There is no question that for a bar to be successful, it must always be well-stocked with liquor. One of the most important bar manager duties is making sure you never run out of any essential items. You must stay on top of your liquor inventory. That's why we created this full bar liquor list for all the folks out there wondering how to stock a bar.
How to Stock a Bar? Use a Full Bar Liquor List.
In this blog post, we will walk you through how to do bar inventory and stock your bar properly using a downloadable liquor list. Maintaining a properly supplied bar is an important bartender duty. Deciding what mix of liquor to maintain at your bar is a challenge, here’s a quick guide to get you started with your basics:
Equal supplies of:
And twice the amount of:
Plus non-alcoholic mixers like:
- Club Soda
- Tonic Water
- Coca Cola or Pepsi (plus diet)
- 7-Up or Sprite (plus diet)
- Orange Juice
- Tomato Juice
- Margarita Mix
For every liquor, there are three levels of inventory that you should be familiar with:
- Well—Well liquor is what your bartender will use when your guest doesn’t name a specific brand in their drink order. It is generally the most inexpensive liquor at the bar and what's used in the drinks every bartender knows.
- Call—This is what your bartender will use if your guest requests a specific brand for their orders like Tanqueray. To put it simply, they ‘call’ for a certain brand. ‘Call’ liquor tends to be the more popular brands but is generally not the most expensive.
- Top Shelf—Also referred to as ‘premium.’ These are usually the most expensive items in your bar as they carry a more refined reputation. Most bars will have these on display to pique guests’ interest and to upsell drinks.
Each level represents an increase in quality that will help you price your liquor accordingly. When stocking and purchasing your liquor, aim to maintain a par for all three. If your bartenders follow the standard pour and master the free pour, you can make the most out of these liquors.
- Vodka—For vodka, we recommend stocking between 2 to 3 bottles for each level. In terms of liquor bottle sizes, we're referring to fifths here. If you want a flavored vodka, stick with a brand of citrus one since it’s the most versatile.
- Gin and Rum—Similar to vodka, around 2 to 3 bottles of gin and rum for each level should be enough for your bar. We do recommend trying to stock multiple kinds of rum to have a wide variety of selections for your guests. For gin, try to map it out based on the intensity of the botanicals on the palate.
- Tequila—For tequila, you should aim to have at least 3 bottles of each level. One thing to pay attention to is that tequila’s quality can vary drastically, so make sure to test them out before purchasing.
- Whiskey—Have at least 4 bottles of whiskey ready at your bar. You can start with the basics such as Bourbon, Rye, Irish, and Scotch. Once you have a better understanding of your guests and what they usually order, you can expand your whiskey selections.
- Vermouth—There are two types of vermouth, sweet and dry. Even though your bartender will be using more sweet than dry, aim for at least 2 bottles of each type ready at your bar.
- Triple Sec—It is easy to miss Triple Sec in your basic liquor list when stocking, but that is why a liquor inventory checklist becomes useful! Have at least 2 bottles of Triple Sec. You’d be surprised how many drinks it's in.
- Bitters—Stock 2 bottles for Old Fashioned and Orange types. To be safe, you can stick with the basic ones like Angostura Old Fashioned or Regan’s Orange Bitters.
When stocking on wine, we recommend having at least 2 bottles of light-bodied wine along with two more of richer, full-bodied options. This applies to both your red wine and white wine. There are many wine bottle sizes, so stick to a size you know you'll use before the alcohol goes bad.
For sparkling wine, you can go lighter on quantities and have one bottle at your bar. No need to buy a case of wine here. The one you choose should be good enough to enjoy on its own. It also shouldn't overpower other ingredients in cocktails when the recipe needs a sparkling wine topper. Just stick to the standard wine pour and you can maximize the profit from this bottle.
- Draft Beer—Have 4 kegs for Light Lager/Pilsner, Amber Ale/Pale Ale, IPA/Double IPA, and Porter/Stout. If you pick your styles well enough, you can have a pretty full selection from just these four taps. Just make sure your bartenders track keg inventory and know how to pour beer so you don't waste too much.
- Bottled and Canned Beer—Stock up around 4–6 bottles at your bar. Think of your bottled and canned beers as a supplement to your draft program. And don’t forget to stock at least one cider to have an option for gluten-free drinkers!
For your convenience, we put together a free downloadable full bar liquor list. Keep it handy while stocking your liquor inventory.
Customize your list to fit your bar’s unique needs. Don’t be afraid to add items to expand your beverage program or remove any items that aren’t selling well. Work with your sales reps and build close relationships with your beverage distributors so you can get your bar stocked properly with good deals.
When taking inventory for the entire bar, you can use a bar inventory spreadsheet and take inventory manually. Or you can automate the process with bar inventory software. Depending on how busy your bar gets, the bar inventory can be done either daily or weekly. Just don't wait until an item runs out completely to order more. And don't forget: liquor isn't the only thing your bar needs. Check out our list of bar and restaurant cleaning supplies, too.
If you find this article helpful, contact us to learn more about BinWise Pro. It's a beverage inventory management system that helps you run your bar more effectively. You’ll save time, avoid mistakes, calculate your bar’s usage within a few minutes, and take your inventory faster.