Posted on: June 22, 2023

Can Bartenders Drink on the Job?

Can Bartenders Drink on the Job?

It may not come off as a huge surprise to be out on the town and see a bartender taste a drink before serving it or take a shot with a group of customers. But are bartenders allowed to drink while serving customers? Are there laws prohibiting or permitting such practices?

In this blog, we will address these frequently asked questions and shed light on the topic of bartenders drinking on the job. Let's explore the legalities, regional variations, and responsible practices that pertain to this intriguing aspect of bartending.


Drinking on the Job Laws

So, to the main question on your mind: Is it illegal for bartenders to drink on the job? The short answer is it depends. And it depends on quite a few things.

For one, states can create their own laws allowing or prohibiting employees from having a drink at work. However, local municipalities are allowed to implement their own laws prohibiting drinking while working. Not only that, but even if state and local laws permit having a drink at work, bars, restaurants, or any establishments that serve alcohol can also have their own rules employees must follow. So even if a state or city allows bartenders to drink on the job, the owner of that bar or restaurant can ban employees from drinking on the property altogether, not just while they’re working.

What States Can Bartenders Drink on the Job?

Some states have explicit allowances or exceptions for bartenders to consume alcohol while working. Here are a few examples:


In Louisiana, bartenders are allowed to drink while on the job. This practice is rooted in the state's historical and cultural ties to the hospitality industry.


Nevada is another state where bartenders can legally drink on the job. However, this is typically limited to establishments that hold a specific type of liquor license.


Bartenders in Wisconsin have traditionally been permitted to consume alcohol while working. However, it's worth noting that this practice may vary depending on local ordinances and workplace policies.

It's essential for bartenders and individuals in the industry to thoroughly research and understand the specific regulations in their state, as well as any local ordinances or workplace policies that may apply. These regulations can vary greatly, and it's crucial to comply with the laws and guidelines that govern the specific location where one works.

There are several states where drinking on the job is allowed. For example, state law permits employees to drink while on the clock in California and Colorado.

Which States Prohibit Drinking on the Job?

Drinking on the job is strictly prohibited in the majority of states in the United States. It's important to note that specific laws and regulations may vary within each state, so it's crucial to consult local ordinances and state statutes for comprehensive information. However, here are a few examples of states where drinking on the job is generally prohibited:


In California, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages by any person while on duty in a place where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises.

New York

In New York, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages by any employee in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption.


In Texas, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages by employees during work hours in establishments licensed to sell alcohol.


In Florida, the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages by employees during work hours in establishments with a license to sell alcoholic beverages.


In Illinois, the Liquor Control Act of 1934 prohibits employees of licensed establishments from consuming alcoholic beverages while on duty.


These are just a few examples, and it's important to remember that the laws and regulations can change, so it's crucial to consult the specific state statutes and local ordinances for accurate and up-to-date information. It's always recommended for employers and employees in the hospitality industry to comply with local regulations and workplace policies to prioritize responsible alcohol service practices.

The “Straw Test” Exception

While most states don’t allow drinking during work hours, there is one major exception that most places will allow. The “straw test" is a common practice in the bartending industry used to ensure the quality and taste of mixed drinks without the bartender having to consume the alcohol directly. When preparing a cocktail, bartenders may use a straw to take a small sip or taste of the drink by sucking a small amount of liquid into their mouths. By doing so, they can assess the flavor, balance, and quality of the cocktail before serving it to the customer.

The purpose of the straw test is to allow bartenders to make any necessary adjustments to the drink, such as adding more ingredients or adjusting the proportions, to ensure it meets the desired flavor profile. It also serves as a quality control measure, enabling bartenders to detect any issues or inconsistencies in the drink before it reaches the customer.

It's important to note that the straw test is typically done to taste the drink for quality purposes and not for personal consumption. Bartenders are expected to handle alcohol responsibly and not consume it in a manner that impairs their judgment or performance on the job. The focus is on assessing the drink's taste and ensuring customer satisfaction while maintaining professionalism and adherence to workplace policies and local regulations.

Why Do Some Establishments Prohibit Employees From Drinking?

Employers may have various reasons for not allowing employees, including bartenders, to drink on the job. Some common reasons include liability and safety concerns.

Allowing employees to consume alcohol while working can increase the risk of accidents, overconsumption to the point of intoxication, impaired judgment, and potential legal issues if a customer is overserved or an incident occurs. Employers may want to mitigate these risks by maintaining a strict policy against drinking on the job.

Alcohol consumption can also impair coordination, cognitive abilities, and reaction times. In environments where physical labor or machinery operation is involved, allowing employees to drink can jeopardize workplace safety, increasing the risk of accidents, injuries, and damage to property.

If you’re thinking of becoming a bartender and need to get TIPS certified, sign up for one of our alcohol safety training courses today! TIPS courses aim to promote responsible alcohol service and help reduce risk to create a safer, more responsible environment. Enroll today!