The Responsible Serving of Alcoholic Beverages: A Complete Staff Training Course for Bars, Restaurants and Caterers

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This New Book & CD-ROM incorporates the legalities and responsibilities of serving alcohol either behind a bar, at a table, or at an off-premise function. Alcohol sales are an important source of revenue for many establishments. However establishments may face the potential for civil and criminal liability should one of your customers become intoxicated and cause damage to themselves, others or property.

Good management and employee training is the key to preventing these problems before they become an issue. The Responsible Serving of Alcoholic beverages training course provides management and liquor service staff with the knowledge and awareness necessary to responsibly serve alcohol in licensed premises. Covers:

• Alcohol and Legal Issues

• Understanding BAC Levels

• Responsible serving

• ID Checking

• Handling difficult customers

• Designated Drivers

• How alcohol effects the body

• identifying and handling problem situations

• Minors & Fake Id's

• Learn how to reduce liability lawsuits

• Local Law Enforcement issues

• Reduce liability insurance coverage premiums

• A complete and comprehensive yet inexpensive in-house training program. The companion CD-ROM is included with the print version of this book; however is not available for download with the electronic version.  It may be obtained separately by contacting Atlantic Publishing Group at

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice.  Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780910627634
  • Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/24/2006
  • Edition description: Book with CD-Rom
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt


By Beth Dugan

Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-910627-63-0

Chapter One


This section explains what alcohol is and how it affects people. Its history, chemical composition, and medical effects are discussed.


A natural substance, alcohol is a complex chemical compound created in several ways. Of the four general types, ethanol, made from plant material, is the only form consumable by humans. Since a weak form of beer can be a byproduct of bread, alcohol has been around for some time, as shown by archeological evidence.

Most alcohol is categorized as fermented or distilled. To make fermented alcohol, the process begins with mashing and heating plant material, after which sugar and yeast are added and alcohol is allowed to develop. Grains, such as barley or wheat, ferment to produce a member of the beer family, and grapes produce wine. Fermented products usually top out at 14 percent of alcohol by volume because the chemical relationship between sugar and yeast will not allow them to go much higher. Beer and wine are the most popular types of fermented products, although ciders, meads, and fruit wines also fall into this category.

Distilled beverages are made from a fermented base. Plant material, such as corn, is fermented anddistilled by adding water to the base and heating it under pressure. The steam is captured by a series of tubes and, when cooled, almost pure alcohol is left behind, picking up the taste of the original mash. Alcohol can be further distilled and refined increasing the volume of alcohol compared to water each time it occurs. Distilled beverages range from 15 percent alcohol to almost 100 percent alcohol by volume. Because of this, distilled beverages pack more of a punch than fermented ones. Distilled beverages are normally aged after production, as their taste can be quite harsh. All spirits, such as vodkas, gins, rums, whiskeys, and cordials, are distilled beverages.

A third category of beverages exists called blended. Most blends start with a fermented beverage, such as wine, and then the corresponding distillate is added. However, since their alcohol content is close to distilled beverages, you can safely treat them as such.

Alcohol straight out of the bottle may also contain other additives hidden as trade secrets. Usually it contains water, remnants of the original flavor agent, and additional flavors - natural and artificial - to boost its taste. Neon-colored cordials may also contain color additives. Moreover, preservatives such as sulfites may have been added. Additional ingredients or additives are listed on ingredient panels on the back of the bottle, but labeling laws are not consistent across products, and imported items may be exempt. For further information, check with your liquor sales representative especially for common allergens such as sulfites, which customers may inquire about.


As soon as someone has an alcoholic drink, some of the alcohol enters the bloodstream directly from the mouth. The rest passes to the stomach and small intestine where it's absorbed by passing through the cell walls and into the bloodstream. Alcohol circulates until the liver can break it down. Since the liver can only break down approximately one drink per hour, the remaining alcohol keeps circulating in the bloodstream until the liver can process it. This circulating alcohol (which enters into and interferes with the workings of the body's cells) causes the characteristics of intoxication. Once broken down, alcohol is excreted as urine through the bladder. Within three minutes of drinking, alcohol begins to hit the brain via the bloodstream.

Alcohol and the initial ingredients used in the fermentation process have some health benefits - in small doses. A moderate use of alcohol appears to have a beneficial effect on coronary heart disease acting as a "roto-router" for the arteries. Alcohol may also prevent some types of strokes, but heavy drinking increases the risk of other types. A drink can help customers relax and unwind. Alcohol has some pain relief benefits, although the amount needed for severe pain is close to coma level. Paired with food, wines and beers can elevate the taste of some dishes. Wine has long been used in religious ceremonies cementing its relationship with special landmarks in people's lives.

If a little alcohol is good, then a lot of alcohol can be bad. It appears - especially for women - that alcohol can increase blood pressure. Heavy drinkers and alcoholics are at significant risk of contracting alcoholic hepatitis, or cirrhosis of the liver, and some forms of cancer. Alcohol can also interfere with fetal development and the effectiveness of most popularly prescribed medications.

Alcohol acts on the brain as a depressant, shutting down the higher reasoning centers causing a loss of control and inhibitions. After this, alcohol goes to work on the cerebral cortex and neural base functions: the automatic part of the brain that controls breathing, heart rate, and the digestive tract. Once this section is shut down, the individual is in a coma, near death, and extremely hard to resuscitate.

Alcohol also acts as a diuretic. To process alcohol, the liver pulls water from cells increasing the drinker's thirst. As water depletes, the person's thirst will increase - possibly causing them to drink more alcohol. The diuretic properties of alcohol also interfere with normal bladder control, creating a need to urinate more often and thus further depleting the system of water.

Alcohol causes the blood vessels near the surface of the skin to expand, creating a flush and sense of warmth in the person drinking. Customers at this level perceive the ambient room temperature as being very warm. For those who are heavy drinkers, repeated damage could result in permanent flushing of the skin.

Alcohol also interferes with the body's ability to regulate blood sugar. Because alcohol takes priority over sugar, the liver focuses on breaking down alcohol, allowing excess sugar to circulate within the bloodstream. The sugar overload influences appetite and causes headaches followed by hangovers, as the sugar continues to travel in the bloodstream waiting for the alcohol to leave. Once the alcohol is gone, it takes the now-overworked liver a few more hours to process the sugar before the final side effects of drinking are gone.


Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the amount of alcohol compared to blood in a person's body at a particular point in time. A BAC of 0.1 means that for every 1,000 drops of blood, one drop of alcohol is present. The only way to measure a person's BAC accurately is with a breathalyzer test or by drawing blood - two methods not usually available in the local watering hole.

Since BAC is dependent upon the amount of blood in a person's body, heavier and taller customers will have a lower BAC than shorter, lighter people after the same number of drinks. Body composition - for example, the difference between an athlete and the same-weight couch potato - also influences blood volume and BAC. Since there is no way of knowing anyone's exact BAC at any given time, most establishments use two different tests to approximate BAC levels.

The first method uses a BAC behavior chart. Comparing a patron's behavior with the chart means that an approximate level can be determined. This method, known as "probable cause" by law officials, shows a type of behavior with an associated BAC level. The chart is based on averages; each person is different and may be affected by alcohol differently each time they drink. On the following pages, some factors that may affect the absorption of alcohol and BAC levels are listed.


The following chart gives the external cues that correlate to the approximate BAC level.

Another way to calculate BAC is to use standard drink charts. The charts are based on a person's approximate weight and sex, as men metabolize alcohol at a slower rate than women. The charts include the number of drinks per hour less the amount (.0015 BAC) metabolized by the liver. These charts are approximations as each individual may metabolize alcohol at a slightly different rate. When using the charts, make sure that you look at the correct one: pick the one with the correct number of drinks over the number of hours that the person has been in the bar. A person who consumes five drinks in one hour will be more intoxicated than a person who consumes the same five drinks over the course of five hours. As each hour goes by, their liver metabolizes the alcohol, lessening the amount in their bloodstream. Some standard drink charts are included in this chapter.


While each person reacts differently to alcohol, there are ways in which a bar owner can help to slow down the rate of absorption.

Serve Food

Food will slow down alcohol's passage into the small intestine. Amazingly, the old bar standbys of fried, fatty foods slow down alcohol the most; for example, chicken wings and strips, battered vegetable appetizers, and breaded fried cheese nuggets. Selling appetizers with beer is one way to slow down the absorption rate for a customer. Suggest food whenever someone orders a drink. For late nights after the cook goes home, frozen pizzas and pizza ovens may be a great addition for behind the bar. They also increase sales for the establishment.

Carbonated Drinks

Carbonation, shown by the fizzy bubbles in some drinks, helps to speed alcohol through the stomach and into the small intestine. Bartenders should serve champagne and any soda-based drinks carefully, as they speed up the rate of intoxication.

Amount of Alcohol in the Drink

Different drink families have different amounts of liquor in them. For example, rum and Coke is one alcohol unit mixed with soda. A martini is made of gin and vermouth - two alcohol units plus garnish. Long Island Iced Tea is made by combining several units of alcohol with soda. Every bartender needs to know how to count drinks and how much liquor should go into each glass. Managers need to create recipes and standard measures for each drink that allow accurate counting by servers. If a bartender over-pours or does not follow recipes, the customer may become intoxicated sooner than expected because of extra alcohol in their drink.


Certain factors are out of an owner's control and the following can affect the same customer differently each time they drink. Training servers to watch for visual cues of intoxication from the BAC chart means that they can adjust service.

Rate of Consumption

As the liver can only process one drink per hour, a guest who consumes multiple drinks within an hour risks alcohol stacking up in the bloodstream, much like a series of planes circling an airport. As each hour of drinking goes by, more and more alcohol stacks up.

For example, Joe enters your bar and drinks three beers over the course of two hours, or one drink every forty minutes. His table would look like this:

When Joe leaves, he has the equivalent of one drink still in his bloodstream. One hour after he leaves, the alcohol will finally metabolize out.

Sam enters your bar and drinks six beers over the course of two hours, or one drink every twenty minutes. His table would look like this:

When Sam leaves, he has the equivalent of four drinks still in his bloodstream and may be legally drunk - depending upon his size and your state's BAC limits. It will take him four hours to metabolize the alcohol before it's completely out of his system.

If Joe and Sam are sitting next to one another, Sam should start exhibiting the signs of intoxication much faster than Joe.

Assuming they both weigh about 220 pounds, their relative BAC levels are as follows:

Joe, according to the chart, would probably be loosening his tie at the end of the second hour, while Sam could be showing marked lapses in judgment and his coordination may be impaired. Obviously, while Sam is not legally drunk, his driving ability would be impaired.

Customer drinking rates - how fast they drink - have a major impact on how intoxicated customers get. Bar owners who want to have customer-friendly yet legally responsible bars will try to influence this rate in any way possible through strategies listed in the second section of this book.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is where a customer drinks very rapidly in a short period to increase the effects of alcohol. Binge drinking, much like Sam's rate of consumption in the previous example, will produce signs of intoxication at a much faster rate since the drinker is purposely allowing alcohol to stack up in the bloodstream. Binge drinking is popular with college students, especially those who are underage, and when they turn 21, they may continue this practice when entering the bar scene.

Body Fat

Alcohol can pass through muscle tissue but not through fat. Therefore, leaner, athletically built customers may have a lower BAC than customers with more body fat, even though the two weigh the same.

Body Size

The bigger - and generally heavier - the customer, the more blood in their body. Therefore, drink for drink their BAC chart shows lower levels than that of a smaller person. This single factor dramatically affects BAC charts and how they are calculated for each person. Since it's rude to ask customers their weight, servers need to be able to size up a customer before checking a chart.


The older people get, the more their enzymes and liver tend to slow down. Older patrons may also be on medication that affects how alcohol is absorbed.


Female hormones makes a difference to how the liver metabolizes alcohol. Women are also smaller and have more body fat than men of the same size.


Excerpted from THE RESPONSIBLE SERVING OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES by Beth Dugan Copyright © 2006 by Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2006

    Serious read about a serious subject

    Restaurants that sell alcohol work with a double edge sword. The alcohol sales are beneficial because it ups the revenue for these businesses but there are also many laws which govern the industry which can cause headaches if these laws are not followed. The authors of this book do a fabulous job of how to serve alcohol properly to protect not only the restaurant but the individual who is selling the alcohol as well. The book is easy to follow and to understand. It begins by having simple definitions which everyone who serves alcohol must know such as what alcohol is, what the effects are on the body, what BAC stands for and what it is important. It also goes into detail about the different things that can affect the BAC in an individual how many drinks, if they have eaten food, amount of alcohol in a drink, and the size of the person. It also goes into complete detail on the types of alcohol regulations that are out there. The second section of the book goes into how the managing of the alcohol should occur and how to deal with those issues which are bound to come up such as minors, how to hire good bartenders, what type of licenses are needed, and how to cut someone off when need be. It also has a section on what to do when a legal issue comes up, such as hiring a good lawyer, and keeping documentation. Section three is how to train the employees which are going to handle the alcohol. It goes into detail about the many parts of the training process from checking identification to watching the client for signs of having too much drink. The authors also suggest that each of the employees also have refresher courses every so often when needed. The book will likely benefit many in the restaurant industry and show that with responsible service of alcohol, everyone wins.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2006

    Serving Alcohol from A-Z

    Owning a business where alcohol is served, while profitable, has never been more dangerous than it is today. From under-age drinkers to inebriated customers and everything that falls in between, a business must be proactive in protecting their assets. All it takes is one honest mistake to land yourself on a ¿watch list¿ or even worse ¿ fines and license suspension. This book is a wealth of information and resources for everyone from a small pub to a concessionaire at a major baseball stadium. Dugan provides a step-by-step training manual that is easy to follow and simple to implement. There is even a CD included that contains every chart and form in the book so that you can print it out and put it to use in your daily routine. Dugan gives us a comprehensive training program covering issues such as management responsibilities, types of customers, training and staff concerns, legal matters, and assessing customer. Following the policies and procedures outlined in this book is a solid step towards protecting your future, growing your business, and avoiding litigation. This book is a must-read for anyone who serves alcohol as a business. People who host private parties would do well to read this book also, especially during this holiday season!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2006

    A Conscientious Guide

    Stop, Look, and Listen! should be the subtitle of this excellent resource guide. Beth Dugan starts with a chapter called What is Alcohol?, and does not let up until she concludes with a creative section of ⿿modules.⿝ These training modules contain the most valuable information this guide provides. From calculating drinking ages, checking ID⿿s, understanding state laws, identifying intoxication and understanding a customer⿿s rate of consumption, she offers a resource guide that can assist new as well as experienced bar owners. Serving alcoholic beverages at your establishment can increase revenues and turn into an enjoyable experience but can also open you up to a myriad of legal issues. This invaluable book walks you through the steps on how to responsibly serve alcohol, how to train a competent and responsible staff and how to handle emergencies. Although included in the book, the accompanying CD-ROM presents handy details such as state law information, easy to read charts on calculating alcohol content, and the previously mentioned modules. As an extra, the CD-ROM also offers printable versions of the posters included in the book that promote responsible drinking. Overall, this book is a must-have tool for any bar owner, restaurant operator or caterer a resource that has the information to prepare you for the many challenges faced when serving alcoholic beverages in your food service business, and one that encourages you to responsibly embrace the opportunity.

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