One significant source of losses is ineffective portioning controls. The sales price of a drink is hinged to a specified portion of alcohol and if that amount fluctuates so will its profit margin. The fact that the drink now contains an additional 25% of alcohol only compounds matters. Serving potent drinks reduces the number of drinks people can safely consume and increases the risk of legal liability.
From an operational perspective, protecting profit margins behind the bar begins at the point of pour. Portion controls are a fundamental form of loss prevention. It impacts consistency of product, drink quality and responsible service of alcohol, as well as maintains the margins necessary to turn a profit.
Precision Pours are bottle-attached devices that offer operators a proven alternative to their bartenders free-pouring or measuring with a jigger. Not only are these low-tech control devices effective at reducing over-pouring, they also help prevent under-pouring, an equally vexing problem bartenders use to line their pockets. “Bars are often nickled and dimed into bankruptcy and it happens with almost every flick of the wrist,” says Sandvik. “The culprit is lax or nonexistent portioning controls.”
Over-pouring liquor is a tried and true means of procuring bigger tips. Harmless as it may sound, it’s the house that winds up paying the bartenders’ extra gratuities.
“I was sitting at a bar in the airport in Philadelphia and they had two gorgeous identical twins bartending,” recalls Rick Sandvik, president of Precision Pours. “When they made drinks for us sitting at the bar they would pour over the top of the jigger and tail in almost an extra shot of booze. However, I noticed that when servers ordered drinks for people sitting at the tables, the bartenders under-poured the measure by bailing on it early.”
Having been in the bar business more than 30 years, Sandvik says he’s seen that maneuver frequently. He surmises the bar has tight inventory and that the bartenders were making up for the over-pours by under-pouring the customers sitting at the tables.
THE DOWNSIDE TO over-pouring from the bartenders’ perspective is that it’s easily caught, but not so for under-pouring. One reason bartenders under-pour is to offset previous theft. Another is to rip off the clientele.
The intent behind shorting the portions in a series of drinks is to create a surplus of liquor that is then sold to the clientele and the proceeds are pocketed. For example, a bartender under-pours four jiggers by a 1/4-ounce each, which creates a surplus of one ounce. He can then sell the surplus shot of liquor, pocket the cash and the bar’s pour cost will beunaffected. Often to ensure the shortages go unnoticed, bartenders will prepare the drinks by pouring the liquor on top of the mixer—referred to as “top-pouring.” Even if the guest stirs the drink, the first few sips will taste as usual, perhaps even strong.
Sandvik considers under-pouring an insidious form of theft. “It’s difficult to detect, won’t affect pour cost and takes advantage of the clientele by serving them weak drinks. If the guests notice they’ll naturally place the blame on the bar, not the bartenders.”
Management directives alone won’t stop bartenders from stealing. Policies and procedures are only effective if they’re enforced. In addition, they must be consistently and uniformly applied to all members of the bartending staff. Presuming that the bartenders are operating in compliance with the establishment’s directives invites larceny and financial strangulation.
Sandvik nods in agreement. “Just yesterday I had a call from the manager in charge of the concessions at one of the NFL stadiums. He said he caught his bartenders breaking the ball bearing mechanisms in our pourers, which allowed them to over-pour and under-pour liquor at will. They’ve now had to implement a procedure where the pours are checked in and checked out for each event.”
According to Sandvik, Precision Pours’ control spouts keep honest bartenders honest and force thieving bartenders to look elsewhere to rip-off the house. Although he does concede that wrenching the ball bearings out of pourers levels the playing field considerably.
ESTATE-PRODUCED CLÉMENT is one of Martinique’s preeminent agricole rhums, a traditional style of rum distilled from fresh cane juice rather than black strap molasses. After many years absence, the super-premium brand is once again available in the United States, a venerable range led by critically acclaimed CLÉMENT V.S.O.P. RHUM.
Founded in 1887 by Homère Clément, the estate and plantation are located on the site of an old sugar refinery. The prestigious V.S.O.P. is made in accordance with the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Martinique from a blend of column-distilled agricole rhums and aged for a minimum of three years in re-charred bourbon barrels. It is then transferred to seasoned cognac barrels for an additional year of aging.
Clément V.S.O.P. is a museum-grade spirit. The mahogany-hued rhum has a soft, medium-weight body and voluminous bouquet of spicy, semisweet, bakery-fresh aromas. Its breadth of flavors is magnificent, a savory array of chocolate, fig, ripe plums, amaretto and red wine that slowly fade into a memorable finish.
The distillery’s portfolio also features Clément Premiére Canne, a classy silver rhum distilled from seven varieties of Martinique cane; exquisite Clément Cuvée Homère, an ultra-premium rhum comprised of vintage eaux-de-vie from the previous fifteen years; and Clément Vieux X.O, an elegant and luxurious blend of well-aged, highly prized vintage rhums.
Also now available in the U.S. is amazingly delicious Clément Créole Shrubb, a captivating liqueur made from a blend of silver and aged rhums that are infused with citrus peels, and a mix of Creole spices.