Bartending Basics

Aaaaahhh! The Pour! Pouring drinks, a part of bartending basics, is a subject talked about for endless hours by every bar owner and manager for years. Let’s put this to bed once and for all, OK.

Let’s face it, pouring drinks is where you make your money! A subject not to be taken lightly. But bartending basics are often misunderstood.

Hand in hand with the actual pour, is the bartender. I know you all are shaking your heads. First lets take the bartender.


The bartender is responsible for many things behind the bar. But for this article, we are going to talk about the pour,and bartending basics.

I love when a customer comes to the bar and asks for, let’s say a rum and coke. The customer will say “I’ll have a rum and coke, and make it a good one”. This aggravates me to death. Another cheap skate.

Your reply should be one of two answers. First, “All my drinks are good”. That usually shuts them up. Or, you say ” did you want a double?” Ninety nine times out of a hundred, they will say no.

You as a bartender, are not doing the customer a favor by pouring them a strong drink! Let me repeat that. You are not doing the customer a favor by pouring them a strong drink! Not to mention you are stealing from the owner. Yes, stealing!

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Many bartenders think that if you pour a stronger drink for a customer, that you will receive a larger tip. WRONG! I’m not sure who taught these people about bartending basics, but they are way off base.

Generally, a person knows their tolerance for alcohol. And they don’t want to choke on the first sip either. If you over pour, that person is going to get drunk faster then they normally do. Who does this benefit???

Bartending basics will tell you that pouring a standard drink allows this customer to stay around longer and socialize. Instead of having three drinks, they will be there for five or six. If the customer leaves after the second or third, you lost the sales, and profits, for the other two or three drinks! Nothing like throwing money away.

If you don’t believe this, you need to get out of the bar business! Pouring drinks is not your strong suit. Neither is common sense!

You mission is to make you drinks in accordance with the owners wishes, keep their area clean, and don’t make them wait for the next one. Getting them drunk does no one any good.

Ideally, finding a good bartending school to learn bartending basics is the smartest thing to do. Or learn by a seasoned pro. I know a few people who have actually made a good career being a bartender, not to mention a good, consistent living.
Bartending College Online

will guide you and teach you how to be a professional bartender, and learn some bartending basics. Don’t learn from wanna b’s and know it all’s. Learn from professionals like this. And, if you don’t live in their area, they have an online course! So what are you waiting for? Bartending basics need to be taught well, or you will be just an average bartender.


The pour or should I say, pouring drinks, is usually the hardest thing for people to learn. I have had people train to tend bar and have every attribute, except the ability of pouring drinks. I don’t know? There is just something about it. Some pick it up right away. Some take a great deal of time.

I love to train a new person and teach them about pouring drinks, and bartending basics. Also, they have no bad habits to break, not a know it all, and eager to learn and please. After hiring a new bartender, the best thing to do I have found is to give them an empty bottle of liquor, show them how to hold it by the neck of the bottle, not the base.

Also, give them a jigger for pouring drinks. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I have added this picture. It looks like an hour glass. This is bartending basics! And it works.

This is two sided and comes in different sizes. It may hold a measurement of say, one ounce on one side and half ounce on the other side. But the sizes will vary in accordance of what your needs are.

So, the next thing you need to provide is the pourer. The pourer comes many ways of which we will describe in just a minute.

Now, show your new bartender how they should be pouring drinks. Now this is a little hard to explain in words. but basically, if they pracice this at home, they will become fast, won’t shake and spill your liquor all over the place, and they will become confident. It’s part of bartending basics.

Remember, after you pour the liquor in the jigger, you return the jigger upside down on your bar mat so the liquor drains out. No, it doesn’t need washed. The only time you will rinse these out will be when you pour a heavy, syrup type alcohol, like Kahlua, or Creme de Menthe, or something like that.


Now some people use a shot glass when pouring drinks. This is bartending basics taught by inexperienced people. The problem being is the sizes they come in. Some bar owners buy a shot glass for the look. Therefore, a bartender may pour a drink by pouring to the top of the glass where in fact the line on the glass is the measurement. It creates problems. If you only go to the line, customers feel they have been short shotted. Trying to explain they did in fact get a full shot, but it’s only to the line, will be like talking to a wall. Believe me!

You are far better off using a jigger rather then a shot glass when pouring drinks. This is bartending basics rule number one.


Pouring drinks, in a one ounce jigger, in an eight ounce glass, with ice filled to the top, is an ideal drink. The drink tastes good, just enough liquor, and the customer will drink in just the right amount of time. These are bartending basics that people ignore or never learn.

Now let’s talk about the infamous automatic pourer.


You will find many opinions on the subject, but I’m telling you, these are the best things since sliced bread!

And when you use these, it becomes easier to watch your bartenders. This is great bartending basics at work. You see, you can be talking with someone, and watching the bar(like your supposed to be doing) and if you see a bartender tip that bottle upside down more then once, there are not pouring a standard drink! So when you walk over and the bartender just made a rum and coke and that bottled tipped more then once, they are over pouring. (I call it stealing!)

For those of you not familiar with the way the work, it’s pretty simple. You tip the bottle to pour and it automatically shuts off. In order to get any more liquor out of it, you have to bring the bottle back down, and tip it up again.


Let’s say your bartender over pours a drink that costs you seventy cents a one ounce shot. Let’s say they over pour by a quarter of an ounce,(boy, if that’s all it was)that means that every time a drink is poured, you lose seventeen and a half cents per drink!

So now let’s say that you have a night club that does five hundred people in a night. Say they only drink three drinks each. That’s fifteen hundred drinks in the course of the night. So that means the over pouring will cost you two hundred sixty two dollars and fifty cents! Per Night! And that’s only if they over pour a quarter of an ounce! What if it was more!!

Now are you gettin my drift? These pourers are invaluable. Some people will tell you they don’t work right, or they are not accurate. Bull____!

These automatic pourers work well for pouring drinks and are reliable. But like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you decide to buy a generic pourer at a third of the price of the major manufacturers, they may not work that well. Spend the money and get the good stuff! After, it’s your money!

As far as maintenance goes, they are like everything else in life, including your self, it needs maintained. You need to wash the pourers once a week in warm soapy water, then rinsed. Sure, once in awhile, one will go bad, but not often. And look at the money it saves you.

These will pay for themselves from you savings in less then a week. Not bad!
And let me clear up some confusion on how to use these pourers. I received an email from a viewer that worked in a large nightclub holding 2500 guests per night. Below is what he wrote:

May I ask what bartenders who are using Accu-Pours are supposed to do when a drink calls for 1/2 ounce or 3/4 ounce? And, similar to your example with bartenders pouring into a shot glass, how do bartenders know how full to fill a jigger? And, what about how extremely slow jiggers are. My venue does 2,500 people per night. I can’t be losing revenue because bartenders are forced to use a jigger.

I couldn’t reply to this person as they filled out one of my survey forms, of which I don’t ask for an email address. I use this form to survey you, my guests, to see what type of information you would like to read about and don’t ask for personal information. If you would like to ask a question that is not too lengthy, please use my contact page, or click on “contact” on any of my pages.

Now to answer his questions. Automatic pourers are great for what they do. But none are perfect and are going to work in all circumstances. To answer the first part of this, when you pour something less then a shot, of whatever ounce you use, the pourer will pour freely until you reach the point of shut off. So you can pour less by free hand or by using a jigger.

Let’s say that in your club you consider a shot to be one ounce. So you purchase one ounce automatic pourers. If you have a need to pour a half of a shot, in this case a half ounce, you can do it in one of two ways. You can free pour it, or you use the other side of your jigger. So you already have one ounce jiggers on hand as that is the size if the shot you pour. But when you flip the jigger around, it is half the size of the other side. In this case, the jigger is a one ounce measure on one side and a half ounce measure on the other side.

Now, as far as a drizzle, or three quarters of a shot, this has to be done by free pouring. This really is no problem in the grand scheme of things.

As a whole, these pourers, in my opinion will save you money, and your customers will get a drink the way it is supposed to taste.

Let me put it this way. In the bar and nightclub business you are making your money from two sources. One, is the cover charge. If you have a turnstyle installed, you will not lose one red cent. The second way, is from the sales of booze. And when you do your numbers at the end of the week and your booze cost are in line, you have no problems. Yes, when you work your percentages and they come out right, that doesn’t mean it accounts for every drop, but it’s close enough.

But if your costs don’t come out right at the end of the week, you have lost money. Not a good place to be! And free pouring can get you there. It’s your money, and life is full of choices, so you need to make the right choice for you and your club. But bartending basics will help you to be profitable.

As you can see from the example pictures above, they come in a few styles. The ones pictured above are from a company called
Precision Pours.

And no, I don’t make any money mentioning their product.

These are just a few thought on bartending basics. To learn more, you need to stop over and see George, at the Authenic Bartender site.

He has lots to show you and teach you.

Also, I’ve added a survey form that I would sure appreciate it if you would take a minute and fill out. It asks some basic questions like, what topics would you like address or go into more detail about, how big is your club, what kind of music do you play, etc. This information helps me to continue to offer the best information in this industry. Thanks for stopping by bartending basics.

Bartending basics is just another part of Night Club Management. So click here for more information.

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  1. […] is a pain at first. After you know what your doing, it’s so easy that anyone can do it. Setting drink prices? Take a look at my bar tending basics page. Let me ask […]

  2. Lia says:

    This is very informative, yet proves why so many people prefer local sports bars rather than most clubs and popular venues. the owners are cheap as hell

  3. Warren Wills says:

    My girlfriend thinks that bartending is a very sexy job and I am actually looking for a job myself so I plan to give it a try. I did some research on bartending and I am currently is looking for reviews on bartending school in Las Vegas that offers some training courses and classes before I enroll for one. I did found some informational websites online. My research progress brought me to your website and I hope to learn more from you. There’s still a lot to learn before I could be an aspiring bartender. Please post more information like this one. I am very thankful for this and I will continue to keep an eye on your website. Thank you so much.

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