"The best bartenders get a kick out of knowing they’re helping people have a good time – but what if it goes too far? Should bartenders be to blame if someone drinks themselves into injury or illness?"
This is a troublesome issue for all of the bartenders. There is a fine line between "buzzed and Blotto", sometimes it is a mater of one drink. I feel that as a responsible bartender it is part of my job to keep an eye on the customers, but the final responsibility is in the hands of the patron to "Know when to say when". I don't believe in shoving drinks in front of patrons one right after the other without being aware of their condition. I also believe that as a bartender, I should make an effort to see that they get safely out of the bar and not behind the wheel of a car.
In this article there is a good debate among barmen on the subject.
Know your limits
“It’s everyone’s job to make sure the guests are happy and safe at the same time,” comments Kate Gerwin, general manager of HSL Hospitality and winner of the Bols Around the World Bartending Championships 2014. “First and foremost obviously the customer should know their own limits, however we all know that is not always the case. Bartenders should make safe service of alcohol a huge priority in day-to-day business and the owner of the bar should take a vested interest in the education of the staff about over-serving and the dangers and consequences.”
But for others, the responsibility rests with those in a managerial position who need to step up to their line of duties. “Inevitably, the responsibility lies with the management chain – they are the licensees,” says British bartender and entrepreneur JJ Goodman, co-founder of the London Cocktail Club. “In the UK we have an inherent history of binge drinking, so customers aren’t very perceptive to being told they’re not allowed another drink. When that sort of situation occurs, someone more senior and experienced needs to come in to handle it and command control as quickly as possible.”
Diffusing the situation
Similar snippets of advice surrounding this irrefutably sensitive subject are echoed throughout the industry. Accusing guests of being drunk is deemed as the biggest faux pas, and a sure fire way to escalate an already testing episode. Avoiding embarrassment, ascertaining a first name basis and gaining the aid and trust of any peers who may be present are all recommended methods when it comes to diffusing any drama involved with this task.
It’s a statement that is evidently being taken seriously all around the world, as formal alcohol service training is becoming ever more paramount. Australia now requires staff at most venues to complete a Responsible Service of Alcohol training course before employment begins, while the National Restaurant Association in the US offers educational resources, materials and programs such as ServSafe Alcohol. With a holistic approach, the course offers risk management training on responsible alcohol service practices for all front of house staff – bartenders, waiters, hosts and even security and valets – all curated to “set them up for success”.
“Bartenders and servers of alcohol can face both criminal and civil charges related to serving alcohol,” reiterates Jay Lerdal, product manager, ServSafe. “Studying a responsible alcohol service program helps employees to train in areas that may be encountered when serving alcohol. This includes understanding alcohol law and responsibility, recognizing and preventing intoxication, checking identification and handling difficult situations.”
There is a lot more to read on this subject at http://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2016/02/bartenders-debate-level-of-responsible-service/