the method of mixing the ingredients, and the glass in which it should be served should be mentioned. The cost involved in the preparation of each standardized cocktail should be calculated and the selling price fixed up based on the gross profit percentage required. A photograph of each cocktail may be taken for reference and training the new staff. The printed copies of standard recipes are kept in the bar, training department, and the control department.
Standardize the size and shape of the ice
Ice is available in many sizes and shapes. How much of ice and what shape should be used per portion should be standardized.
Standardize the glassware in which the drinks are to be served
glassware is the most important stock required for the bar operations and they are available in variety of shapes, sizes, and quality. The quality of glassware used in the bar is very important as it enhances the appearance and image of the drink it holds and also the profile of the bar. For example, cognac served in inferior quality glassware brings down the reputation and image of the drink and an ordinary brandy served in high quality brandy snifter looks impressive in the glass. Each drink should be served in the appropriate glass. For example, red wine in red wine glass, white wine in white wine glass, champagne in champagne tulip, etc. Having too many varieties of glasses also pose a problem of not only involving huge investment and more storage area but also resulting breakages of similar glasses as and when required may be difficult For a practical season, many bar operation settle down for very few varieties of glasses and one variety may be used for two or three types of drinks.
The management must decide the type of glass for each drink according to the quantity to be served. For example, the management may decide to use 'old-fashioned/rocks' for all spirits if ordered 'neat' and the 'highball' if ordered 'with any mixes'. So, the bar needs only two types of glasses as far as spirits are concerned. Some bars may exempt Cognac or brandy and use brandy balloon or snifter only when it is served 'neat'. For beers, it may consider either beer mug or beer goblet.
Glassware should be washed immediately after its use as the dirty glasses are the breeding ground for germs. Never touch the inside of the glass, rim, and outside of the glass below the rim. Always handle the glasses by their base or stem. Carry the clean glasses upside down on a salver or tray lined with clean mat or cloth and carry the used glasses upright.
Finalize the method of pouring the drinks:
There are three methods of pouring liquor.
Free hand pouring: This method is a subjective form of pouring in which the bottle with the pourer is turned upside down at full force. The bartender counts in his/her head one, two, three at his/her practiced pace to get an ounce or whatever is the standard measure. However, this is not an accurate method and hence not recommended.
Pouring with shot glasses or jiggers: The two basic types of measurers are shot glasses and jiggers. Shot glasses are used for basic spirits served neat or with mixers—for example, 1 oz. 1 ½  oz. or the equivalent in metric measures. The jigger is usually made of stainless steel and measures smaller quantities of ingredients for cocktails. These measuring devices have line marking to measure accurately.
Automated pouring device: Automatic pourers are available that can be inserted into opened liquor bottles which measure the liquor poured and cut off automatically when the preset quantity is dispensed. Many of the operations use mechanical or electronic pouring devices for accurate and fast pouring. Some electronic measuring and pouring devices may be connected to registers that automatically record each pour and its quantity with sales value. This facilitates effective control.
Automated pouring system is better than the other methods of pouring liquor. However, this system involves cost. Following are the advantages of automated dispensing system:
* Spillage is reduced.
* Billing problems are eliminated as the prices are pre-programmed. As and when drinks are poured, bill is automatically generated.
* Drinks are poured accurately.
* It is very quick and saves labour.
* Dishonest employees are prevented from stealing or giving away free liquor.
* Performance of the bar can be easily analysed.
* It has better operational control.
Mixes and juices to be stocked in the bar
Most customers prefer mixing their drink with tonic water, soda, juices, and other effervescence drinks other than water. In the market, there are wide ranges of juices and flavoured effervescence drinks that are available. The bar may decide to stock selected juices and effervescence drinks that it wishes to mix with the drinks. The quantity of drinks chosen is decided according to the volume of the business. Some bars use handgun that dispenses the carbonated mixes at the press of a button.
It consists of a head with nozzle and seven push buttons and each button is assigned to a particular type of drink the bar wishes to serve. It normally dispenses plain water, soda, tonic water, cola, 7-Up, ginger ale, Sprite, etc.
Complimentary snacks
Along with the drinks ordered, most bars serve some varieties of snacks free of cost. The snacks and its quantity to be served with the drinks should be decided before pricing the drink. The cost of the snacks is treated as beverage cost, while pricing the drink, since it is considered as part of the product. The type of complimentary snacks served varies from establishment to establishment from simple 'masala puffed rice' to 'chicken tikka' according to its policy. Cheese and pineapple sticks, roasted peanuts, wafers, finger chips, etc. are often served with the drinks.
Fix up the selling price
Alcoholic drinks are served in many ways—neat, with ice, with mixers, or as cocktails. Who will be taking what type of drink and how the drinks will be consumed, etc. cannot be predicted. Some bars offer complimentary snacks and if the guests want to go for some other snacks then they will be charged extra.
Let us assume following three situations where the guests are having house brand (well brand) of spirit:
Guest 1 wants to have whisky on the rocks.
Guest 2 wants to have whisky with soda and ice.
Guest 3 orders for whisky 'neat'.
 All three of them are having whisky but guest 3 has only whisky without any addition that is in the simplest form and guest 2 takes whisky with ice and soda in an elaborate way. The cost involved in the above cases will be as follows.
Guest 3; the base cost, less than the cost involved in the case of guests 1 and 2.
Guest 1: More than the cost involved in guest 3, as his/her drink includes the cost of ice.
Guest 2: More than guest 1. As his/her drink includes the cost of ice and soda.
 All three will be served complimentary snacks.
The selling prices will be the same for all the three situations.
Now let us see the pricing process. Though bars may adopt different methods of pricing the product, the following method is often followed as it is easier. — Calculate the total cost of ingredients involved per portion of a drink.

30ml drink 75
Cost of ice 4
Cost of mixes 10
Snacks 15
Total cost 104
- Decide on the gross profit required. Gross profit is the excess of sales over beverage cost. In bar operations, gross profit is also termed as bar profit
Gross profit/Bar profit required: 60%
Apply the formula to find out the selling price.
                                      Cost per portion
Selling price = 100 x _____________________
                                       Beverage cost %
100 x cost/ beverage cost% = 100x 140/40=260 rs
The selling price per 30 ml of spirit, however it may be consumed with mixers or without mixers and with ice or without it, is rs.260. The cost of complimentary snacks is covered.
The selling price includes the cost of soda and the complimentary snacks that are offered. It should be remembered that not all will be taking their drinks with soda and those who take with soda will not consume entire bottle of soda. This will be shared by their company and hence the consumption of soda will be less. The management is benefitted from the sale of neat and on the rock drinks as the cost of additions is included while pricing.



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  2. Thank you for Great Article!!
    Golden Bee is a new city lounge & cocktail bar located on Old Street of Shoreditch, London with a newly refurbished upstairs bar, terrace & spacious rooftop bar & area.


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