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5 Tips For Kindly Refusing To Serve Or Sell Alcohol

March 22, 2024
toasting craft beers

My passion for the hospitality industry began with humble jobs washing dishes and bussing tables near my home in Texas. My early serving jobs, like the one at Monument Cafe (featured on Food Network), fueled my commitment to this amazing business. Along the way, I became a general manager, earned my higher education, and launched TABC On The Fly and Certified On The Fly. Check out my bio for more information. – Dustin Meyers

Years of experience confirmed what those early jobs taught me: refusing alcohol service is a critical part of seller-server responsibility. Let’s discuss how to do it right.


Respectful, Responsible Alcohol Service

Every seller-server knows that awkward moment when you must kindly but firmly refuse another drink. Here’s how to handle it with respect:


Be Firm, Yet Friendly

Avoid hesitation or uncertainty that might invite argument.


Communicate at Their Level

Meet the customer’s eye level when explaining that it seems like they’ve had enough for tonight. Offer to get them water or a delicious food item instead.


Enlist a Sober Companion

If the guest is with friends, discreetly explain your concerns and ask the friend for help in ending the patron’s drinking for the night.


Bring the Check Immediately

Sometimes a subtle approach works best. Bringing the check without the guest asking sends a clear message that their drinking time is drawing to a close. Most patrons will get the hint and accept it gracefully.


Cite Illinois Liquor Law

If a guest questions your decision, calmly but firmly remind them that it’s your job to follow Illinois law. You could lose your job and the establishment could lose its license if you were to serve someone who is visibly intoxicated. Dram shop laws in Illinois hold establishments legally liable for injuries caused by intoxicated patrons.


What Reactions to Expect When Refusing to Serve Alcohol

Reactions from customers when refusing alcohol service will vary. Some people are understanding, even apologetic. Others may become argumentative. When it becomes difficult, remember:


You Are in Charge

You’re the professional. Act confidently, knowing that you’re doing the right thing by refusing alcohol service.


Don’t Feel Awkward

Your decision keeps both the patron and the establishment safe.


Overserving Alcohol is Bad for Business

Refusing alcohol service to someone who’s had too much isn’t just about liability. It’s about preserving a safe and positive experience for everyone else in your establishment.

Overserving alcohol can ruin the atmosphere. Nobody enjoys being around someone who is out of control. It can lead to legal trouble. Violating Illinois’s liquor laws is serious business.

Finaly, it may negatively impact your well-being. Dealing with confrontations can be stressful. Prioritize your mental health and everyone’s safety.


Prepare for Responsible Alcohol Service

As a seller-server, protecting yourself and your establishment means being proactive about refusing alcohol service. You can avoid many uncomfortable situations with proper preparation and support, and that starts with getting certified.

Don’t hesitate to speak to a manager if a situation gets heated. And remember, Illinois law is on your side. Refusing to serve alcohol is both your right and your responsibility. BASSET certification makes it easier.

BASSET On The Fly is here to help you nail your role in serving alcohol responsibly. Enroll today, learn the laws — and boost your hiring potential!

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