How to Serve Alcohol Responsibly

Being a bartender can be a fun job at times. You get to work in an environment where on a good night, everyone is having a good time and enjoying themselves. However, bartending also comes with a certain level of responsibility. Bartenders must follow certain rules, like not over serving, in order to help ensure the safety of all patrons of the establishment as well as anyone else they may cross paths with upon leaving.

Bartending License

There is no actual bartending license, but there is an Alcohol Server Certification that is required in many states in order for an individual to sell or serve alcohol. To get the certification, you must complete a course, most of which are now offered online. The course is similar to that required to get a Food Handler’s Permit. It takes a couple of hours to complete, and there is a short test at the end.

An Alcohol Server Certification is not to be confused with a Bartender Certification. A Bartender Certification has to do with how to make drinks and is a training course in the practice of bartending, rather than a course on the regulations.

An Alcohol Server Certification course will take you through all of the state laws regarding serving alcohol and how to do it safely and responsibly.

Check IDs

One of the first steps in responsible serving is to make sure not to serve underage patrons. Serving alcohol to minors is illegal. It not only endangers the underage drinker, but it also puts your establishment in a very precarious position. The business could be facing major fines, potentially resulting in the closure of the business in cases where it is not an establishment’s first offense.

Measure How Much Alcohol You Use

Even experienced bartenders should always measure how much alcohol they are putting in a drink and be consistent. When a customer orders a second drink that ends up being far stronger than the first, it can leave them feeling far more intoxicated than expected.

Don’t Over Serve

It is important to be on the lookout for people who have had too much to drink and cut them off if they get to a certain point. You may need to be careful about the manner with which you go about cutting someone off because the behavior of an intoxicated person can be quite erratic. You can be diplomatic about it and ask them if they would like a water, soft drink, or something to eat. You can also go ahead and ask them if they would like the check.

If they still insist, then you will have to politely tell them that you don’t feel comfortable serving them any more alcohol.

Common signs that a person has had too much to drink include:

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased motor control
  • Aggressive behavior

Offer to Call a Cab

When worried that a customer has had too much to drink, offer to call them a cab. A drunk driver getting behind the wheel is one of the most dangerous consequences of a night out drinking. Always remind patrons that there are other alternatives available to them for getting home.

Create Policies

If you are the owner or manager of the bar, then you can implement a set of guidelines for all staff to follow to ensure safe serving. Some policies that can help your establishment not to over serve and to follow all laws include:

  • Checking the IDs of all guests upon arrival rather than when they order: Doing so will ensure that no underage guests are getting alcohol from other guests who order with proper identification.
  • Only serve guests one drink at a time: Only serving a guest one drink at a time, helps to moderate their rate of consumption. Drinking too fast is a sure-fire way to lead to over intoxication.
  • Having a drink limit: Establishing a limit on the number of drinks that your establishment serves can help ensure that guests don’t overindulge.

Safety Comes First

It’s important to remember that as much as a bar is about having adult-themed fun, safety comes first. You also need to keep in mind that following safe procedures will help protect your business from a legal perspective. Alcohol-related injuries can lead to patrons holding property owners responsible for accidents taking place on their grounds. When serving is done in a responsible manner, patrons are unlikely to win these cases.

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