Serving Alcohol Responsibly During the Holidays

During the holidays many people want to celebrate with family and friends, and alcohol is often a part of that celebration. However, people can often get caught up in the excitement and consume too much. So it is important to be even more vigilant when serving alcohol during this time of year.

Here are some things you can do to make sure you are serving alcohol responsibly:

Take the time to talk to your guests. This will help you determine the purpose of their visit as well as their levels of intoxication. If guests are determined to become intoxicated, you want to know about it. Continue talking to each guest throughout his or her visit.

Watch for changes. You can learn a lot about your guests’ level of intoxication by watching for physical and behavioral changes. Examples include:

  • Being overly friendly, unfriendly, depressed or quiet.
  • Using foul language or becoming loud.
  • Drinking faster or switching to larger or stronger drinks.
  • Talking or moving slowly.
  • Staggering, stumbling or bumping into objects.

Watch the count. Some guests may not show physical or behavioral signs of intoxication. That’s because they may have become used to the effects of alcohol. Counting drinks is important in these situations. Each of these beverages contains about the same amount of alcohol and should be counted as one drink:

1 drink = 5 ounces of wine; 12 ounces of beer; 1½ ounces of 80-proof liquor; 1 ounce of 100-proof liquor.

Avoid over-pouring. Over-pouring liquor when making drinks makes it difficult for guests to keep track of and control their drinking. Follow drink recipes closely to ensure that the proper amount of alcohol is put in each drink. You should measure liquor when mixing drinks. If your establishment allows you to free pour, test your accuracy periodically using a pour test.

Offer food. This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent intoxication. Food helps keep alcohol in the stomach. This slows the rate at which it reaches the small intestine—where most of the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. The best food items are those high in fat and/or protein. These items are not easily digested, which slows the absorption of alcohol.

Offer water. Drinking alcohol causes dehydration, making guests thirsty. This can cause them to drink more than they normally would. You can help by offering water with drinks and refilling water glasses often. This will help keep the guest hydrated and can reduce alcohol consumption.

Encourage your employees to check out a new game series based on the ServSafe Alcohol training product. The National Restaurant Association has also partnered with Anheuser-Busch on a short “Responsible Serving Tips” video. Play the game, view the video and learn more about ServSafe Alcohol at ServSafe.com/HOLIDAY!

This information was provided by the National Restaurant Association and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.

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