Liquor Service Standards

  • Underage Alcohol Consumption

Security & Identification

by Elizabeth Trendowski

From an outsider’s perspective, the bar and hospitality industry often looks glamorous. So much money to be made, and so much fun to be had. Yet, when you look beyond the smiles and bright lights, the hospitality industry is a business like any other. One big difference is that bars and nightclubs sell alcohol, which makes them highly sensitive to security and age requirements.

The hospitality industry includes:

  • Neighborhood Bars
  • Sports Bars
  • Chain Restaurants
  • Nightclubs
  • Casinos

The requirements for bar and nightclub security are different than they were even 10 years ago. The laws are different, and modern technology has made available fake IDs that are of far better quality than in the past. Some internet IDs can successfully pass through a scanning machine, and websites like underground-review.com provide reviews of websites that sell fake IDs.

Serving or selling alcohol to a minor can have disastrous implications for a bar owner or licensee, but what can be expected from security personnel? Please don’t call them bouncers anymore; the job has grown-up and the bouncer is no longer wanted. A trained and certified security staff has become the industry standard. Training is essential to the job and bar management should incorporate a certified training program that covers safe alcohol service as well as non-violent intervention and industry-specific security issues.

This message is not about teaching the proper way to check IDs; it is a lesson about the seriousness of the security person’s role in a bar. Bar owners can no longer employ a brother-in-law to watch the door as a favor.

In my casework involving alcohol service to minors, the minors point their finger at the bar 100% of the time. Without fail, they say one of two things:

  1. “The bar never checked my ID.”
  2. “The bar didn’t check my ID properly.”

In some instances, the bar staff has done everything they can reasonably be expected to do. In other cases, the bar has fallen short of meeting industry standards. Proper training is the best strategy for bar management to reduce their risk exposure. With the continuous advancements in technology, counterfeit IDs will continue to be a major issue, but technology will also make it easier and more affordable to find appropriate training programs for bar staff.

It sure is a glamorous business, isn’t it?


About Liz Trendowski

Elizabeth Trendowski-Dram Shop-Liquor Liability Expert
Elizabeth Trendowski is a Dram Shop & Liquor Liability expert. Her career has included over 25 years in the liquor and hospitality industry. She was the Founder and President of SMART Programs, a national certification program for the responsible service of alcohol, and one of only three independent TIPS Master Trainers in the United States. She was the Executive Director of the Connecticut Licensed Beverage Association and served on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.