Tipsy customers can bring out all kinds of bad behavior, along with some very awkward moments. The restaurant’s first line of defense will always be the staff; especially the bartender. Nobody wants an out of control drunk patron on premise. It does nothing positive for the business or everyone involved. But how exactly are establishments supposed to deal with this type of guest? The answer is rarely simple and is more likely to be just as complicated as any drunkard’s logic. So, instead of letting it come to a head, why not shift the focus of your strategy to preventing these drunken episodes to happen in the first place?
Slow down the rate of intoxication
Part of the Safe Food Handling Practices and Procedures is the proper handling of intoxicated customers. Aside from moderating the alcoholic drinks that you serve, it’s also advisable to encourage the customer to eat something: like chips and salsa, peanuts, or pretzels. As the bartender, you can also politely offer a glass of water or other non-alcoholic beverages. When dealing with a group, you must always try to only serve alcohol to those who ask for it.
Look out for signs of intoxication
The actual signs may vary, but you should have little trouble in spotting the guests who may be a couple of glasses away from being disruptive. Generally, you must look out for:
- loud and slurred speech
- inability to stay balanced
- poor motor skills and recognition
- change in demeanor and over-aggressiveness
- excessive talking and use of foul language
Stay occupied, but never out of focus
The experienced bartenders may try to keep themselves busy with simple tasks in order to moderate the amount of alcohol being served to tipsy customers. The key here is balance and timing, since you don’t want any of your guests feeling completely left out. In addition, you must also keep an eye on your customer or at least keep them engaged with something else, if possible.
Subtly indicate that they need a break
If all else fails, it’s time to subtly tell the customer that they could use a ‘break.’ Offer them a glass of water, and suggest a cup of coffee or food. If luck’s on your side, the guest should agree that they’re done for the night. You may have to politely, but firmly tell them that it’ll be the last drink for the evening. No matter what, try and remember that you’re doing this for their best interest.
Most importantly, businesses can be held accountable for resulting injuries if they sell or serve alcoholic beverages to patrons who are visibly intoxicated. Thus, restaurants would surely love to have bartenders who aren’t just great at mixing drinks, but also competent and assertive when handling tipsy customers.
Professional training on Alcohol Serving and Selling are available online through Learn2Serve.com.