Serving alcohol is a big responsibility, both in the eyes of the law and in terms of safety. Because of this, if you’re going to be bartending, or serving alcohol in any capacity, the proper training and certifications are not just advisable but most likely mandatory. While the specifics vary from state to state, here are some of the general rules to be aware of as a bartender or server.
The act of serving alcohol is hedged around rules to keep people safe, so many municipalities require bartenders, servers, or anyone else who physically handles/serves alcoholic drinks to have certification in responsible alcohol serving. Furthermore, most places require that training be completed and certification be in hand within 30-60 days of starting.
The course can go by many names depending on the state. For instance, those in California call it Responsible Beverage Server Training while Texas folks call them Texas Alcohol Bureau Control Classes. Whatever the name, they are all about the same thing: making sure everyone complies with the law and that they’re safe while doing so. As for specifics, here are the topics covered:
Current state and local laws
When and how to check IDs, including how to spot the fakes
Legal consequences of serving someone who is under age
Effects of alcohol and signs of impairment
Intervention methods and techniques
Most of the time, these classes have to be in person and you will want to check with your local government to make sure the town will accept that particular class’s certificate especially if you’re moving elsewhere.
Where can you find such training programs? Sometimes the local police or state alcohol boards provide classes as well as the certificate, but you can get it just as easily from certifying bodies such as ServSafe and Server Certification Corp. These certificates can last a year or two, depending on the issuing body and municipality.
Fortunately for bartenders and others serving alcohol, the legal requirements end there. There isn’t any place that requires a bartender to take classes or be certified in drink-making, just to be trained in safety, which is always the #1 priority.