What You Need to Know About Serving Alcohol Responsibly


There are a lot of reasons restaurants and other businesses like to sell alcohol. There is a lot of money to be made by doing this. The problem is, as Uncle Ben told his nephew, Peter Parker, AKA Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” If you are going to sell alcohol, in addition to needing a permit, you need to make sure your workers know how to do this responsibly. Here are some ways to make sure they do:

  • Make sure all of your staff is trained. You can make any alcohol servers, from bartenders to waitstaff, take ABC classes and obtain an ABC license if they are going to serve your patrons alcohol. At the end of the day, you should just make sure they have the training they need to be professional when it comes to passing out booze.
  • Put in place drink policies. Some bars will not serve a customer a drink until they have finished the first one they ordered. Some limit the number of drinks they can have during a single visit to their establishment. It is easy to put in place policies that prevent customers from drinking too much. When you have workers who have the right training, this is even easier.
  • Be religious about checking IDs. This is one of the most important things you can do if you own or manage an establishment that sells alcohol. There are people who are above the legal age to drink but look younger. There are also young people who can pass for being over 21. If you have even the slightest idea that the person is under the age of 21, you should check their ID. On the plus side, you will make people who are older than 21 (especially when they are way over 21) feel flattered. Seriously, you may just want to check every woman’s ID who walks through the door. Happy women tip more.
  • Make sure your workers are careful with how much booze they pour into each drink. While your permit to serve may not say how much each drink should have, there are several good reasons to be careful with this. In the first place, you will save money. Even if you do not care as much as that, if your bartenders are not careful, they can make one cocktail with a little less alcohol in it, then if the next one is really strong, the customer may have a harder time handling it. Many drinkers have a hard time telling how drunk they are so it makes a difference to take care when you are serving alcohol.
  • Train your workers to see when they need to cut someone off. It takes some training and experience to be able to tell when someone has had enough alcohol but it is a good skill to have. Encourage the people who serve alcohol in your establishment to watch the people carefully. You can be held responsible if a patron leaves your establishment and gets into a car accident as a result of the drinking they did there.
  • If someone is clearly drunk, do not serve them at all. This will happen to you. A person will walk in, approach the bar and it will be very clear that they have already had too much to drink. This is where that training to get the ABC permit will come in handy as it can be hard to tell a belligerent person “no.” It is, however, easier to deal with that than all of the problems that can come up if you allow them to continue to drink.
  • Make sure you have the number of a local cab company. Even when you have the best-trained people and the best policies on alcohol service in town, people can and will overindulge. That is normal and while certain celebrations can go on longer than they should, having the number for a local taxi company can help a lot. You keep the public safe and your patron out of jail. They may not appreciate it at the time but they will later.

At the end of the day, your alcohol permit can bring in profits but you need to be careful serving it.

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