Bar Consumer Survey – Responsible service?

To learn more about bar-patron drinking behaviors and drink-service practices, researchers observed and tested the blood-alcohol-content of over one-thousand patrons, as well as tracking the number of drinks servers provided patrons over time [i]. Bars and restaurants were invited and paid to participate in the study.

Even though bars and restaurants knowingly participated in the study, suggesting that perhaps they would amend their service practices to minimize negative results, two key business-practice findings include:

1. One-third of the alcohol-outlets over-poured drinks.

2. In under fifty minutes, servers provided a beer, shot of vodka, and two Long Island Ice Teas (each equal to three 80%-proof shots) – the equivalent of eight drinks… over 90% of the time.

Researcher stated “At the bar level, it is important to note that over-service to our pseudo-patrons was almost a constant.”

Many of these same bar and restaurant owners, bartenders, and servers attended voluntary Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training. Yet, they consistently over-pour and over-serve their patrons.

When patrons try to make good decisions about the number of drinks they can safely consume when considering driving home for instance, when servers over-pour the amount of alcohol in their drinks, patrons believing they are consuming two drinks may in fact be consuming much more, resulting in another too-drunk driver on our roads.

There is a significant disconnect between what RBS practices the industry promotes to policymakers, and their actual business practices. The fact is, in most every case, servers grossly over-served their patrons with impunity. That is, in fiscal year 2013-2014 the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) with over 87,000 permanent outlet licenses, issued only ten (10) citations for over-service [ii].

View the study here and the ABC annual report below:


i. Download complete document

ii. Download Source: 2013-2014 ABC Annual Report, page 6