Glossary: Some bartending and bar management terms to know

Blood alcohol content

Back Bar
The area behind the bar, usually holding call and top-shelf liquors.

A predetermined amount of money given to the bartender or server at the start of their shift.

Bar Back
A person who assists the bartenders. This individual does all the grunt/dirty work but does not serve drinks.

Beer Clean
A level of cleanliness necessary in draft beer lines that is possible via the use of proper cleansing solutions and processes.

Empty bottles. Usually counted at the end of a shift as a check against consumption.

Name brands of liquor a customer “calls” for, such as an Absolut martini. Call drinks cost more than well drinks.

Call Brands
Mid-priced liquor varieties.

Comp Sheet
A sheet where the bartender records drinks that are given away.

Free drinks authorized by management. (Free drinks not authorized by management are called “theft.”)

A fee the customer pays when bringing his/her own wine and having it served in the restaurant.

750 ml, 1/5th of a gallon, 25.4 oz

Flow Meter
A device that is installed in a draft beer line to indicate the amount that is being dispensed.

Free Pour
Pouring alcohol without a measuring device.

A device that measures and pours liquor and soda.

The foam that is floating on top of a beer in a glass. Should be 3/4 to 1 inch.

A device used to measure a specific amount of a liquid. This is normally one of the spirits in a bar. It can be of various sizes but 1 oz is the most popular.

A sweetened, flavored distilled product for mixing or used as an aperitif.

The act, usually illegal, of pouring the contents of one bottle into another.

Miniature bottles of liquors. In some states, this is the only way you can get a drink.

A single liquor served unchilled, without ice, water or other mixers.

On the Rocks
A wine or liquor served over ice.

Par Level
The total amount of an item to be kept on hand. This is set by management to prevent running out and having dead stock.

Par Stock
The items available to the bartenders without going to the store room. Partial and full bottles.

Perpetual Inventory
Inventory amounts on hand determined by what was sold. Does not account for theft, spillage, and overpouring.

Physical Inventory
The actual physical count of liquor, beer, wine and other items that is so important to keeping F&B costs in check. Unless you’re doing continual, thorough physical inventories (on a weekly basis, at least), your inventory costs will almost certainly be higher than they need to be. Inventory helps uncover theft, overpouring, sloppy practices and other problems that are prevalent in the industry.

Point of Sale system. The computerized (usually touch screen) system that replaces cash registers. It is very capable of assisting in getting the sales information recorded more correctly. Usually will cost more than $20,000.

Pouring Cost
A common measurement of bar profits, determined by dividing consumption by sales over a given period. A pouring cost of 25% means it cost the bar 25 cents to generate a dollar in sales, leading to a gross profit margin of 75%.

Premium Liquor
Also “Top Shelf”, The most expensive liquors the establishment serves.

A term sometimes used to indicate the drawing of a draft beer.

Usually means one ounce. Often means the amount of the standard pour for that establishment.

A term for inventory losses, whether by theft, overpouring, waste or other means.

Soda Gun
A device that allows the bartender to dispense various drink mixers. One at every bartender station.

Speed Rack
A rack at thigh level where the well liquors are kept. The most used items are kept here for quick access by the bartender.

Half bottles of wine or champagne, 375 ml.

Standard Pour
The amount management has set as its shot size (Can be 1 1/4, 1 1/2, or more).

Straight Up (or Up)
A drink chilled by shaking or stirring with ice, then served in a stemmed glass without ice. (Beware, this term can sometimes be used to mean “neat,” but technically they’re different.)

Theoretical Inventory
Inventory data gathered by deducting sales figures or amounts dispensed from a running total, as in from a POS or dispensing system. This is often confused with physical inventory, often to the detriment of the establishment. The crucial point here is that theoretical inventory will not uncover many types of theft and other problems that are so prevalent, and so costly, in the hospitality industry.

Top Shelf
The most expensive liquors the establishment serves.

A cocktail mixed without the liquor.

House liquor, the basic liquors (often vodka, scotch, bourbon, gin, tequila, rum, brandy) for use in generic drinks. May also include vermouth, liqueurs, etc., depending on what the establishment pours most often. Usually the least expensive of each type in the establishment, and the one you’ll find in most of your drinks.

X Reading
Information from the register/POS that tells the manager what the sales are at that time without clearing the register.

Z Tape
Information from the register/POS taken at the end of the shift or day that tells the manager what the sales are. This clears the register.