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4 min read

Many bars have hundreds of free dollars sitting on a shelf in free liquor they’ve gotten over the years. Oftentimes, it’s weird brands, or over orders from a past manager. So what do you do with this liquor and how do you extract the money out of it?

First off, if you have a lot of these bottles (I’ve seen bars with over 100), you need to be semi-strategic about which ones to work with first. Start by loosely separating by type of liquor. Then, pick the type of liquor that is closest to what your customers typically order. For instance some bars may tend to sell more fruity drinks and favor vodka and rum while others sell harder drinks and favor whiskey or tequila. The point is to get rid of the easier stuff first, so that you can get quick profit before petering off through the slower selling stuff later. So once you have your type, pick the brand you have the most bottles of. If they’re all the same, just pick one.

Once you have your type and brand, go onto Google or your preferred search engine and type in, [the name of your liquor] drinks. There should be several recipes to chose from. Find one that contains ingredients you already have in house. If you can use or sub in an ingredient with another overstock free bottle that’s even better. Find about 3 different recipes. Take your recipes to the bar and make them. Find out which one tastes the best and is relatively easy to make. If it’s a fruitier drink, and you can make it a vibrant color, it will sell much better.

Once you have your drink, come up with an interesting name. You can use the one from the site you got it from or come up with your own. If there is a holiday coming up you can play they name off of that, such as Ichabod Orange, The Angry Groundhog, Sunshine Sling, Elf’s Elixir, or the like. Make sure it’s at least about a month before the holiday, selling Cupid’s Kiss on March 9th gets a bit difficult. The goal is to make it catchy and fun, but not necessarily tell you exactly what’s in it. You want people to ask, which gives your bartenders and servers the opportunity to sell it.

Once you have a drink and a name, pick a price. Keep this price right in line with your regular drinks. If your standard call level drink is $5, make it $5. You could maybe even go a bit higher if the drink tastes really good. You want to introduce it as a specialty drink. If you price it too low you lose out on the revenue you would’ve gotten had they ordered a standard drink, so don’t sell yourself short. If the drink doesn’t sell well for about a month, then you can consider lowering the price, but keep it higher to start with.

Now, you need to let people know about your new drink. In a prominent place in your bar, whether on a chalkboard, markerboard, or mirror behind the bar put the name of your drink and the price. Once again, I would avoid writing extra detail as you want customers to ask about it. Half the time they’ll just order it without even knowing what’s in it.

If you don’t have a chalkboard, markerboard, or mirror, you can put out table tents, a poster, or other display or buy one of the above items if you have a spot to put it.

I would recommend doing no more than three drinks at a time. Any more than that and it’s too hard to market. Plus you’ll have to account for extra bottles in the bar, and you’ll move through each of them slower. I’ve had the best results with one or two at a time.

Just these simple steps can help chip away at your overstock free bottles and help to make you some quick cash. Start to move through your bottles and guests will be waiting to try the next specialty drink.