How to Serve Alcohol Responsibly


mixing a cocktail in a pint glass Restaurants sell alcohol for a variety of reasons. For one, it may be integral to your concept. Some meals just feel incomplete without the right beverage. This is especially true if you run a brew pub, a Mexican cantina, a French bistro or a tapas bar. Additionally, alcoholic beverages typically have high profit margins and can be a great way to make extra profits. Some drinks provide profit margins of over 70%. It has become more common for fast-casual establishments to obtain liquor licenses in order to take advantage of the income potential that comes with selling alcohol.

That being said, serving alcohol involves tremendous responsibility. Without proper management in place, your restaurant could risk facing a lawsuit or even lose its liquor license. Abide by state laws and be sure to train your staff in the proper methods of serving alcohol. This will help you stay responsible, keeping your alcohol sales profitable rather than problematic.

How to Check IDs

Checking IDs is imperative for bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Always check IDs on anyone who looks like they are under 30 years of age, unless you are certain they are 21 years of age or older. The restaurant is held accountable for anyone purchasing alcohol, and there could be repercussions for serving an underage patron, or anyone holding a fake ID. Check IDs by using the following guidelines:

  • Check for state seals and holograms.
  • Check for any modifications or alterations.
  • Be aware of any type fonts that do not match.
  • Watch for anything that looks as though it were transferred onto the card.
  • Check the picture and the feature descriptions to make sure they correspond with the person using it.
  • Make sure that there is a valid picture, signature and birth-date.
  • Use an electronic scanner to check the ID.

Alcohol Service Guidelines

Managers should train their staff to be sure that all bartenders and servers are responsible and aware whenever serving alcoholic beverages to guests. Teach the following guidelines to your bar and restaurant staff:

  • Before serving a guest alcohol, check his or her condition. Do not serve the guest if you believe he or she is already intoxicated.
  • If you believe the guest is intoxicated, you have the right to decline service.
  • Offer a food menu and bring glasses of water to guests you believe are drunk.
  • Record all occurrences of refusal to serve in a manager’s log.

The Risks of Serving Alcohol

The major downside of serving liquor is that your restaurant is at much greater risk for accidents resulting from intoxicated patrons. These kinds of mishaps can cause legal issues or liquor license retraction. Your restaurant may also be at more risk for inside theft. Bar sales are often plagued with theft, such as when bartenders over-pour liquor to get better tips, give away free drinks or even steal the liquor themselves. Be sure to properly train your servers and bartenders in proper alcohol service. Training programs like ServSafe Alcohol™ can help prepare your workers for realistic situations.

Set yourself up for success by training your staff in awareness and responsible serving. Also, by maintaining insurance in case the worst does happen. Make sure that you are taking care to follow the law by checking IDs, serving responsibly, and staying aware of potential problems at all times. The suggestions above will help keep your restaurant problem-free.


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