What’s in a serving size? Servers and sellers should remain vigilant with higher-alcohol beverages on the market

wine bottlesIf 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.


A Reminder about the Dangers of Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol

In recent years energy drinks, or flavored beverages which contain stimulants such as caffeine, have become increasingly popular among consumers. In fact, energy drinks such as Red Bull® and Monster® are very popular among teens and young adults in particular. In moderation such beverages may not be unsafe, but overconsumption or mixing energy drinks with alcohol can be very dangerous.

From 2005 to 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available), there was a sharp increase in the number of emergency departments visits associated with the use of non-alcoholic energy drinks – from 1,128 visits in 2005 to 13,114 visits in 2009. Additionally, about 44% of these ER visits involved energy drink consumption combined with the use of other substances such as alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs (SAMHSA). More recently stories have surfaced regarding 5 deaths, including that of a 14 year-old California teen, which may be tied to consumption of Monster Energy Drinks, and the FDA is investigating (USA Today).

This news should serve as a reminder to service professionals and consumers alike that it can be a risky behavior to mix caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol. In fact, the FDA has raised concerns that caffeine additives may mask some of the effects consumers typically rely on to determine their level of intoxication. Drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Servers and sellers of alcohol beverages are taking note. If your establishment currently serves energy drinks mixed with alcohol, you may want to consider removing these items from your menu. Additionally, as always guests should be monitored closely for responsible consumption. No one should be over served. Complete your alcohol awareness course with TAM® of Nevada in order to learn more about responsible beverage service and the effects of alcohol on the body.


© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Las Vegas Police Issue DUI Citations after Super Bowl Celebrations – A Reminder about Safe Beverage Service

Holidays, special sporting events, and other events which draw crowds looking to gather in a fun and celebratory environment can up the odds that some partiers may choose to drive while intoxicated. Las Vegas Police issued a warning to those planning to celebrate around town on Super Bowl Sunday; if you drink and drive, you will get caught.

After setting up a sobriety checkpoint and reminding people not to drink and drive, there were unfortunately still several incidents around town. On Sunday night there was a six-car crash reported on Rainbow Boulevard which resulted in one fatality, thought to be caused by a drunk driver (8 News Now). In another incident across town, a teenager was hit by a suspected drunk driver while waiting at a bus stop in the early AM hours on Monday (Action News 13). Police took 13 suspected drunken drivers off the road on Sunday evening, but even one drunk driver is too many.

While those consuming alcoholic beverages should be responsible about their alcohol intake, bartenders, and anyone else who serves alcoholic beverages also has a legal and moral responsibility to serve responsibly, and promote an alternative means of getting home if anyone appears intoxicated. For a list of steps service professionals can take to serve responsibly and promote safe beverage service, refer to our blog post, “DUI-Related Traffic Deaths Up This Year in Southern Nevada – Are You Doing All You Can to Help Prevent Drunk Driving?


© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Heineken Promotes Responsible Drinking with New Ad Campaign

In an effort to help promote responsible alcohol consumption among consumers, beer giant Heineken is kicking off a new ad campaign telling their customers that, “Sunrise belongs to moderate drinkers.” (Bar Business Magazine). Liquor and beer brands have long promoted responsible beverage service, sales and consumption, but this new move from Heineken really highlights the idea of enjoying an alcoholic beverage, having a great time, and being responsible about your health and safety. Heineken’s campaign will be based around drinkers responsibly consuming alcoholic beverages and ending the night enjoying a sunrise.

The campaign will appear in both online and offline advertising, and will feature heavily in Heineken’s social media channels. You can check out Heineken’s Facebook page to see sunrise photos shared by other fans, and contribute your own. And remember, TAM® of Nevada is also on Facebook, connect with us socially to join the conversation about TAM training and responsible beverage service and sales, plus stay up-to-date on news, events, TAM® tips and more.

Have you seen Heineken’s newest ad campaign? Do you think it will help to promote responsible drinking?


Heineken Launches “Sunrise” Campaign for Responsible Drinking

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada