SOWO – Where the War on Waste meets the Scourge of Spillage

September 27, 2018

Spillage, over-pour, wastage, ouch

A busy night behind the bar brings plenty of challenges. Keeping the queues at bay and the customers happy is enough to give even the most hardened bartender the jigger jitters.

When time is of the essence; an inadvertent slip of the hand or bump of the bottle may seem low key but they all culminate in what we call SOWO.

SpillsOver-pouringWastage, Ouch. SOWO shows how all of these minor incidents could add up to be more costly to your business than you realise… which is something none of us have time for.


Often down to ‘flash over function', but sometimes it’s just about pure sloppiness. We’re all for the full customer experience, but when it comes to flair there’s a lot to be said for keeping things tight and slick. It’s fine if flair is your main game, but badly executed fancy moves are a sure-fire way to make a mess.

Uberbartools pourers and jiggers save wastage and overpour

Sometimes staff might need a little more training, or maybe they just need to slow down and take their time. Perhaps they need a guiding hand. Or perhaps they need to just stop showing off! Whatever the case, minimising spills is your first step in saving money.


Over-pouring happens for a couple of reasons. Firstly, due to improper positioning when holding the bottle. If it is difficult to stop or control a pour, then the process is wrong or the tools are wrong. Better tools or increased bartender training will minimise the issue.

The second reason is what’s known as premature pouring. A jigger should be filled and then poured into the glass or shaker – this is a safe pour. However, sometimes bartenders have a habit of dumping the alcohol before the jigger is full and then continuing to free-pour into the vessel. This habit could be quite costly, as every ½ second of pouring time equates to 5 mL (1/6 Oz) of extra alcohol being poured away -  for free!  

Over-pouring cocktails, causes wastage and inconsistency

“If you’d rather eliminate the guesswork, require your staff to use jiggers. Not only will this make your cocktails consistent, it will ensure bartenders aren’t over-pouring and driving up your costs,” says Bevspot


Spills and over-pour are two key signs of wastage, but they’re not the only ones. Did you know round jiggers can cause a meniscus, or bubble, to form on the top of a shot, which often goes to waste? Poor quality tools that break easily and sloppy stocktaking can also add to wastage. Find out more about the spotting the signs of wastage in your bar on the blog.

Which brings us to the ouch part

In an average bar SOWO accounts for a 3-5 mL (1/10-1/6Oz) loss on every 30 mL (1Oz) shot of alcohol served, multiply this by how many serves are poured daily and that’s a substantial volume of liquor forfeited every year.

Wastage caused by spillage and overflow

Mistakes happen at all levels, but recognising bad habits is the first step to stopping SOWO. Pinpointing the difference between an occasional misstep and a pattern of poor performance could make a real difference to your business. 

Removing SOWO from a bar can be done by taking two easy actions:

  1. Introducing bar training programs that continuously re-enforce HOW and WHY you want bar practice to be done
  2. Investing in quality bar tools that will prevent unnecessary waste, over-pour and spillages.

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