Stocking a bar

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Stocking a bar

Unread postby gman58 » Mon May 14, 2012 10:57 pm

Greetings Bourbon Enthusiasts. I haven't been on the site much lately, nor have I lately even sampled much bourbon. For the past few months my wife and I have been very busy pursuing our goal of finding and buying a restaurant. We have finally achieved that goal and are now the proud owners of a 100-seat restaurant, with.... a full bar. We are both in our mid-50's so some might say we're too old to try something like this (my boss sure did when I resigned from my job). But we figure we've got more than a decade left in us so we'd better go for it. We've both worked in the industry (albeit many years ago) but never as owners so this will be a real challenge.

The restaurant is located in downtown Columbus, OH and is (currently) open 11 to 7 Monday through Friday. Most of the clientele are office workers within walking distance. We do a brisk lunch business and then a small happy hour. Our first plans for expansion will be to get into breakfast service, add Sunday morning service and later get more evening customers.

But back to the bar. When we took ownership last month (April 2012) we took the liquor, wine and beer inventory as it was. Now let me tell you, there were only 4 bourbons (most of the clientele drink vodka and tequila). The four that were there are Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey 101, Woodford Reserve and Echo Spring. So, 3 pretty good pours and one I've never heard of (the Echo Spring).

We recently had to make our first order from the liquor supply so I decided to expand our selection. I got in a bottle of Maker's 46 and one of 4-Roses Small Batch. Why these two? They're 2 we really like. Going forward, additions will have to be sales and profit driven. Buying a bottle that will just sit on the shelf does not help the bottom line. I think the next 'new' item will be Knob Creek. I want to represent each of the major distilleries. I plan to start having a 'bourbon of the week' to get peoples' attention and highlight a product.

Anyway, does anyone have experience with liquor sales and maybe have suggestions on what sells for them? Thanks, George
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby Vital » Mon May 14, 2012 11:46 pm

I would assume Jack Daniels would be a top seller in most places.
Not a bourbon but close enough. :D
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby Satty Beach » Tue May 15, 2012 10:42 am

I'd go with a mid afternoon tea/espresso snack special in lieu of breakfast. Breakfast changes the whole dynamic and nobody eats lunch/dinner in a restaurant that serves breakfast unless it's a hotel or MacDonalds. And nobody wants to eat breakfast in a bar. Well MOST people. Oh damn this has to be troll post. Too late. Just load up on fruit loops and coco puffs flavored vodka and everything will be fine.
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby bourbonv » Tue May 15, 2012 11:36 am

You could go with a bourbon theme and be a great bourbon bar in a city that probably does not have one. You could do as one here in Louisville did and have a "Presidential breakfast". Harry Truman ate the same thing every morning - 1 egg, 1 strip of bacon, a cup of fruit, toast, a glass of milk and a shot of Old Grand Dad (a bourbon I would recommend for the bar).
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby gman58 » Tue May 15, 2012 11:37 pm

Thanks for the replies. With respect to the Jack Daniels, yes it's already there. We sell a few Jack and Cokes.

With respect to the Bourbon Theme idea, I'd like to work up to that. There is a place in town where they serve about 40 whiskies and you can order Bourbon flights. That's something to aspire to but like I said it will take awhile to afford to get in so many bottles. We'll keep working at it though.
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed May 16, 2012 10:28 am

When I walk into a bar I look for the bourbons on the back bar. I consider a ho-hum average bar to have Jim Beam White, Evan Williams, Woodford, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey 101, Blanton's, or some combination of 4 of these. I consider it a good bourbon bar if they dig a little deeper and selections such as Old Grand Dad, Old Forester, Elmer T. Lee, Russell's Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam black, Bonded Heaven Hill, Four Roses Single Barrel, Old Bardstown (90 proof is my favorite in this expression) or some combination of these products as well as the above products. A great bourbon bar with over 20 different brands with multiple expressions of those brands is hard to find outside of Kentucky. That is what i think you should do in Columbus.
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby gman58 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:55 pm

So last night my wife and I had a new experience. As new bar owners we were invited by our wine supplier to attend a trade show. It was held in a large hall and there were 80 to 90 booths set up for vendors who were giving out tastes of their products to all in attendance. Most of the vendors were wine suppliers but there were several spirits vendors there also.

We ignored all the flavored vodkas and looked for whiskies. What we noticed were that un-aged whiskies seemed popular. There were several 'moonshines' to be sampled. Many of which were flavored. There was blueberry flavored moonshine, peach, cinnamon and I don't remember what else. I understand that start-up distilleries need to get product to market to generate sales and un-aged spirits are a way to do that. I hope moonshine doesn't become the next vodka, with all the different flavors.

There was a new bourbon maker there. It was W.H. Harrison from Indiana. They are promoting their bourbons as not made in Kentucky. I spoke a little to the rep that was there and learned that they have a 'standard' bottling @80 proof and a 'reserve' that is bottled at barrel proof and has a high rye mashbill. He told us to think of the standard as Maker's and the reserve as Bookers. So, I asked if that meant the standard was a wheater and he said no, but it's lower rye than their reserve. We tasted both and the standard was pleasant and as smooth as the rep said it would be. It didn't taste like Maker's but was very drinkable. The reserve was not as enjoyable and I usually like trying barrel-strength whiskies. I didn't find it to be very flavorful and even when I cut it with water I didn't find any flavors coming out.

After that we found a booth by Four Roses and tried some of their great products we were already familiar with.

So, it was a unique experience and I hope to get invited back next year.
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby EllenJ » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:32 pm

Actually, a whole lot more bourbon and rye whiskey comes out of Indiana than many folks like to admit. Good for the Harrison guys, unless they're trying to imply that they're the distillers if they're not. Did you ask them?

LDI, which is Lawerencburg Distillers, Indiana, is the home of many, many "sourced" brands, and a pretty da#n good source it is, at that. I've seen W.H. (William Henry?) Harrison bourbon on the shelves, but haven't bought any... yet. If they're honest about the source of their product I'd give 'em a try. Some of my favorite whiskey comes from there. Bulleit Rye, Templeton Rye, Redemption Rye (and bourbon), Jefferson, Riverboat, all are good whiskies and all come from Lawrenceburg (Indiana, not Kentucky). The distillery SEEMS new, but really it's one of the "Old Boys". It was once operated by Seagrams and was where the flavoring whiskies were made that gave character and power to Seagrams blends such as Seven Crown and Crown Royal. Now the same distillery is selling those barrels of wonderfully tasty bourbon and rye to independents, and the whiskey world is richer for that.

Some bottlers admit it. Some even brag about it, as they should. I would be wary of the motives of bottlers who source from LDI and pretend they don't. You might be surprised to learn just who some of those might be.
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby gman58 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:12 am

Good question; I didn't ask if they made the bourbon. A visit to their website tells the reader they are a brand of Tipton Spirits.

With a little digging I was able to learn Tipton Spirits was founded in 2010 and is based out of Brazil, IN. They have 2 products, the Harrison Bourbon and Desiree Vodka. The rep I spoke to told me the bourbon was 4 years old... since the company has only been around for 2 years, I'd assume the product was sourced. Again, nothing necessarily wrong with that. It's probably a marketing decision about whether or not to state it.
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby vince » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:51 am

I agree with John about LDI, they make ALOT of bourbon and rye and usually their juice is pretty good, although I find some of it to be too "minty" for me, especially the Bulleit rye. I like the Barrel strength Harrison's better than the 80 proof although I would not buy another bottle of either. One of the "new" bourbons that I tried that comes from LDI is Very Old Scout-Smooth Ambler 14 year old. (They also have an "Old Scout" 5 year old). The 14 year old is absolutely superb in my opinion. If you stumble across a bottle I would pick it up.
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Re: Stocking a bar

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:06 pm

vince wrote: One of the "new" bourbons that I tried that comes from LDI is Very Old Scout-Smooth Ambler 14 year old. (They also have an "Old Scout" 5 year old). The 14 year old is absolutely superb in my opinion. If you stumble across a bottle I would pick it up.


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