Pour spouts are the small yet sturdy backbone of the bar industry. And while they’re often overlooked, they’re crucial to any bartender’s success. Sometimes called liquor pourers, speed pourers or bottle pourers, pour spouts are the unsung heroes behind every cocktail.
Here at Crew Supply Co., we take pour spouts very seriously. In fact, we’re proud to consider ourselves the nerds of the industry. Why? We have over a decade of experience behind the bar in all kinds of settings. We’ve experienced the pain of tearing a pour spout during a packed happy hour, with customers continuing to line up waiting for their drinks as we fight to find and put on a new pour spout. Trust us, we don’t like this scenario any more than you do.
That’s why we brainstormed a different approach to this pain point and others in the bar/restaurant industry. And by this, we also mean coffee shops and food uses such as pouring syrups and juices. We knew there had to be a better solution.
That being said, are you ready to learn everything you never knew you needed to know about pour spouts? We’re about to get knee-deep into the ins and outs of pour spouts. Enjoy!
What’s a Pour Spout?
Walk behind a bar and take a good look at the liquor bottles. They probably all have pour spouts on them. That’s because any bar owner or bartender worth their salt (rim) knows that pour spouts help you pour precisely, quickly and without any mess.
How exactly do these little wonders work? The spout streamlines and directs the liquid leaving the bottle. That means faster pours, more control over where the liquid goes and fewer spills. When you’re trying to pour liquor into a jigger or shot glass, you want to fill it without wasting anything. The right pour spout can actually get you more cocktails per liquor bottle. Plus, quicker pours and less waste mean more profit!
Please note that although we focus on bartending uses in this blog post, pour spouts are also used in restaurants to serve beautifully garnished dishes. They’re also used in coffee shops to make common and custom drinks.
Common Components of Pour Spouts
Though each style of pour spouts is unique, there are commonalities. Each design takes these different components into consideration in a unique way. Let’s look at the three common components.
#1 A Fin System to Fit a Variety of Bottle Neck Diameters
Nearly all pour spouts have some type of flexible fin system that adapts to fit different bottle neck diameters. Pour spout designs need to accommodate a wide variety of bottle neck sizes on the market.
#2 An Air Tube System to Exchange Liquid for Air
By nature, pour spouts must have some type of air tube system that exchanges liquid for air when a liquid is being poured. An air hole sits on the outside of the spout to take in the air. When you pour a liquid, the gurgling sound that you hear is this exchange of liquid for air. This system plays a huge part in preventing leakage and maintaining air circulation inside and outside the bottle. If this hole is blocked, the flow of the liquor becomes slower.
#3 A Tapered Spout to Channel the Flow
And, of course, they all have some type of tapered spout to channel the flow. A pour spout has a small tube that runs inside of the pour spout to release the liquid.
The 5 Most Common Types of Pour Spouts
You might be wondering, what’s the best type of pour spout? Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, as it really depends on the type of setting and the goals of the business. For example, an intimate cocktail bar and a nightclub will have different operational needs and preferences when it comes to pour spouts.
Generally speaking, here are the five most common types of pour spouts, each with different pour speeds, precision and durability. They all have advantages and disadvantages.
#1 Free Flow/Standard Pourers
Free flow pourers are a busy bartender’s best friend. While other spouts have ball bearings or systems to control the flow of liquid, a free flow pourer lets the liquid flow smoothly and quickly, so you can get those cocktails to your thirsty patrons as fast as possible! However, with this type of pour spout, bartenders don’t have a precise way to measure the liquid that goes into a drink, so they have to eyeball it. And if they continue to overpour, it can lead to a financial loss as well as a potential liability concern about intoxicated patrons.
#2 Angled Pourer
The angled pourer is also known as a tapered spout. It has a long, slim spout that helps bartenders pour liquor precisely and quickly. The tapered pour spout is accurate and allows consistent, high-flow rate pours. It’s easy to clean, but the open spout means this style is susceptible to fruit flies and other such nuisances. To make a drink, you have to have your bottle pointed in one direction and angle. You can also invert bottles completely. It’s an ergonomically limited pourer.
#3 Screened Pourers
Are you worried about fruit flies and no-see-ums getting drunk on your dime? A screened pourer can help with these pesky critters, so it’s a must-have for outdoor bars. However, they’re not good for creamy, high-viscosity liquids. The screen slows the flow rate, which makes it take longer to pour a drink. And imagine pouring a creamy liquid like Bailey’s or syrup through this type of pourer—it’s even slower than other less viscous fluids. They’re not a good option for fast-paced environments. Plus, they’re quite difficult to clean due to the tiny holes.
#4 Measured Pourers
Measured pourers are engineered with a mechanical ball-bearing system to control consistency, prevent over-pouring and keep bartenders honest. These pourers work like a valve: they open to allow a certain amount of alcohol to pass through based on their set capacity and then they shut off to prevent over-pouring. Measured pourers are popular in ultra-high-volume venues (think nightclubs and sports stadiums) where consistent pouring and profit margins are vital.
The downside to these "smart pourers" is that they limit the creative control of the bar staff. Craft cocktails call for specific measurements—a quarter ounce here, a half an ounce there—making the measured pourer a hindrance in a cocktail environment. Not to mention the acclaimed "dealer's choice" in which a guest gives their bartender carte blanche to create a custom drink of their choosing.
Another downside is that since these measured pourers come in set sizes, it’s up to the bartender to know which one to grab, which can be a challenge on a busy night.
#5 Plastic, One-Piece Pourer
The plastic, one-piece pourer is just that. It’s a common pour spout for bars, as it’s a durable piece with just one part. Bartenders can freely pour alcohol, which is good for fast-paced environments. On the other hand, free-flowing pour spouts can lead to over-pouring, resulting in a financial loss and potential liability. These pour spouts don’t have any protection, so they’re susceptible to bugs.
The Evolution of Pour Spouts
Bars have been around in America for a long time—since 1634, to be exact. Obviously, bars have changed quite a bit since then. Fast forward to the 20th century. Bars in the 1950s and early 1960s weren’t crowded or busy since only half of the population could frequent them. While men and women drank together in secret during the Prohibition era, after alcohol was legalized once again, laws were passed to “protect” women from the dangers of alcohol. It took until 1973 for most drinking establishments to be co-ed.
Until inventor John J. Daly applied for the first pour spout patent in 1963, bartenders simply kept the lids on bottles. John’s pour spout was a plastic, free-flow prototype.
After this invention, pour spouts began to find their way into nearly every bar in America in the 1970s, and they continue to be used across all different types of hospitality establishments.
Since the original use of pour spouts in bars, many other types have come on the market. You can opt for plastic or metal, and many spouts have two or three ball bearings inside the pourer to regulate liquid flow. In addition, they’re frequently used for liquids that are non-alcoholic, such as for syrups and juices in coffee shops and for liquids like salad dressings in restaurants.
The Last Major Innovation: the Ball-Bearing Mechanism
The last major innovation in pour spouts was when the ball-bearing mechanism came along. As we described previously, this mechanism functions as a valve, which causes the flow to stop after a certain amount of alcohol passes through. The goal was to prevent over-pouring, resulting in a profit loss. It also was trying to limit potential liability, as heavy pours can lead to intoxication.
The design had good intentions; it has its limitations though. Bartenders can overcome the limit by simply turning over the bottle again to make a stronger drink, leading to both things that the design was trying to achieve. One of the current trends in bartending is craft cocktails, in which bartenders need more flexibility with each pour due to recipes calling for as little as ¼ oz of a liquor. So a measured pourer is basically useless in a craft bar environment, which is in virtually all bars now.
Why the Lack of Innovation?
We think there’s been a lack of innovation for a few reasons. The pour spouts on the market today are inexpensive, so many bar owners/operators continue to just buy more and don’t think about the longer-term impacts of these purchasing decisions.
Also, as in many jobs, bartenders tend to have to make do with the tools that they have, and they aren’t asked to seek out ways to improve workflow and efficiency.
Here at Crew, we view things differently. We look at bar tools through the eyes of the industry professional. We’ve been there. We know what kind of tools we wished that we’d had. So we decided to do something about it. Read on to learn more.
The Next Generation of Pour Spouts
There really hasn’t been any innovation in pour spouts since the measured pourer. Until now. Here at Crew Supply Co., we have first-hand experience with the challenges that bartenders face. With over a decade of craft bartending experience under our belts, we understand customer pain-points, and we can relate deeply to the problems that cause headaches for busy bartenders. We’ve dealt with cheap, disposable bar supplies that fell apart. We’ve felt the pressure as the bar starts to fill up, and we can’t find the right liquor bottle. And we’ve felt the lack of innovation and drive to help us create a better solution.
So, we set out to build a better pour spout ourselves. At Crew Supply Co., we worked with hundreds of bartenders to create, develop and test pour spouts. And input from our customers says we’ve nailed it.
Our Pour Boy® Pour Spout was developed by industry-leading bartenders to strike the perfect balance between form and function. It’s the most modern and innovative pour spout on the market, and it takes John Daly’s design to the ultimate level.
So what sets our Pour Boy® Pour Spout apart from the rest?
#1 Durable and Safe Design for Longevity
Taking a pour spout out of a snug or sticky bottleneck can be a pain. Literally. And the last thing you want to do is fight with a pour spout and take care of a wound when you have customers waiting. Our competitors have a 2-component design consisting of polymer and steel elements, which aren’t securely attached to each other. When a bartender goes to remove this type of design, the steel element can separate from the polymer element, rendering the product virtually useless. This is a huge pain point for bartenders.
Our pour spout has an over-molded design, which is one unit, so the pour spout won’t come apart when you remove it from a bottleneck. This design is more comfortable for bartenders’ grips, as their fingers/thumbs aren’t exposed to sharp steel. So they’re safer and more hearty, resulting in fewer injuries and replacements. And, you’ll see long-term savings since you don’t have to replace them as often.
Don’t worry about your Pour Boy falling apart when you remove it from the bottle. The Pour Boy spout is ultra-durable and can handle even the toughest wear and tear.
#2 Available in Multiple Colors for Better Organization and Identification
If you've ever worked as a bartender on a busy shift, you know that the environment can be chaotic.
Picture this all-too-common situation. It's 9:30 pm on a Friday night, and the bar is in full swing. Drink orders are flying in faster than you can field them. The music is loud, servers are waiting for drinks and guests are growing increasingly impatient. You are—as we say in the industry—in the weeds.
Now, if you were pouring shots and beers, this wouldn't be too much of a challenge. But these guests want craft cocktails—Gimlets, Sidecars, Juleps and house cocktails (remember the one YOU created with egg whites?). Not only do you need to craft these cocktails with speed and precision, but you must also do it with a smile on your face all while maintaining eye contact with your customers and fielding additional orders. At this point, if you're not organized, things can go from bad to worse in a hurry.
Crew's color-coded organization/pour spout system allows bartenders to instantly identify ingredients from a birds' eye view. Craft bar programs use Pour Boys® to create a "cockpit" feel in their prep stations so that bartenders always feel organized and efficient. To make your organization complete, we also have Crew Bottles that match our colorful collection of pour spouts. Think an orange Pour Boy and Crew Bottle for your OJ, a red Pour Boy and Crew Bottle for tomato juice, and so on. You can create an organization that fits best for the way your business works.
Let's face it, there will always be chaotic moments in bartending. But by creating an organized, color-coded labeling system, bartenders can increase efficiency and feel more confident behind the stick. As a result, you’ll have happy customers, resulting in more sales and repeat customers.
The greatest pour spout in the world won’t help you if it doesn’t fit your bottles. And given the array of bottles on the market, there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution.
That being said, our adaptable fin system was developed by seasoned bartenders to create the most ubiquitous design on the market. We worked with hundreds of different bottleneck sizes to determine the most universal dimensions for the Pour Boy® Pour Spout. The Pour Boy® Pour Spout works in most standard liquor bottles and fits more bottle sizes than any of our competitors.
#4 Easy to Clean
When you’re working behind a bar, nothing is more important than maintaining a squeaky clean environment. Bar tools should always be well-groomed, especially those that come in direct contact with drink ingredients. That’s why we incorporated an innovative over-molded design, which prevents bacteria from building up in small cracks and crevices.
And when it comes time to clean our pour spouts, simply toss them in the dishwasher or a sanitizing solution overnight, and then reapply them the next day. Good as new.
#5 Perfect Flow Rate
Not to brag, but we really nailed this one. To arrive at our design, we spent years comparing and contrasting the flow rate of existing pourers to determine the ideal speed for precision pouring in a high-volume environment. And “we” means seasoned bartenders who tested and tweaked it until we got the perfect flow rate for high-volume craft cocktail bartending. The result is a high-quality speed pourer that industry professionals love.
Shop Our Pour Boy Pour Spouts
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our pour spouts as much as we enjoyed writing about them! And yes, we’re proud to be the geeks of pour spouts! Check out our entire Pour Boy Pour Spout collection as well as our Crew Bottles and other bartending tools. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at email@example.com.