Liquor has been around for thousands of years and, throughout time, has played an important role in religion, nutrition and even medical applications. Today people buy liquor primarily to enhance the enjoyment of life because of its ability to facilitate relaxation, reduce social anxiety and release inhibitions.
Liquor also has a negative side. Millions of Americans reportedly abuse it, thereby putting their health and welfare--as well as that of others--at risk. Binge drinking, underage drinking, driving under the influence and drinking liquor while pregnant are all examples of liquor abuse.
Whether you plan to train your employees on things they need to know about selling and serving distilled spirits, or you're looking for liquor education and training to brush up on your own knowledge, it's important to keep these things in mind:
1. Liquor is different from other types of alcohol and has its own set of rules, serving suggestions and terminology.
2. Today's liquor producers offer a large variety of liquor types and flavors--and show no signs of letting up on their ongoing quest to please every pallet.
3. All liquor laws are not created equal. Different states have different policies on buying, selling and serving liquor.
Understand what liquor is and how it differs from other alcoholAlthough many people use the words "liquor" and "alcohol" interchangeably, liquor is actually one of three types of alcoholic drinks; beer and wine are the other two. Ounce for ounce, liquor is always stronger than beer or wine--sometimes as much as 10 or 12 times more potent. Hard liquor drinks are typically blended with a "mixer" such as fruit juice, tonic water or soda, although some people drink it straight up or simply poured over ice.
Become familiar with the ever-increasing variety and selection of liquors on the marketVariations such as spiced rums, flavored vodkas and tequilas, lime-infused gins and an array of new liqueurs all have joined--and continue to join--their "traditional" counterparts on the liquor market. As a seller or server of liquor, it's important to keep pace with current tastes, trends and liquor brands.
Learn your state's specific liquor lawsAll 50 states have a legal drinking age of 21 but, from there, laws vary widely from state to state. Some don't allow anyone under the age of 21 into liquor stores or bars; few have specific laws about minors consuming alcohol in private settings. Laws vary for those selling and serving liquor, as well.
Alcohol Problems and Solutions has a link to each state's particular laws as well as a wealth of other educational liquor information. A list of links to federal regulations and public laws relating to the entire distilled spirits industry is available at The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
- Because rules and regulations vary from state to state, it's a good idea to check with your state's Alcohol Control Board (ABC) to learn everything you need to know about buying, selling and serving liquor in your area. Some states offer online training courses.
- You don't need to attend bartending school in order to serve drinks; however, many states require that you pass an Alcohol Server Training course designed to help prevent underage drinking, drunk driving and over-consumption.