TIPS FOR SERVING ALCOHOL DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Hosting at home
By JE’ WESLEY DAY
It’s ordinary for people to spend the holidays with family and friends, and alcohol is usually incorporated into the festivities. This holiday spirit can cause people to become excited and lead them to drink too much alcohol. Consequently, you should be cautious about serving alcohol in your home to guests, which may include work colleagues, unless you follow some easy guidelines.
SMALL TALK THAT PAYS BIG
Take time to have quality, small discussions with guests. This will keep you from becoming an intoxicated host. Also, it will assist you in identifying how much liquor your guests may have consumed.
It is always recommended to have a responsible bartender who can help monitor guests’ consumption levels. If your bartender determines someone is too intoxicated, they should be advised to bring it to your attention immediately. It is much better to pay on the front-end with a hired bartender rather than paying on the backend with a liability suit.
YOU CAN’T PARTY AT YOUR PARTY
I’m not suggesting you can’t have fun, but as a host, you must remain vigilant and be ahead of any issue before it occurs. You can often see things brewing by watching for physical and behavioral changes. Additionally, you are probably the likeliest person to have a pulse on each individual’s alcohol consumption.
Example behavior to watch for includes:
- Being overly friendly, unfriendly, depressed or quiet
- Using foul language or becoming loud
- Drinking faster or switching to larger or stronger drinks
- Talking or moving slowly
- Staggering, stumbling or bumping into objects
Watch the count. Your bartender should have an idea of how many drinks he or she has given each guest. Most drinks contain approximately the same amount of liquor:
1 drink =
5 ounces of wine
12 ounces of beer
1½ ounces of 80-proof liquor
1 ounce of 100-proof liquor
PROVIDE SIGNATURE DRINKS
This technique also saves money by not offering a full bar. Signature drinks are easier to manage and can prevent intoxication. The amount of liquor your guests may consume is controlled. Signature drinks should be made according to the recipes (see Sangria variations).
Two signature drinks should be offered – one with a sweeter taste and one that’s a little stronger. Color is important as well when it comes to creating signature drinks.
Oftentimes, hiring a bartender is a better option. Allowing guests to pour their own libations leads to over-pouring, which is costly for you and makes it harder to track consumption. No one likes to be monitored as they consume, but you must also realize that no one likes to be sued either. So, this should be done very discreetly.
What’s a party without food? This alone will prevent intoxication. Food helps slow alcohol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. The best food items for this are those high in fat and/ or protein. These items are not easily digested, which helps slow the movement of alcohol.
KEEP GUESTS HYDRATED
Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration, making guests feel thirsty, and they may potentially consume more alcohol than normal. You can help by offering water with their drinks and refilling water glasses often. This will help keep your guests hydrated and reduce alcohol consumption.
HOLIDAY SANGRIA (Stronger)
¼ cup honey or agave nectar
4 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves, whole
2 cups apple cider
1 bottle cabernet sauvignon
½ cup Grand Marnier
½ cup vodka
1 Combine wine, honey, cider, Grand Marnier, sliced fruit, cloves and cinnamon sticks to a sauce pan, and heat to medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low heat and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.
2 Strain and serve, garnished with more fruit and cinnamon sticks, if desired.
STRAWBERRY SANGRIA (Sweeter)
2 ½ cups lemon-lime soda
¼ cup sugar or Stevia
1 bottle rosé wine
1 cup strawberry vodka
1 In a large pitcher, combine wine, vodka and ½ of the strawberries. Taste for sweetness and add sweetener if necessary, then stir.
2 Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6.
3 Just before serving, add lemonlime soda, the rest of the strawberries and gently stir.
4 Serve over ice with strawberry garnish.