WHO DUNNIT? The Race to Identify Liquor Lost

October 22, 2019

Who Dunnit? The Race to Identify Liquor Lost | Überbartools™

At the core of every murder mystery is a race to identify “Who Dunnit”.

The perpetrator of the crime is cunning, usually cloaked in innocence to turn unsuspecting gazes elsewhere in the search for the truth..

Of course what's a mystery without a sleuth to find the culprit(s).

The sleuth possess superior deductive powers to help unmask  the villain, usually the least obvious person.

Liquor loss for many bars is a mystery requiring the skills of talented sleuths like Sculpture Hospitality or BarMetrix to discover the who, what and how of why up to 20% of every shot of alcohol poured in a bar is wasted.

When  liquor loss is such an on-going problem a victim is required.. in this case a bar owner/operator and their profits.

At stake potentially tens of thousands of $$$ of lost profits.

A bar pouring just 5 cases of liquor weekly can lose  tens of thousands of dollars yearly, national chain accounts millions of $$$.


1. Inventory: Failures in recording inventory inwards, usage and stock on hand

2. Operations: Procedures and staff training

3. Ullage: Broken and dropped bottles

4. Misorders: Due to human error in transmission or receipt

5. Freebies: Unrecorded complimentary drinks to guests and staff

After a process of elimination if the answer is still inconclusive,  it’s assumed there’s just one thing left to point the finger at:

6. Theft: Staff theft

And that’s usually where the mystery ends, staff fired, with things going back to normal, or does it?

12 years ago Uberbartools™ was presented with the above conundrum;  we had a victim (the bar owner/operator) with the assumed motivation for the crime, money, yet there seemed to be  no conclusive proof any of the above 6 suspects were to blame..

At this point we were left  with 2 possible options:  delve deeper or accept liquor loss was a possible combination of all the above.

Working from the premise what if we ruled out all 6 casual factors, was there anything left?

Surprisingly there was,  something so obvious we totally missed or dismissed it, because the eventual answer was so  obvious no one bothered to check their Speed Pourers and Liquor Measures; the  very items used in a bar to minimize or eliminate loss in the first place.

To understand how the most obvious was not obvious at all we needed to understand what happened.

But first we had to go back a little in history.


As the saying goes to know where we’re going we first need to study where we’ve been.

This investigation took us back to around the time of Prohibition in the 1920’s.

Necessity being the mother of all invention, early bartenders needed tools to help get the job done quickly to serve the next customer, nothing strange there right?

As standards were different then, producing cocktails that protected guest outcomes wasn’t part of the thinking as it was all about speed.

Let’s face it, slinging out drinks based on the possibility that the “cops could raid the joint any minute” was a pretty powerful motivator to push out drinks fast.

In this process 4 things seemed to get lost in the art of cocktail making, recently re-discovered: cocktails must be MEMORABLECONSISTENT to taste, PROFITABLY made, valued by a guest to create the NEXT DRINK ordered.


If it’s all about speed, investment in proper tools to get the job done was not considered  important, particularly when market expectations was built around cost (cheap).

Interestingly enough when cost is the criteria for a purchase,  2 things usually are sacrificed to meet a price point namely: quality and accuracy.

Quality sacrificed results in continuing product failure/breakage, the products purchased become by default is a consumable, something not valued, think straws, coasters and glassware.


When price drives demand, there’s really little chance for a manufacturer to make tools more precisely nor invest in finding solutions to the many problems behind a bar, as there’s no incentive.


Regrettably cheap, poorly made tools unintentionally creates a  vicious circle tools of buy, re-buy again and again forever.


If the insurance policy to protect profits relies on cheap, inaccurate tools,  the result of lack of venue investment,  then who does management blame for missing inventory assuming the main casual factors above ( Points 1-5) are eliminated , why it’s the  poor bartender.

So here’s where we’re at ..


Cheaply made, are mostly inaccurate.

Arising cavity volume tolerances av. 3-5mL/serve(1/10 or1/6Oz, making  it’s easy for bartenders to over-pour.

As measures are  round by design,  we know from physics this creates a surface tension or bubble/lens called the meniscus. This adds 3-5mL (1/10-1/6Oz) to a 30mL or 1 Oz serve.

Pouring out from a round measure makes it  easy to spill, a watching  guests expects a bartender to pour more  spirits into their drink to compensate for the spills.. and therein lies part of the wastage issue.


Cheaply made, subject to continuous breakage and replacement .

Some math..

It takes approx.  3 seconds to pour approximately 30mL or 1 Oz( 29.41 in Canada, 29.57mL in the USA) of spirits.

Known as a 3 Count Pour, this “system”  of measurement  is the de facto standard relied on by bartenders and management for pour control.

Without  flow control, an innocent  ½  second reaction time to stop a pour stream results in an additional 5-10mL (  1/6 or 1/3Oz) of alcohol being over-poured.

Here’s what the times equate to in volume:

3 seconds 1 Oz (29.41mL)

2 seconds 2/3 Oz (19.61mL)

1 second 1/3 Oz ( 9.80mL)

½ second 1/6 Oz ( 4.90mL)

Further  spirits loss is caused from bottle neck leakage when corks attached to speed pourers do not seal bottles correctly  creating liquid streaming coming out from  around corks/bottle neck seal.

Thankfully it’s not all gloom and doom, as there’s a cost effective solution to reduce or stop spirit  loss.


A proven combination of innovative Pourers and Jiggers designed to reduce/eliminate the above issues.

Click here to read Pouring and Measuring Solutions for Bars and Pubs.

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