Bartenders debate level of responsible service

The best bartenders get a kick out of knowing they’re helping people have a good time – but what if it goes too far? Should bartenders be to blame if someone drinks themselves into injury or illness?

Bartending is a profession dedicated to the art of hospitality, but working with alcohol is not a position of power that should ever be taken lightly.

While the cocktail sector is exploding with boundary-pushing innovation, it is imperative the industry does not become detached from the dangers associated with what is, after all, an intoxicating drug. In numerous countries including the UK, the US and Australia, legislation has been put in place making it illegal to sell alcohol to a person who is obviously drunk, and similarly, to buy an alcoholic drink for someone you know to be drunk.

However, despite the foundation of such laws, questions abound over who is responsible for ensuring the industry is not plagued with a problem of over-consumption. During recent months the media has been awash with a string of high profile tragedies involving the apparent “over-serving” of alcohol, a handful of which have had calamitous consequences.

In April, Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach, Jersey Shore, US, was fined US$500,000 and had its licence revoked for a month after allegedly over-serving alcohol to a woman who later died in a car crash.


Tragic incident

The incident unfolded in 2013 after Ashley Chieco, 26, left Martell’s in another person’s car, which collided into an on-coming vehicle killing herself and injuring the other driver, Dana Corrar. The survivor suffered two broken legs, broken ribs and will “never work again, never walk again normally and never be pain free,” according to her lawyer, Paul Edelstein, a personal injury specialist. Martell’s pleaded “no contest” to the charge of serving alcohol to an intoxicated person in exchange for the fine.

“Businesses that profit from the sale of alcohol are well aware of its dangers, particularly when combined with people who then get into vehicles,” Edelstein says. “It is akin to a shop selling bullets and then allowing its customers access to a gun when they leave. Hopefully the attention alone will make a bartender think twice before continuing to serve someone and inquire as to how they are leaving a location that does not provide access to mass transit.”

So when it comes to alcohol consumption where does the responsibility of the bartender start and that of the consumer end? For some, all persons involved – the consumer, bartender and management – have a collective duty for the wellbeing of both patrons and staff.


Know your limits

“It’s everyone’s job to make sure the guests are happy and safe at the same time,” comments Kate Gerwin, general manager of HSL Hospitality and winner of the Bols Around the World Bartending Championships 2014. “First and foremost obviously the customer should know their own limits, however we all know that is not always the case. Bartenders should make safe service of alcohol a huge priority in day-to-day business and the owner of the bar should take a vested interest in the education of the staff about over-serving and the dangers and consequences.”

But for others, the responsibility rests with those in a managerial position who need to step up to their line of duties. “Inevitably, the responsibility lies with the management chain – they are the licensees,” says British bartender and entrepreneur JJ Goodman, co-founder of the London Cocktail Club. “In the UK we have an inherent history of binge drinking, so customers aren’t very perceptive to being told they’re not allowed another drink. When that sort of situation occurs, someone more senior and experienced needs to come in to handle it and command control as quickly as possible.”


Diffusing the situation

Similar snippets of advice surrounding this irrefutably sensitive subject are echoed throughout the industry. Accusing guests of being drunk is deemed as the biggest faux pas, and a sure fire way to escalate an already testing episode. Avoiding embarrassment, ascertaining a first name basis and gaining the aid and trust of any peers who may be present are all recommended methods when it comes to diffusing any drama involved with this task.

Various initiatives have been instigated to curtail irresponsible service and consumption. At the end of 2014, the British Beer and Pub Association launched a poster campaign in the UK to drive awareness among consumers and on-trade establishments of the law surrounding serving people who are obviously drunk.

“It’s not about getting more prosecutions; it’s about raising awareness,” advises Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association. “It’s important we don’t turn pubs and bars into fortresses – we want to encourage people to go to these socially responsible places. But we need to find a balance between staff responsibility and personal responsibility.”


Source: The Spirits Business
by Melita Kiely
5th February, 2016


Are their prescription drugs that reduce the drive to drink?

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Scientists have shown that a drug that normalizes dopamine levels in the brain can reduce alcohol cravings in people dependent on drink.

The finding was based on two studies, one conducted on people and one on rats. In the human trial, patients who took the experimental drug showed a marked reduction in alcohol craving. A separate animal study suggested that the drug works by acting on dopamine levels.

“It is proof of concept” that alcohol dependency can be treated by targeting the dopamine system, said Pia Steensland, neuroscientist at Karolinska Institute in Sweden and co-author of both studies. “We need to do larger trials” to validate the results.

Current drugs for alcohol dependency aren’t especially effective. The population of patients is genetically diverse, so only certain subgroups benefit. Prescription rates are low. As a result, the need for better medicines is huge.

Alcohol makes the brain’s reward system release more dopamine than normal, triggering a feeling of well-being. But as more alcohol is drunk, the more the reward system is desensitized and the less dopamine is released. Eventually, a person drinks more alcohol not just to feel euphoric, but to attain a state of physical and emotional normality. Thus, addiction sets in.

More than 16 million adults in the U.S. have an alcohol-use disorder and nearly 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institutes of Health. In 2006, alcohol misuse cost the U.S. economy $223.5 billion, the NIH said.

For the human study, published Wednesday in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, scientists recruited 56 Swedish alcohol dependent men and women, who typically would drink the equivalent of a bottle of wine a day.

The participants abstained from drink for at least four days. Half were then given a placebo and half got OSU6162, a drug believed to stabilize dopamine levels. The patients were randomized and neither they nor the researchers knew who was getting the experimental drug and who was getting the placebo.

For two weeks, the participants could drink as much as they liked. On day 15, each person was offered a glass of their favorite drink. According to the study, the OSU group reported not enjoying their first sip as much as the placebo group. After the drink was finished, the OSU group reported a lower craving for alcohol compared to the placebo group.

In addition, those with the poorest impulse control-and thus at greater risk of relapse after a period of abstinence-responded best to the experimental drug.

Both the OSU and placebo groups reported only mild side effects. This is significant because other dopamine-based medicines, such as those used to treat schizophrenia, completely block dopamine and can lead to nasty side-effects, such as nausea.

The rights to OSU6162 are owned by Arvid Carlsson, professor emeritus at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden and co-author of the human study. Dr. Carlsson, 92 years old, shared in the 2000 Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering that dopamine is a transmitter in the brain. His team also developed OSU6162.

To better understand how OSU6162 might work, Dr. Steensland and other researchers did a separate study on rats, also published Wednesday in the journal Addiction Biology. Rats that voluntarily drank alcohol over the course of almost a year had lower dopamine levels than animals that drank no alcohol. When OSU6162 was given to the “alcohol rats,” their dopamine levels returned to normal.

The human trial wasn’t designed to comprehensively evaluate whether the experimental drug could help people drink less. But because of the promising early-stage results, Dr. Steensland and her colleagues now hope to do a longer-term trial involving many more patients.

More than 16 million adults in the U.S. have an alcohol-use disorder

Source: WSJ By Gautam Naik Oct. 14, 2015

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Will self-serve beer render bartenders obsolete?

Your next draft may be pulled not by a bartender — but by you.

A small but growing number of gastropubs and fast-casual restaurants are going self-serve, installing systems that enable drinkers to draw their own taps, similar to the soda fountain at McDonald’s but far more sophisticated.

Establishments in the notoriously low-margin restaurant industry say the technology not only cuts labor costs but also boosts revenue by encouraging customers to sample what can be a bewildering array of Belgian quads, India pale ales or oatmeal stouts on a menu.

The technology has another attraction: It can measure and charge literally by the sip — something not lost on Barrel Republic, a craft beer bar in Oceanside and San Diego’s Pacific Beach where there are dozens of craft beers on tap and no bartender.

Sean Hale, general manager of the recently opened Oceanside pub, said customers pay for what would be free samples at traditional pubs while making it simpler to try exotic brews.

“They love it,” he said. “It’s about tasting all these different beers and the fun of exploring.”

Fast-casual sausage joint Dog Haus is on board too. The chain has a four-tap self-serve system at its Santa Ana store, and a six-tap one is coming soon to a location near Cal State Fullerton.

Quasim Riaz, the chain’s co-founder, said that with customers charged by the 10th of an ounce, there is less waste. Customers tend to be more careful than a bartender who might be prone to spill, over-pour or give away a beer “on the house,” he said.

“In theory you get a 100% yield on a keg,” he said.

Both establishments installed systems from iPourIt, a Santa Ana company that is one of the leading providers of the technology.

“Our goal is to really redefine the concept of craft beer dispense,” said company co-founder Joseph McCarthy.

Its system, like others, requires drinkers to provide an ID to receive a wireless bracelet or card that enables them to operate the tap. Providers sell table- and wall-mounted systems, along with mobile units for fairs and sporting events.

But some labor is required to ensure that establishments are not selling beer to inebriated customers, which can pose a legal liability. After a customer drinks a certain amount — usually two full beers — an employee has to determine whether they are sober enough for more.

The technology runs about $25,000 for a wall-mounted, 20-tap system, plus a monthly maintenance fee. But if they prove profitable, the systems could become ubiquitous across an industry in which online ordering and reservations already are popular, said Brandon Gerson of restaurant data firm CHD Expert.

“A system like this didn’t even exist 10 years ago,” he said. “I don’t see why they wouldn’t have the potential to become just as standard as a booth.”

It’s unclear how many self-serve beer locations there are nationwide, but McCarthy said iPourIt is in 42 locations in 23 states and two Canadian provinces. Fourteen of those are exclusively self-serve with no bartender.

Josh Goodman of rival PourMyBeer in Wheeling, Ill., which previously sold and installed iPourIt taps, said his company has sold its own self-pour systems to about 80 locations since 2013.

“In a location with 50 taps, you typically have to have around 20 to 30 employees,” Goodman said. “With us, you can easily have 10 and not really be stretched.”

But the traditional bartender isn’t about to go the way of the elevator operator, not just yet anyway.

Tom’s Urban, a gastropub in downtown Los Angeles, offers self-pour, but those taps are at only two tables out of roughly 250 at the L.A. Live location.

Aaron Garisek, the pub’s director of operations, said its PourMyBeer taps are great for sports fans who don’t want to miss a play by ordering from a server or going to the bar. But he doesn’t foresee going completely self-serve because personal connections with bartenders and servers simply are too popular.

“I think it’s really important to have that smile,” he said.

Indeed, self-pour could prove to have limited appeal.

Nick Petrillo, a research analyst at IBISWorld, said the concept may seem cool, but in practice might complicate the experience for some customers. For example, drinkers may make bad pours, or spill more often than a trained bartender, leaving the tap areas sticky and unsanitary.

“This technology seems like a total buzz kill,” Petrillo said.

Chris Bright, president of Zpizza International, said that has not been his experience.

The franchise pizza chain recently opened a “Tap Room” location with iPourIt technology near Los Angeles International Airport and wants to sign leases for 20 new self-pour beer locations in Southern California by early next year.

Bright said the chain is eating the cost of bad pours, but the systems are still moneymakers because Zpizza can serve a lengthy beer menu, while not hiring an army of servers. And customers, he said, are more likely to order another beer if they don’t have to stand in line again and pay at the register.

Customers like Chris Scales, who on a recent afternoon sipped a pale ale he poured at the location near airport, seem to bear that out.

“I don’t like interacting with bartenders,” he said. “They are always too busy.”

One table over, Shawn Herbst was enjoying a round with two colleagues. In town for a conference near LAX, the 44-year-old Floridian said he liked the self-pour concept, in part because it seems easier to try a bunch of new beers by tasting only a little.

But to test that theory he first needs to break his habit: a full pint of King Harbor California Saison rested on the table in front of him.

8 Medicines That Don’t Mix With Alcohol

An alcoholic beverage every now and then may be just what the doctor ordered — unless you’re taking certain medications. Downing a drink when you’re taking these drugs may produce dangerous side effects — and your risk increases as you age. Not only does the body get slower at eliminating medication, but the number of drugs you take also typically increases.

Drugs from hangover

 Learn more at – servsafe alcohol for responsible alcohol training.

Prescription Medications

1. Pain meds, sedatives and sleeping pills

Such as: Demerol, Percocet, Vicodin (for pain); Valium, Ativan, Klonopin (for anxiety and epilepsy); Ambien, Lunesta, Prosom (for sleeping)

Potential reactions with alcohol: drowsiness, dizziness, slowed or difficult breathing, impaired motor control, unusual behavior, and problems with your memory, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In rare instances, interactions can also lead to serious harm or even death. Lewis Nelson, M.D., professor of emergency medicine at NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, also points out that with extended-release meds there are concerns about a reaction called “dumping of dose,” which means drinking alcohol may cause an entire day’s worth of medicine to be released into your system at once, greatly upping your risk of side effects.

2. Arthritis meds

Such as: Celebrex, Naprosyn, Voltaren

Potential reactions with alcohol: ulcers, stomach bleeding, liver damage. Alcohol should be avoided if taking Celebrex, in particular, because the medication already causes a higher risk of cardiovascular side effects, such as heart attacks and strokes, and alcohol increases that risk.

3. Blood clot meds

Such as: Coumadin

Potential reactions with alcohol: Occasional drinking may lead to internal bleeding; heavier drinking may cause bleeding or may have the opposite effect, resulting in blood clots, stroke or heart attack, according to the NIAAA. “The liver makes proteins that help the blood to clot, which is why even social drinkers need to be careful when taking Coumadin,” explains Amy Tiemeier, associate professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy.

4. Antibiotics

Such as: Zithromax (often called Z-Paks), Flagyl, Nizoral

Potential reactions with alcohol: fast heartbeat; sudden changes in blood pressure; stomach pain; vomiting; headache; and liver damage (with Nizoral). While numerous antibiotics don’t interact dangerously with alcohol, some do. Alcohol also can make common unpleasant symptoms of antibiotics (upset stomach, dizziness and so on) worse, as well as reduce your energy, so it takes longer to recover from whatever is making you sick, says the Mayo Clinic.

5. Diabetes meds

Such as: Glucotrol, Glynase, Micronase, Diabinese

Potential reactions with alcohol: Blood sugar levels fall to dangerously low levels; “flushing reaction” that involves nausea, vomiting, blood pressure issues, headaches and a racing heartbeat. “These medications can actually block the breakdown of alcohol,” explains Nelson.

Over-the-Counter Meds

6. Nonprescription pain meds

Such as: Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, Excedrin, Motrin

Potential reactions with alcohol: stomach upset, bleeding and ulcers; liver damage (acetaminophen, like Tylenol, and Excedrin); rapid heartbeat. “Tylenol at excessive doses can cause liver damage, and alcohol can make it cause that damage at lower levels,” says Rabia Atayee, associate clinical professor of pharmacy at UC San Diego Health. Also, many prescription meds, like Norco, contain acetaminophen, so it’s important to be mindful of taking them with alcohol. On the advice of an expert panel that reviewed new information about nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen and their risks, the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 strengthened its warnings of heart attack and stroke risk increase even with short-term use, and warned the risk may begin within a few weeks of starting to take an NSAID. “Toxicities in both the heart and stomach lining can happen faster than we once thought,” says Atayee.

Such as: Benadryl, Claritin, Claritin-D, Dimetapp, Zyrtec, Sudafed Sinus and Allergy, Tylenol Allergy Sinus, Tylenol Cold & Flu

Potential reactions with alcohol: increased drowsiness, dizziness, liver damage from drugs containing acetaminophen. Another caveat: Many popular cold, flu and allergy remedies contain more than one ingredient that can react with alcohol. The NIAAA recommends reading the label on the medication bottle to find out exactly what ingredients a medicine contains, and asking your pharmacist if you have any questions about how alcohol might interact with a drug you are taking.

8. Cough Syrup

Such as: Robitussin Cough, Robitussin A-C

Potential reactions with alcohol: Drowsiness or dizziness. Remember that certain cough medicines contain up to 10 percent alcohol, according to the NIAAA, so imbibing in addition could greatly increase those side effects. “Patients who combine the two should never drive or operate heavy machinery afterward,” says Tiemeier. What’s more, if you’re taking a prescription cough syrup with codeine, it could result in double the trouble because the codeine (a narcotic) and the alcohol have many of the same effects on the brain.

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