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Creating a fun, vibrant yet safe space for guests should be top of every bar’s agenda. In this article, we delve into the finer details of responsible serving, how to spot the signs of intoxication and promote responsible serving in your bar.

One Step Ahead

As bar professionals, it’s important to be aware of the impact responsible serving has both on the business and guests at the bar, making sure you’re always ahead of the game. When alcohol is misused, it can obviously cause a whole host of problems, so it is useful to know how to spot the signs of intoxication from an early stage and when to take action to prevent any harm.

First off, when serving customers at the bar, always be aware that numerous factors influence how the body processes alcohol - from the general health of the guest to the amount consumed (and how quickly). Other considerations could include how much they’ve eaten and whether they are male or female, as well as their weight and body size. Bear in mind that every human body and every guest is unique and will process alcohol differently.

When someone drinks too much alcohol or more than their body can eliminate, they become drunk or intoxicated. Different patterns of drinking, such as ‘binge drinking’ can lead to rapid drunkenness as the body can only process one standard drink per hour. When there’s too much alcohol in a guest’s body, it can lead to alcohol poisoning, unconsciousness or, more serious, death. No bar wants to be in this position so make sure you are up to speed with the signs of intoxication so you can spot them and stop things escalating.

Striking the Right Balance

Balance is key when it comes to responsible serving - teaming amazing drinks with responsible alcohol consumption. This includes the serving of accurate measurements of alcohol. Not only does having precise alcohol measures ensure a balanced flavor and a consistent experience, it also allows guests to keep track of how much they are drinking.

If someone shows signs of intoxication and orders another drink, offer them an alternative such as a soft drink or water, and maybe even some bar snacks. Although food cannot eliminate alcohol from the body any faster, it does slow down how quickly the body absorbs alcohol.

It’s also good practice to check that the guest has a safe way to get home and that they don’t drive. Find out if they are alone or with friends and take action to ensure they can leave the bar safely.

Too Much?

It will take a guest up to an hour to absorb a standard drink / unit so do keep a check on just how often they (or others in their group) are coming to the bar.

There are certain behaviors to be looking for when spotting any intoxicated guests. These include:

● Slurring during speech

● Talking very loudly

● Stumbling

● Aggressive behavior

● Spilling drinks

As bar managers or bartenders, make it your responsibility to help prevent guests from overindulgence and recognize when to stop serving.

Team Strong

Make sure you and any team members are properly briefed on spotting signs of intoxication and are fully aware of the best course of action to take. Perhaps bring it up as part of a team meetings so you can share best practice and support one another when putting responsible serving into practice. This will ensure that everyone is on the case when it comes to looking after your guests.


Try these low alcohol cocktail recipes to help with promoting responsible serving in your bar.

Precursory Cocktail


● 1 oz. Tawny Port

● 1 oz. Belsazar Rosé Vermouth

● 1/2 oz. Sugar syrup

● 1/4 oz. Lemon juice

● 2 Dash orange bitters

● 2 Dash Angostura bitters


● Take all ingredients and add to a cocktail shaker

● Add ice and shake for 10-15 seconds until very cold

● Strain cocktail into chilled glass

● Finish cocktail with the small zest of a lemon peel.

(Alcohol content: 0.5 fl oz. per serve)

Fresh Quince of Bel Air


● 1 oz. Spiced quince wine

● 1 oz. Matured pear wine

● 1/2 oz. Fresh lime juice

● 1/3 oz. Ron Zacapa

● 1/3 oz. Runny honey

● 1/3 oz. Falernum


● Build all ingredients in highball glass

● Add crushed ice and swizzle for dilution

● Top cocktail with extra crushed ice

● Garnish with a sprig of mint

(Alcohol content: 0.5 fl oz. per serve)


● Intoxication can lead to serious problems including; unconsciousness, liver problems and death

● It takes the body one hour to process one standard drink

● Accurately measuring alcohol ensures consistent flavor and allows customers to keep track of their consumption

● Everybody processes alcohol differently due to gender, size and weight, whether they have eaten, amount consumed etc.

● The signs of intoxication include; slurred speech, stumbling, aggressive behavior