Understanding the Backbar

Michael Tipps at the 2017 NCB Show
​​Michael Tipps consulting live at a Nightclub & Bar Show session. Image: Getty

Editor's Note: The following is one in a series of blogs provided by the experts who have worked incredibly hard to make Spike TV's "Bar Rescue" reality program, starring Nightclub & Bar Media Group President Jon Taffer, such a success. The Bar Rescue Insider blog series will deliver tried-and-true tips and tricks to help bar owners, operators and managers solve common problems and increase their bottom line. Tune in to Nightclub.com every Wednesday for the next edition of Bar Rescue Insider!


I believe the backbar — including an owner’s taste in well brands — is one of a bar’s most underutilized revenue sources. Owners should treat these bar elements as valuable real estate. The backbar is just like a billboard for a store or movie; if it gets saturated with too many advertisements it loses value and credibility.

Vendor/product owners want their products to be distinguished and stand apart from others. Many bar owners fall into the common trap of feeling like they have to carry every single name because sales reports show people order a certain brand. The key is how much patrons are ordering and why.

Owners and bar managers should really learn about the products they carry and consciously choose brands that best represent what they believe in and want to support. Similarly, department stores don't carry every brand of clothing because not all labels speak clearly about the type of store they are trying to be.

If bar managers and owners carefully choose liquor brands rather than trying to showcase every bottle, the standouts will be encouraged to support our bars because by building the bar through promotions and support, they are building their own brand as well. We really are all in it together.

Imagine your city “supports” you by allowing later hours so you can increase profits, but you find out 10 new bars are building around you. Couldn’t that take away from your business?

The same mentality goes for cocktail programs. Essentially you’re creating a living, breathing interaction for guests to come into contact with not only your employees but your product. It’s the same message: When a beverage features 25 cocktails, placement value decreases.

The bottom line is if we can start to see every brand we carry in our bars and restaurants as potential partners, we will begin to expand our relationships and business.


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