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: your guests are going to be drinking. That can be good news for your bar or restaurant if it’s managed well. An increase in alcohol sales 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 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.