9 Tips For Responsibly Serving Alcohol At Your Restaurant

Restaurants selling alcohol shouldn’t underestimate the importance of serving these drinks responsibly. It’s estimated that 60% of Americans consume alcoholic beverages and many restaurants have a license to sell them to eligible customers. However, restaurants are also responsible for serving drinks to people responsibly without encouraging overindulgence. The reason is simple, i.e., your establishment may lose its liquor license by serving alcohol carelessly. In other words, you can’t serve alcohol to minors, which is the most common reason restaurants lose their liquor license. That’s why managers should learn the following methods to serve alcohol responsibly and avoid getting their liquor licenses revoked. 

Serving alcohol responsibly

Besides serving minors, your staff being intoxicated while serving can also make you lose your license. Also, serving visibly intoxicated customers isn’t allowed either; otherwise, your restaurant will get in trouble.

 Establishments are responsible for catering to customers’ well-being, including saying “no” politely to intoxicated consumers when they realize the customers can’t bear another glass. So, how can you serve alcohol at your restaurant responsibly? Here are some tips that can help you in this matter. Follow all these suggestions, and you shall keep your customers safe:

  • Train your employees

Managers can have their employees pursue an alcohol training program and certifications required by their state. So, bartenders in California have been required to undergo responsible beverage service training since July 2022. In some cases, even managers need to pursue this training program. After passing this program, bartenders in California can become more attentive to overindulged customers. That’s how you can become more familiar with responsible wine-serving techniques at your establishment.

  • Establish strict policies

Managers should down strict policies and stringent overindulgence guidelines to prevent mishaps. Instruct bartenders to follow these policies faithfully and tell customers that toxicity will not be tolerated in your establishment. These guidelines will improve your restaurant’s reputation in the eyes of the law. However, some customers may not like these policies. So, it would help if you prepared the staff to face the music. And these guidelines will include everything we’re writing down below.

  • Always check IDs

Remember that It’s Always Sunny episode in which the gang doesn’t realize they are serving drinks to underage customers? In real-life situations, this mistake can go highly wrong sometimes! Know that serving minors can lead to your liquor license getting revoked. So, always check everyone’s IDs.

  • Serve measured alcohol

Educate your staff about serving measured amounts of alcohol. Never go freestyle when mixing your drinks. That’s how bartenders know how much alcohol they have served, and they can judge when a customer has had enough. Moreover, this healthy practice will help customers curb their drinking too.

  • Look for indicators

Watch out for any signs of intoxication in your customers and stop serving them after it’s become clear to you that they’re severely inebriated. At first, your staff may have problems identifying when they can say “go home” to someone. However, with little practice, bartenders can determine if a customer has had too much. It all comes with experience, so you should help bartenders facing an intoxicated customer. Educate your staff about the following signs of intoxication in customers:

  • Slurred sleep
  • Rude behavior
  • A lack of coordination
  • Not making sane decisions
  • Staggering and swaying too much
  • Serve them slowly

Sometimes, bartenders can’t refuse a customer outright. So they can serve overindulged customers as slowly as possible. Show bartenders how they can modify their behavior subtly without causing problems with these customers. In other words, discourage intoxicated customers subtly so they would consider going home. Serve them water instead, put some distance, start to polish glasses, or begin to restock some shelves. That’s how you can indicate that it’s time for that customer to go home.

  • Refuse intoxicated customers

Customers, when drunk, persist in getting some more alcohol. They may beg, bully, and bargain, but bartenders shouldn’t budge. Settle their tab first and calmly inform them you won’t serve them any more alcohol. But don’t embarrass them; you require these customers to come back tomorrow. But don’t let them fool you with “one more drink, and I’m going home.” Ask them to leave politely and ensure nobody gets hurt because of their fury.

When faced with a customer who looks drunk, bartenders can turn down their services. Surely, a customer won’t be pleased when not served in this state. But it’s better to have customers be irritated than do this:

  • Hurling abuses at dutybound bartenders
  • Causing a disturbance due to intoxication
  • Starting with a fight or participating in one

  • Arrange transport facilities

Sometimes, it’s better to arrange a customer transport service so they can go home early. You can only prevent some people from overindulging. Some people always drink more than they can handle and will need transportation to reach home. You can have a taxi service on standby or call them an Uber. Ensure your customers’ safe return home. They can return to pick up their cars as sober people in the morning. So, here we can end this list of many ways managers can serve alcohol sensibly.

  • Step in occasionally

In the end, managers should always watch over their workers. You should step in when a customer is intimidating. You should back up your staff and help them deal with abusive customers. When a customer’s anger escalates, it’s your cue to take the reins. Bartenders should know you have their back so they will properly manage overindulged customers. Your cooperation will prevent your customers from harming themselves or someone else. So, learn to step in occasionally.


In conclusion, you should train your employees regarding responsible alcohol serving. This course helps them serve all customers properly without causing anyone harm. Check a customer’s ID and stop minors from sneaking into your establishment. Establish precise policies and measure how much alcohol you’re serving. Watch out for intoxicated customers, serve them slowly, and refuse to serve them when they cannot hold their liquor. Always have a taxi service on standby if a customer has to be sent home due to overindulgence. Also, as the manager, you must back up your bartenders. Always be ready to step in when a customer crosses the line. That’s how can you can keep your liquor license intact!