Responsible service of alcohol: A server’s guide.

International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) & European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD). (2008). Responsible service of alcohol: A server’s guide. Washington, DC: International Center for Alcohol Policies.

This Server’s Guide provides information that blends useful skills, legal and social responsibilities and best practices in order to achieve a responsible service of alcohol within the hospitality and retail industries. Readers will come to know the law and their legal responsibilities, promote social responsibility to communities in which they operate and support best practices within their professions. – Brett Bivans, International Center for Alcohol Policies


Selling alcohol requires many skills and involves legal responsibilities – that is, the things you have to do as part of your job in order to comply with the laws. You also need to be aware of your social responsibilities – that is, the things you should do to run a good business and have a positive impact on your community


This guide was drafted by a team from Alcohol Focus Scotland’s ServeWise program under contract to the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) and the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD). ServeWise is the largest provider of social responsibility training for the licensed trade in Scotland. It works with a wide variety of stakeholders including licensing board members, solicitors, licensed trade organizations, police, alcohol action teams and training providers, such as local colleges of further education and private training organizations. The drafting team included Linda Bowie (ServeWise Manager), Joanne Worrall (ServeWise Training and Information Officer) and Mary Ellmers (National ServeWise Manager).

All members of staff within the hospitality and retail industries need to appreciate and understand their responsibilities relating to alcohol, know how alcohol affects the body and be aware of the benefits and risks associated with alcohol consumption. These guides are an initial step on the path to learning. They put tools in the hands of practitioners and policy-makers to help them understand their important role in ensuring the responsible service of alcohol.”

In serving alcohol, there are several different aspects to your job:

to be a “police officer” ensuring no one breaks any laws

to be a sales person knowledgeable about your products

to be a cleaner making sure premises are clean and tidy

to be a good host helping to create a friendly atmosphere

to be a safety officer thinking about the well being of customers and reducing any risks

The theme of this workbook is the “responsible service of alcohol”, but what does this mean?

Alcohol is mainly consumed responsibly but can cause harm if misused. It is therefore important to sell it in a way that minimizes any potential harm. This means thinking about who you are selling to, how much you are selling, and the well being of the customer. Many countries have adopted laws to help make things clearer. There is also a lot of established good practice that you can put in place.

Participate with other bartenders and servers at

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