How to Inventory a Bar

Updated July 20, 2017

Bar owners and managers must keep track of bar inventory in order to keep costs down and keep the establishment profiting. Depending on many factors concerning the business, bar owners may choose to conduct inventory daily, monthly or periodically. Bar owners have several methods and systems of inventory taking from which to choose. Some methods utilise the newest technology while others require only a pencil and paper. Choose which method best suits the budget and needs of your bar.

Write down each bar product you have. Make a categorised list by liquor (vodka, rum, cordials, etc). Or, arrange the list according to how you have arranged the bar, starting with rail liquor and moving to each different area of the bar. If you choose, include juices, garnishes and mixers.

Inventory your bottles using the 10 point method. This simple method requires no technology. Look carefully at each bottle and envision ten marker lines equally spaced horizontally along the bottle. Estimate the fullness of your bottle depending on where the liquor hits the marker lines. Score your bottles on a scale of 1-10 with "10" representing a full bottle. Don't forget to consider the lesser volume held in the necks of bottles. For more precision, use a ruler to measure into smaller segments.

Take note of the inventory numbers for each bottle. You will need a chart or worksheet on which you can mark the level of your current bottle of liquor as well as the number of bottles you have in back stock. You may prefer to use liquor inventory software if you find making a chart time consuming or confusing. Bar Crop sells a liquor inventory software with "complete inventory tracking capabilities." (See Reference 1)

Use Scannabar, a precise, technology based method that boasts higher performance and accuracy. The ruler and scanner method in the Scannabar system tracks each bottle of liquor from "the receipt to the recycle bin" and provides "up to the drop inventory control." (See Reference 2)

After recording the volume and back stock of each bottle, keep your inventory records neatly organised or saved on your computer. Analysing inventory trends over a period of time can help a bar owner determine product loss and changes in product demand.


To further prevent inventory loss, utilise loss prevention devices like measured pour spouts. These spouts cut off the pour after a certain amount and ensure your bartender's don't over pour or over serve customers.


Failure to take inventory can result in major profit loss for bars and restaurants.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil or pen
  • Liquor inventory worksheet
  • Liquor inventory software
  • Inventory tracking device
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About the Author

Alicia Mae Webb is a writer, filmmaker, social media manager and more. She has several full-page "dining review" articles published in "Carlsbad Magazine" and currently manages her travel blog and YouTube channel- AMaeTV. Formerly, she managed the boutique apron company, Adora Aprons, and has gained her sewing and crafting expertise through this experience and others. Alicia holds a Bachelor of Science in photography/ film and is constantly producing written and filmed content from around the world.