Keep Your Guests Safe This Holiday Season


People drink during the holiday season. They drink because they’re happy, they drink because they’re sad — with emotions on overdrive during the holidays, one thing’s for sure: many of your guests will be ordering drinks. With profit margins general higher for alcohol than most food items, an increase in alcohol sales is good news for your bar or restaurant. However, selling alcohol comes with a great deal of responsibility — and liability. Keep your guests, your employees, and your business safe with effective alcohol sales training.

Do servers check ID? Conduct intensive and ongoing bartender and server training to avoid unhappy, unruly and underage drinkers. Since undercover police look for guests drinking without ID, bartenders and servers should card everyone — no exceptions. Keep a book of valid state licenses behind the bar as a reference. If the ID is slightly suspect, a second form of ID should be requested. If a guest orders more than one drink at the same time, bartenders should keep an eye out for minors waiting in the wings.

Are drinks consistent? Drink consistency is as important as food consistency. Regardless of how crazy things may get behind the bar, drinks should be mixed according to easily accessible printed recipes. Avoid costly free-pouring by standardizing the use of jiggers.

Can servers cut-off guests who’ve had too much? Cutting off intoxicated guests is extremely awkward and should be handled delicately. Bartenders should keep tabs on how many drinks indulgent guests have consumed. Here are some real-world tips for cutting customers off:

  • Serve them water, even if they have a half full drink. If you get lucky, they’ll be grateful for the non-alcohol beverage and sip on it the rest of the night.
  • If your subtle water suggestion doesn’t work and the guest orders another drink, be careful not to embarrass your guest. When guests over-indulge, things can get ugly fast. Tell them they need a break for now and offer them a soda or water. Be polite, but firm.
  • Depending on the situation, you may be able to get their friends to help you reason with them. Focus on the guest’s safety.
  • While your job is usually to be friendly and accommodating, your attitude needs to change when you find yourself dealing with an out-of-control drunk. Firmly take control of the situation, and get your manager involved as soon as possible.
  • Don’t back down. Once you recognize a guest has had too much, it’s your responsibility to stop serving them. This is for your guest’s safety, as well as your own.

Restaurant Service and Sales Training

The Service & Sales Excellence Waitstaff Training Series is based on Service That Sells!, a restaurant training philosophy developed by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. Click here to learn more.

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