Serving Alcohol at your next event? Here’s all you need to know

January 7, 2019Janey DaviesEvent Guides

It can be a challenge when serving alcohol at events. There are all kinds of pitfalls event managers need to be aware of.

From over-excited guests to under-age drinkers. But many people feel that an event benefits from serving alcohol. And if you are holding an awards event or promoting a brand a glass of bubbly is the least you can offer.

At Yahire we have found that by sticking to the following guidelines, you are not only organised and in charge, but ready if things do go wrong.

Here are our recommendations for serving alcohol at events

Check if you need an alcohol license

So you’ve chosen the perfect venue, you’ve hired the furniture and sent out the invitations. But what many people forget to do is make sure the venue is licensed to serve alcohol. This is a relatively simple thing to check. But where do you stand if you want to serve it in a venue that does not usually serve alcohol? For concise advice, you should visit the government guidance on licensing here. But in brief:

  • You may sell alcohol at an event but you need a license from the council.
  • You can serve and sell alcohol as refreshments at a charity event.
  • However, you must relate the event to your charity’s aims.
  • The alcohol can only be served when the charity event is happening.
  • You can only serve alcohol to event attendees.
  • It is legal to sell alcohol to raise funds for your charity, i.e. a beer tent , but you may have to pay tax on any profits.

Make a plan for serving alcohol and establish who is in charge

You’ll need to know the type of event, whether children will be attending, the age group of your guests and what numbers to expect. When you have an idea of the guests, now decide how many bars you want to set up to accommodate them. What types of drinks will you serve? Is it a wine or beer kind of event? Will there be champagne toasts and if so, at what time? Or will it be a mixture?

And how will people pay for their drinks? Is it cash or ticketed? Will there be a limited number of free drinks available? Finally, how will you prevent guests from becoming intoxicated? We have found that it is better to hire trained bar staff and security who have experience in dealing with such matters. It is also a good idea to have at least one person from your team designated in case there are guests that have had a little too much to drink.

Get your safety plan in place

When guests are a tad merry it can be harder to keep them safe. And at all events, this is your main priority. Make sure your staff know all the exit routes in case of fire. If you have hired security, ask them to wear their uniforms. It creates an air of confidence and helps to diffuse potentially volatile situations. It is a good idea to ask for help from a voluntary medical group like the Red Cross. Or at the very least, have your first-aider liaise with security and the bar staff ahead of the event.

Employ a strict ID system for underage guests

If your event includes children, teenagers and young adults, it can be very difficult to keep track of who can legally consume alcohol, and who cannot. Ask to see ID at the door. This way you will make sure no drinks are served to anyone who is underage. Then use a handstamp with a different colour, say green for legal and red for underage. Wristbands work too but you’ll always get those that will swap with an older friend.

Offer food

One sure way to soak up the alcohol is to serve food alongside it. Experts do not recommend solely serving alcohol at events. In fact, some event managers will even decline to take on an event where the client wants to serve alcohol but not food.

“We highly advise against events that serve alcohol but not food,” says Laura Fehrle, General Manager at Garces Events in Philadelphia.

Keep the ratio of alcohol and food balanced. For instance, a couple of bowls of nibbles is probably not enough.

Get people home safely

Finally, our last recommendation is to offer free or discounted rides home. Then there will be no risk of drinking and driving to your guests. You can get in touch with local taxi firms and arrange a minibus to pick up and deliver guests home. Or find out if online car services such as Uber can offer a discount.

Serving alcohol doesn’t have to be troublesome. With some forward thinking and planning, you can enjoy an amazing event.