Imagine this: you are serving beverages to customers, just like any other day. A younger couple visits your establishment and orders two glasses of chardonnay. You size them up and they seem sober and confident, but they look like they might be a little young. Think fast – what do you do? Ask to see I.D., or make the sale and send them on their way? If you chose option number two, you would have failed the test.
This past Saturday marked Reno’s Wine Walk event, and four businesses were cited for serving minors. The Reno area’s Regional Street Enforcement Team conducts regular alcohol compliance and TAM Card checks. On Saturday, the Team sent four 18-20-year-old volunteers out to attempt alcohol purchases at 19 area businesses. This time around, four of those businesses made sales to the minors. These volunteers were given instructions to show their actual state-issued I.D. if they were asked for it, clearly identifying them as underage, according to authorities.
The penalties can be severe. In Nevada, serving alcohol to a minor and allowing a minor into a bar are misdemeanors, with a pre-designated fine of $500. Now, think about your training. Would you pass an alcohol compliance check? Here are some tips for keeping things safe and legal:
- Get your mandatory TAM® Card and alcohol awareness training. TAM® will train you on how to correctly check identification and how to spot fake, borrowed, or altered ID. Police officers may ask to see your alcohol awareness card during an alcohol compliance check, so it is important to be prepared.
- Check ID very carefully, and look for any inconsistencies. Watch for anyone who seems either nervous, or over confident. When checking the birth date of a customer, don’t rely only on the birth year alone to confirm someone is of legal drinking age. Minors may try to pull a fast one on busy or distracted workers by purchasing alcohol just a few months or weeks shy of their 21st birthdays. As evidenced by this recent operation, doing the math correctly is very important.
Every establishment needs policies to prevent alcohol sales to minors, and to protect themselves from liability, and the public from harm. Tell us in the Comments below – how else do you think service workers can help curb teen drinking?
Late morning on a sunny Sunday, and who doesn’t love the idea of brunch? Offering brunch service is a great opportunity for restaurants to reach their client base and offer a unique selection of menu items and beverages. But remember, just because it’s the daylight hours, that doesn’t mean servers should be any less vigilant about safe beverage service. Bloody Marys and mimosas are standard brunch fare, and day drinking can still lead to over-intoxication. Here are a few tips that servers can keep in mind to help keep things safe, and make sure their customers still have a great experience.
- If customers are drinking, promote low-proof beverages or mocktails to go with their meals. A mimosa with orange or pear juice is a popular choice for brunch service. For recipe ideas for brunch-themed mocktails, head to the Martha Stewart website.
- Customers should eat and stay hydrated if they are consuming alcoholic beverages. If customers want to linger after their meal and continue beverage service, try suggesting a special brunch appetizer or snack to go with their beverages. Food helps keep alcohol in the stomach for a longer period of time which means that it will be absorbed into the bloodstream at a much slower rate. Try offering an appetizer to go with their drinks. A simple, “Would you like to try some of our brunch crostini or chips and salsa to go with your cocktail?” is always a good tactic.
- With each drink order, also offer to bring your guests a glass of ice water. Offering water is one of the easiest ways to help customers stay hydrated. That goes doubly for brunch served poolside or on the patio. The hot Las Vegas sun can speed up dehydration. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage on a hot day can be a refreshing treat, but it can also accelerate dehydration and can lead to heat-related illness.
- Remember, it is a myth that the caffeine in coffee will sober a person up faster. A person cannot consume multiple alcoholic beverages and then polish it off with a cup of coffee to ‘sober up.’ Coffee certainly goes hand in hand with eggs and potatoes, but it isn’t going to lower someone’s BAC. The body needs time to metabolize alcohol and then return to normal. There are no quick cures, only time.
- No matter what time of day, use the Techniques of Alcohol Management® to keep an eye on guests, use good judgement, and serve them safely. You have an obligation to serve responsibly. To and learn more and get your TAM Card®, register on our website.
What other brunch service and day-drinking tips would you share with hospitality workers? Tell us in the Comments below.
Saving lives means getting tough about DUIs. In an effort to improve safety of those on the road, Nevada has joined the more than 30 states which require ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders. In 2017, Senate Bill 259 passed, requiring anyone arrested with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or above to install an ignition interlock device to maintain their driving privileges. These big changes came into effect on October 1, 2018.
Ignition interlock devices, which are attached to a vehicle’s ignition system, are another tool which can be used to keep intoxicated drivers off the road. Before a driver can start their car, they must breathe into a breathalyzer device. If alcohol is detected on their breath, the car will not start. Additionally, ignition interlock devices are equipped with cameras. This is to make sure that the person who provided the breath is the one driving the vehicle.
According to the CDC, ignition interlocks reduce repeat offenses for driving while intoxicated by about 70% while they are installed.
So, what do you think – do you support Nevada’s new rules for mandatory ignition interlocks for DUI offenders? Do you think this will help to decrease the number of alcohol-related fatalities and injuries? Let us know in the Comments below.
If you’ve taken your TAM® training, you know that a standard serving size for alcoholic beverages refers to 12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol, 5 ounces of wine with 12% alcohol and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, which are 40% alcohol by volume. Knowledge of these standard serving sizes is very important, and can be helpful when you are observing patrons for increasing signs of intoxication. You can estimate how much alcohol they have consumed. However, it has become increasingly common for wine and beer to have a higher than standard amount of alcohol by volume.
As reported by Health 24, it’s not uncommon for many wines to now register at 14-15% alcohol which throws off the standard five ounce serving. While a standard beer may register around 4-5% alcohol, the increasing number of microbrews and premium beers with higher alcohol content are also throwing a wrench into standard serving calculations. Finally, consumers can purchase flavored malt beverages which are packaged in bottles and sold at convenience, grocery and liquor stores across the United States. They can range anywhere from 5-12% alcohol depending on the choice. With all of these variations, it’s easy to see how patrons can easily consume more alcohol than intended. And, as a result, quickly become much more intoxicated.
Knowing this, servers, bartenders and anyone else responsible for service and sale of alcoholic beverages has a very important job on their hands… knowing how to spot an intoxicated guest, and knowing when to intervene or cut them off. As a server, it’s important to make sure that your guests are having an good time, are served exactly what they ordered, and remain respectful of the establishment and others without being over-served. What do bartenders and servers need to know, and how can they use this knowledge to provide responsible beverage service? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Read the labels and be knowledgeable about alcohol levels in the products you offer. If you have a bottle of wine or a beer on the menu with high alcohol content, it may be worthwhile to print the alcohol percentage on your menu, or at least be knowledgeable enough to answer guest questions about the alcohol content. A server can also politely mention the higher than average alcohol content to any guests ordering that beverage. A simple, “Here’s your beer. Just so you are aware, this particular bottle has a 10% alcohol level, so this is about double the standard alcohol serving,” would be appropriate.
- When serving and observing guests, don’t just consider a drink’s potency, consider the serving size as well. Even if you are serving a standard 5% alcohol beer to a guest, if they are ordering a 16 ounce pint glass instead of a 12 ounce bottle, then this is still delivering more alcohol than one standard single serving. As always, remain observant.
To learn more about safe beverage service and any warning signs to watch out for in patrons, take our alcohol awareness course and get TAM certified.