Understanding & Calculating Beverage Cost

#Beverage, #BeverageCost, #BeverageCOS, #COS, #FoodandBeverage, #FB, #Profitability, #HospitalityCode

While reviewing P&L accounts, we often use the term F&B COS (Food and Beverage Cost of Sales) as it represents the total running cost of a whole department, venue or section. To be able to understand and effectively manage the cost, we need to separate Food and Beverage and treated individually.

I have reviewed Food Cost and 10 principles of Food Cost in my last article. We will look into Beverage cost in this article.

Alcohol sales (beverage sales) are an easy way to increase profitability because the costs are lower and the gross margin is far greater for beverage than for food.


In Food and Beverage industry, operators typically evaluate their success based on their "cost of goods" percentage which commonly referred to as either “Beverage COS” or “pour cost.” This basically calculated by simply adding up the cost of the product used and dividing it by the cost of the product sold.

The main problem with pour cost is deciding what to compare it against. How do you know if your percentages are in line? Most operators simply look at the average pour costs in the industry or at their previous annual cost percentages.

On that basis, most operators use following guidelines as combined costs of below items create Beverage Cost;

Liquor : 15% – 17%

Bottled Beer : 23% – 25%

Draft Beer : 21% – 22%

Wine : 30% - 40%

Soft Drinks : 6% – 8%

Please note that alcoholic beverages are included in beverage cost calculations. Soft drinks, juices, coffees, and other non-alcoholic beverage sales are included in food cost calculations.

When all combined, based upon different sales mixes, prices and costs, a typical (combined) beverage cost is 21 percent. Ideally, when your beverage cost goes above 21 percent of your beverage sales, indicates that something is wrong.

So, what should your beverage cost percentage be? Successful restaurants generate beverage costs in the mid 20% range. However, different types of operations typically run higher or lower percentages - fine dining may run up to 35% (sales of bottles of wine are usually less profitable other alcoholic beverages) whereas brewpub restaurants may run about 15%. Comparing your cost percentage to restaurants with similar menus and service levels provides a more accurate perspective.

Still, if you want to improve further and use the full potential of your venue then you should compare your “Actual” cost percentages to your “Potential or Optimal” cost percentages. Optimal cost percentages are determined by taking into account an operation's selling prices, purchasing costs, and sales mix.

  • When calculating a potential liquor cost percentage, the desired liquor shot size needs to be considered.

  • When determining potential draft beer cost percentages, the sales mix of each draft beer container used (mugs, glasses, pitchers) has to be figured into the calculation.

  • Determining an operation's potential bottled beer cost percentage is just a matter of dividing a bottle's cost by its selling price.

  • Actual cost percentages are the actual costs incurred (taken from distributor’s invoices) divided by the actual sales generated (taken from the Point-of-Sale registers.)

I have attached Excel spreadsheet which could help you to calculate your optimal beverage cost percentages by different categories as well as identifying potential COS. Please visit https://hospitalitycode.com/resource-hub check and compare your potential cost percentages to your actual cost percentages to help evaluate your establishment’s lost profits by revenue category.


Please remember that soft drinks, juices, coffee, and other non-alcoholic beverage sales are included in food cost calculations, not beverage cost calculations.

Beverage Cost = Cost of Beverage Sales / Total Beverage Revenues

Key factors to consider when calculating Beverage Cost;

Time Frame:

Establish a specific time period for analysis. The beverage sales and costs should be generated during a set accounting time period of at least two weeks or more typically, every 28 days, or monthly. It is critical that the elements of the beverage cost calculation (sales, inventories and purchases) are representative of this time period.

Accurate Recording of Beverage Sales: