Eyes Wide OpenMarch 1, 2009 By: Tim Kirkland Night Club and Bar Magazine
In a busy nightclub environment, it’s easy to simply focus on the speed and volume of drinks served. Still, particular attention must be paid to whom they are being sold. To best protect the establishment and show care for your guests, make sure your entire team understands the importance of monitoring guest consumption and can recognize the signs of intoxication. Here are some tips:
Keep Track of the Number of Drinks Served in a Given Period
Especially during busy times and in establishments with multiple bars, beer tubs, shot servers and other beverage service sources, it can be extremely difficult to track what has been served to guests during a particular amount of time. Open and monitor running tabs to track beverage service (standard for credit card payment, but a good idea for cash-and-carry too).
Refer to the check detail often and compare the number of drinks purchased against the time the check was opened. Frequently printing updated checks and attaching them to the credit card is a great way for multiple bartenders to communicate with each other and responsibly serve the same guests. Noting how many drinks are being consumed per hour can be a great early warning system before guests begin to show signs of intoxication.
Be Aware of Behavioral Clues
The first outward signals that a guest may be headed for over-consumption are behavioral in nature. Because everyone has a different personality, however, it’s hard to pin down any one behavior as an indicator. Instead, look for changes.
The quiet, reserved girl who suddenly becomes the life of the party or the boisterous joke-teller who becomes sullen and stand-offish are displaying such changes. It’s at this first stage that many guests display a loss of inhibitions (dancing on table) or impaired judgment (dancing on table with boss’ wife). This also is when obvious behaviors such as combativeness, overt flirtatiousness and weepiness surface. When these behaviors are first detected, slow beverage alcohol service by recommending alcohol-free drinks and suggesting food.
Despite our best efforts to serve responsibly, some guests are equally committed to over-consuming. Soon after the behavioral indicators surface, an intoxicated guest will display physical signs that are difficult to mask.
Intoxicated guests will first display slowed reaction times. Look for guests who take too long to respond to a direct question, or to look at you, well after you’ve begun speaking to them. If allowed to continue to drink, intoxicated guests will eventually display a gradual loss of motor skills.
Difficulty performing basic tasks, such as picking up change from the bar, lighting a cigarette and ultimately walking and staying awake, are all danger signs that must be dealt with immediately. Upon detection of these symptoms, all beverage alcohol service must be discontinued and the guest’s safe transport home becomes the priority.
Ultimately, the best way to prevent over-serving guests is also the best way to please them. Make genuine connections with your guests at every interaction. Rather than simply serving drinks and taking money, take the time to engage each guest in brief conversation, using the opportunity to assess his status. In practice, responsible service is really just great service. NCB