Catering is a wonderful amenity to share among friends at any celebration. There is much to think about when planning a large group catering event, especially with the addition of alcohol services. Alcohol is a great tool at social and corporate get-togethers and events. It reduces shyness and allows people to loosen up and socialize more. It helps people make connections with others while dropping their guard. It is a great perk to have at any social gathering. However, there are many safety precautions that are useful to know before planning a large group catering event with alcohol services.
Professional Alcohol Service
Alcohol is the center piece, so to say, in most catered soirees. Without the alcohol, it is just not a party. To guests, alcohol service looks simple and easy, but the truth is, responsibility is a huge key item in the process of serving alcohol at a public or private event. See, there are by-law and liability issues that most are unaware of, or neglect to consider prior to planning a catering event with liquor service. Catering companies are tied by very strict guidelines, so in actuality, there is a lot of work and planning for just this one element of your party.
Guest safety is the most important responsibility the host and catering company have. There are several ways a host or catering company can get in trouble with alcohol at their event when it comes to the safety of the guests. Here are some examples:
Along with guest safety, comes safety and protection for minors. There are laws pertaining to the drinking age, different state by state, but here in Indiana, the legal consumption age is 21 years old. It is important to make sure the staff serving the alcohol understands minors will be attending the event, and to I.D. anyone who appears under the age of 35. If a minor is served alcohol, not only will the host be given a citation to appear in court and face fees, fines, and possible jail time, but the catering company will be cited as well, which can result in a loss of their liquor license and fines. It is important to be aware of the children and minors at any event, and to protect them from harm.
There are different strategies that have been implemented in the past that make it easier to identify minors versus legal drinkers at a large event. For example, a designated person or persons can ask to see photo I.D. of everyone at the door before allowing entry onto the premises. Everyone of age will get a plastic snap-lock wrist band, marking them as legal drinkers. For minors, a large black X on both hands in permanent marker and no wrist band. This is a quick method for bartenders and caterers to identify who can drink alcohol and who can’t, without the hassle of asking everyone to pull out their wallets with their photo ID every time they approach the bar. There are flaws in the strategy to be aware of as well. Teenagers are tricky, and they can sometimes find a way to rub the black X’s off their hands or tape a used wrist band back together, to appear legal. This is a precaution to warn the catering company about, as well as the guests of children, before the party begins.
Over consumption of alcohol is no stranger to anyone who has attended college, a football game, or a night club. We have all seen the results of over drinking, and most of the time, it is not pretty. One way for caterers to protect themselves, as well as the host or client, is to hire a “Serving It Right” staff. This is basically any staff that has had formal training in responsible alcohol service. By doing this, a huge burden is released from the hosts’ shoulders, knowing that everyone on staff is on the same page and understands how to handle alcohol related serving situations. They can notify the host if anyone has reached their limit and needs to be “cut off” from alcohol service. The catering company and its servers are there to protect both the host and their guests from over consumption and possibly hurting themselves or others. They are always the “sober” ones at events, and their judgment is always unimpaired.
If a guest has become intoxicated as a result of over serving at a catered event and then gets injured or injures someone else at an event or after leaving the event, the caterers, catering company, bartenders, and even the host will all share the liability if the accident results in a lawsuit. This has happened in the past, but is nothing to be concerned about if all necessary precautions and arrangements are made prior to the party. As long as everyone involved in putting together the event understands the responsibility they hold when serving alcohol at an event, the party should run smoothly every time.
Food Born Illness
This blog is about alcohol service at large catering events, so we will skip the actual “food” part, and concentrate on illnesses possibly contracted through improper bar preparation and service. There are many ways illnesses can be spread through the bar portion of any catered event. It is important for the bartender and catering company to check all expiration dates on juices and mixers, as well as check for any possible cross contamination that may have occurred somewhere along the way. These kinds of contaminants can be very harmful to people. Expired juices and contaminated blends can make a person very sick. It is the hosts’ responsibility to ask the caterers to double check for these potential dangers. They especially do not want a child drinking one of the expired juices, and have to make a hospital visit to treat food poisoning.
Catering companies can provide fabulous alcohol services for events and parties, but providing these services is a careful and meticulous process when it comes to serving alcohol. Be sure to have all the proper knowledge before serving that first glass of wine at any event.