Setting A Drink Limit For Your Guests: 8 Cocktail Hour Tips

How-To Guides

People celebrating cocktail hour

It's cocktail hour and your guests are starting to loosen up. You don't want things to get too crazy, so you set a drink limit. But how do you go about doing that? What's the best way to keep everyone happy and safe?

Many people make the mistake of underestimating how much alcohol their guests will consume, and before they know it, the party has gotten out of hand. This blog post will give you eight tips on how to set a drink limit at your bar, so everyone has a great time without getting too intoxicated!

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1. Arrange Transportation

Rideshare driver checking his Uber app

One of the most critical aspects of cocktail hour is how your guests leave. You should ensure everybody has a safe way to get home or reach the next place they need to be. They could have a friend pick them up, call a cab, or order a car from a rideshare service. Even one drink of alcohol can impair a person’s driving and increase the risk of an accident.

Rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, have had a positive impact by reducing fatalities from drunk driving. Since Uber launched its rideshare service in 2014, cities across the country have seen a decrease in DUI arrests, impaired driving arrests, and motor vehicle accidents.

2. Train Your Bartenders

Bartender serving a glass of Bloody Mary

If you need staff working with you, hiring trained and experienced bartenders is best. They’ll know how to handle sticky situations and ensure everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. Volunteers with no bartending experience may feel overwhelmed by the circumstances, especially the possibility of dealing with intoxicated people.

Responsibly serving alcohol is critical, and it’s one that experienced bartenders can handle better than anyone. Find people you’ve worked with and seen in action to ensure you’ve covered your bases no matter the situation. If the bartender is a beginner, they may want to sit out.

3. Designate a Time

Setting parameters is an essential part of your cocktail hour. One of the rules you can implement is a rigid time frame you’ll be serving alcohol.

If the cocktail party is between 6 pm and 11 pm, you can set the last call at 10 pm. Doing this gives your staff time to clean up, and guests have at least an hour without alcohol before they leave.

4. Protect the Pool

Pool safety net

If there’s a pool at your event, it could be dangerous for people who have consumed alcohol. Intoxicated individuals can become disoriented underwater and have difficulty determining which way is up, increasing the chances of drowning if they swim down.

To boost security at your cocktail party, consider getting a pool safety fence if there is a swimming pool on the premises. The primary benefit will help prevent people from falling into the pool, especially those who have been drinking. These fences may be mandatory in your city and reduce your insurance premiums.

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5. Serve Food

People drinking beer while eating finger foods

Food is an integral part of cocktail hour. Your guests will appreciate having food present to pair with alcoholic beverages. Serve red wine or bourbon with steak, white wine with fish, and oysters with martinis. The possibilities for great alcohol and food pairings are endless. However, the main advantage of food is it helps keep your guests safe.

The human body absorbs alcohol slower when food is ingested before consuming alcohol. Your body only needs about 10 minutes to absorb alcohol in the bloodstream, so eating after drinking will not be as beneficial as eating beforehand.

Before attending happy hour, you might not know where your guests came from. The last time they ate something may have been hours ago, so serving food before or while serving drinks is vital.

6. Check Your License

Bar shelves fully stocked with liquors and spirits

Do you have a liquor license? If you’re a bartender or bar owner, the answer should be yes. Double-check to make sure this license is up to date. You may open your client to liability issues if your document is expired.

If you have yet to get a liquor license, there’s a chance your city, county, or state government can give you a one-time liquor license. However, it’s best to have the permit for liability reasons.

7. Get Liability Insurance

Stuff can go wrong or hit the fan, as the kids say these days. One way to protect yourself is having liquor liability insurance. This insurance helps protect any establishment, such as a bar, that serves alcohol. 

The insurance company helps cover claims of personal injury, property damage, or other incidents that may happen after you serve alcohol. If you have liquor liability insurance, you can get out of paying legal costs, a client’s medical bills, and repair costs for property damage. 

8. Hire Security

Security guard  observing people at a cocktail hour

Keeping track of everybody and ensuring your guests are safe is difficult to do by yourself, so hire security to take some of the pressure off you. A security team will monitor any disturbances on and off the location. If your guests see a security unit, they’ll feel safer and more inclined to follow your rules, such as a drink limit.

The Best Cocktail Hour is a Safe One

Party hard or go home, right? While that may be the motto for some, it definitely doesn’t apply when you’re in charge of the bar business. If you want your cocktail hour to be successful, you must ensure that your guests are not over-indulging. The best way to do this is by setting a drink limit.

So, now that you know all the ins and outs of hosting a cocktail party, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice! We wish you all the best of luck as you plan your next event - remember to have fun with it and enjoy spending time with your guests. And most importantly, drink responsibly!

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