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Getting Flagged at a Bar

I sat by myself at the bar in a restarant reading a book and playing scrabble on my iphone. I had three martini's in about an hour and a half. I ordered my fourth and the bartender said "haven't you had enough?" Somewhat embrassed I then asked for a Coor's light. She said "that really isn't much better." So I paid and left.

Now keep in mind, I was alone and had not moved (except for the bathroom) and did not utter a single word to anyone the enitre time I was there. So my behavior was not the issue. The bartender just thought that three was enough. They do not a drink limit policy.

BTW, my wife was picking me up which of course the bartender did not know.

Should she have minded her own business?

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  1. Yes...and gotten a nice tip too, I would guess. How does that go..."cutting off your nose to..."

    1. Absolutely she should have! I'm kind of taken aback by reading this. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've had more than 3 drinks in a bar (I live in the bar district, so I'm not driving like this) and nobody has said a word to me. You were far more polite than I would have been. I think my answer would have been "No I have not, so if you will kindly fix me another...".
      Anyone's amount of alcohol consumption at a bar is their business alone if they are not acting sloppy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: alliegator

        It's really not, though. The bartender is completely liable for overserving patrons. You could've asked for another drink, but the bartender has the right to shut anyone off, with the blessing of the establishment's owners.

        This is coming from someone who has worked in bars and restaurants for 15 years and taken many alcohol service classes. If a bartender doesn't want to serve a customer anymore, for any reason, it's basically tough shit.

        1. re: invinotheresverde

          Painful, but true.

          In France I have been quizzed . when I have asked a bottle of wine to go with my meal .

          Us English..

          The Kitchen staff looked on with amusement, until my Anglo Saxon comments speared them.

           
      2. For better or for worse, a bar can be held liable for your actions as a result of overservice. Maybe the bar was recently sued and is overcompensating as a result.

        34 Replies
        1. re: lavaca

          After 3 drinks in an hour and a half, though? What bars have you ever been to that even think of cutting someone off at that point?

          A bar can't afford to be so worried about being sued that they won't serve more than 3 drinks to a well-behaved individual. That is how they make their money in the first place.

          I'm wondering if the bartender mistook the OP for someone she's had problems with before, or for some other reason just didn't like him. Or maybe he looked like he was dozing off or something.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            Three martinis in the day and age of fishbowl-sized glasses could easily be 12 shots of hard booze in an hour and a half, or more. It's not like it was just three beers.

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              Fair enough, though ~6 shots for 3 martinis would be more standard.

              Anyway, I've never seen a bartender cut off a patron who is calm and not visibly (or audibly) drunk - I'm assuming the OP was not. In absence of more information, I'm giving benefit of the doubt to the OP.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                Martini glasses range in size from 4 to 12 oz. Going with the low end of 4 - hell, let's say it's only filled 3/4 of the way - you're still looking at 9 shots in 1 1/2 hours. Or something equal to 5 beers and 4 shots of... Gin? Vodka? I'm a big guy (250 lbs) and am not a lightweight drinker but, 3 martinis in 1 1/2 hours? I'm pretty buzzed and probably legally drunk. I don't think the bartender, when taking the witness stand, will get far with the defense that the "intoxicated" patron promised he would not be driving.
                I remember quite vividly, 30 years ago tending bar in NY. Served several drinks to a woman who appeared to be handling it quite well (she "did not utter a single word to anyone the enitre time "she" was there. So "her" behavior was not the issue". She left for the bathroom. Next I heard of her was from the manager asking me what I knew about the woman on the bathroom floor with no pants on who had "soiled" herself and was calling my name. After 2 martinis, drink a soda or water before having the third. After the third, stop drinking for a while altogether. The bartender was doing her job and doing it well
                .

                1. re: bobbert

                  A shot is 1.5 ounces. By your reckoning and mine, the OP conservatively had 9 ounces. Or 6 shots.

                  I suspect some of you guys are intentionally being a little obtuse. I haven't drank in every corner of this country, but I have been around, and I have yet to find a bar scene where everyone goes home clear headed and sober, where no one is served to excess, where everyone blows below 0.8 on the breathalyzer before walking out the door. Must be a nice, clean little scene you guys where you guys drink.

                  Likewise, while I know that bartenders CAN legally be held responsible for serving someone to excess, I know quite a few bartenders and none have EVER been cited, much less prosecuted (unless the person served was also a minor). It doesn't happen as often as you'd have others believe.

                  Finally, I haven't attacked the bartender - it is her prerogative to cut someone off. I just said it was odd, given what the OP has told us. Maybe it makes more sense in your clean, sober, responsible bar scene. Even the bar scene I'm used to (where patrons sometimes drink to excess and bars make money) has a line beyond which they'll cut you off, hazy though that line may be. By the OP's description, he hadn't crossed that line.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    If the OP had been part of a group having drinks and dinner the bartender would have had no idea who much each person is drinking and that's often true when a bar is crowded and busy. But when one person is sitting at the bar ordering stiff drinks by themselves without ever speaking to anyone, well that might be noticeable. If that bartender got puled into court--or even got pulled in by the owner of the place--to explain why she made him that 4th martini, she'd be hard pressed to plead ignorance of how much he drank. Just a thought.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      Just for giggles, I just poured 2 shots into a small martini glass - I'd probably send itt back so, even though a shot might be 1 1/2 oz, I'll stick with about 9 shots in an hour and a half as conservative. I have been served hundreds of times in my life where legally I shouldn"t have been served and I served thousands in night clubs that I should not have (30 years ago) but, these days we live in are different. Thousands and thousands are killed each year in DUI accidents. If they got drunk in a bar, there will be a lawsuit. Period.
                      Only time in my life that I was cut off? A hotel restaurant after several martinis (yeah, we were pretty trashed). Telling the server that we were only driving an elevator didn't help. Maybe the bartender could have been more tactful and she might not have noticed if it was a crowded party night but, in the end, she and the bar are responsible and when one's livelyhood might be at stake, you play it safe.

                      1. re: bobbert

                        You're still miscalculating. Vermouth is 18% alcohol, not 40%. Then you have water melted from the ice (strained out of the drink before serving). Maybe a little bit of olive brine. Oh, and the olive itself - all of that adds volume. A small, 4 ounce martini glass filled pretty much to the very top will have 2 shots. So I'll stick with 6 shots.

                        "these days we live in are different. Thousands and thousands are killed each year in DUI accidents."
                        __________
                        This was always the case. Am I supposed to believe that back in the good ol days people really knew how to keep a car in their own lane with 15 drinks in their bloodstream?

                        "If they got drunk in a bar, there will be a lawsuit. Period."
                        _______
                        No. Not so. Again you overstate your case. Go talk to some bartenders and see how many of them have been named in a lawsuit. It happens rarely at most. And I'm talking about bartenders who think nothing much of serving an average sized male 6-12 drinks or more (or 3+ martinis).

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          I stand corrected yet again. The "splash" of vermouth and the water that melted off the ice cubes in 15 seconds really does turn a 4 (6, 8, 10?) Oz martini into a glass of Hawaiin Punch. You miss the point. Three average size martinis in 90 minutes is a good amount of alcohol and, although many, if not most, bartenders would serve the 4th, cutting someone off is probably not unreasonable.
                          As for lawsuits, maybe you should limit the questioning of whether or not they've been named in a lawsuit to those bartenders who had customers who then went out and killed themself or someone else. I'm willing to bet that percentage would be pretty high. Of course, such bartenders would be difficult to find as they are most likely not working in the business any more. Just google something about lawsuits and oui's and see how really rare they are.

                          1. re: bobbert

                            "The "splash" of vermouth and the water that melted off the ice cubes in 15 seconds really does turn a 4 (6, 8, 10?) Oz martini into a glass of Hawaiin Punch."
                            ________
                            Look, here are two perfectly good reasons a 4 ounce martini doesn't have 3 shots:
                            A) Filled two the brim, a 4 oz martini with 2 shots in it would be 3/4 hard liquor. That last 1/4 would be reserved for space taken by water, olive brine, the olive[s] themselves which are often fairly large. 1 ounce. We're still talkin a respectably stiff martini. Not Hawaiian punch.
                            B) Even if a martini was 100% unadulterated hard liquor, 3 shots is 4.5 ounces.

                            You stand corrected again because you keep on correcting me incorrectly. At this point, I should probably just let it go - it's really not that important. But dude- it's frustrating.

                            As for the rest:
                            Bobbert: "You miss the point.... although many, if not most, bartenders would serve the 4th, cutting someone off is probably not unreasonable."

                            Me, in a post right above you: "I haven't attacked the bartender - it is her prerogative to cut someone off. I just said it was odd, given what the OP has told us."

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              We appear to suffer from the same "unable to let it go" illness. I promise to after this post. I don’t think we’re far off on the meat of this – we’ve gotten stuck on semantics. Even if we're talking 2 shots per martini (and we don't know if they're being served in a 4 or an 8? oz glass), we're still averaging 4 shots of stiff alcohol per hour so, by the most conservative estimate, I "think" we could agree that we're talking about a pretty good amount of booze. That's all I've been trying to say with the caveat that it could have been even more alcohol.

                              As far as numbers of lawsuits are concerned, I'll stick with my vague answer of "a lot". It's interesting that with any Google search regarding DUI's and deaths, almost every ad that pops up is from a law firm soliciting business. I don't believe it's coincidence. Certainly the fear of a lawsuit has influenced the way bars act. Can you give me that one?

                              For those posters who say that the whole bar scene would change if establishments adopted these type of policies, my response is that the bar scene has changed a great deal already. I worked in bars through college and for a couple of years after (1977-1982) - some were dives with a couple of nice places thrown in. I now go out a couple of times a month with friends and I don't restrict myself to "old people" places (no, I'm not bumping and grinding on the dance floor but it's not unusual to tip a pint with people half my age). Most of these places are tame in comparison to what they might have been 30 years ago. Some can still get pretty wild, but generally speaking, the times have already changed. It's definitely not only the threat of lawsuits - education (yes, it works) and fear of getting busted play a huge role. My kids and their friends switch off as designated driver (the phrase didn’t exist 30 years ago) and there are taxi’s lined up in the bar district each night.

                              Back to the OP. I think the biggest, most legit part is the lack of tactfulness on the part of the bartender. I've cut off hundreds in the day and yes, depending on venue and individual, I might have just run my hand across my neck as a signal but, when I was working in a nicer place with someone just hanging out peacefully having a few cocktails, the conversation would have been way more diplomatic and discreet like "...you know, I've been making those pretty stiff, maybe a soda before the next one so I don't get in trouble with my boss…". There’s no excuse for serving someone who’s minding his own business and then, without warning or reason, to become offensive. Reminds me of someone I was once married to. Done :)

                              1. re: bobbert

                                Paragraph 1: Agreed.

                                Paragraph 2: disagreed, generally. Or maybe just disagreed on the extent to which lawsuits have/should alter[ed] the bar scene.

                                Paragraph 3: I'll take your word for it. As long as you'll cede that people still get drunk in bars.

                                Paragraph 4: agreed

                                Have a good one.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Paragraph 3: Agreed as well. Adios.

                        2. re: bobbert

                          Did the bartender send someone up to padlock the minibar just in case you decided to have a few more and go joyriding, bobbert?

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Actually, we got a bottle of champagne delivered by room service

                            1. re: bobbert

                              Good on you, I would expect nothing less. ;-)

                      2. re: cowboyardee

                        Just because you've never seen it doesn't mean it's not the correct thing to do.

                        I'm one of those drunks that you'd never suspect was hammered. I'm polite, don't get loud, my mannerisms don't change much, don't get emotional, etc., even when I'm waaaaasted. People who know me well have a hard time telling I'm even buzzed when I'm totally schnockered. Just because I don't act drunk doesn't mean I'm not. It's a bartender's job to err on the side of caution. Would you really want someone who's drank 4 martinis in two hours behind the wheel? No, the OP wasn't going to be driving, but the bartender has no way of knowing that.

                        I've been bartending/managing/etc. for a looooong time. I may have served the OP one more drink, as sometimes I'm a bit more lax than I should be, but I would've kept an eye on him the whole time, and he certainly wouldn't have received a fifth.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          I'm not arguing correct vs incorrect (except where math/# of drinks is concerned). I'm arguing usual vs unusual.

                          If everyone did the safe, responsible, correct thing, the bar scene as we know it wouldn't exist.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            With the advent of .08 and lower DUI laws, the bar scene as we know it IS changing.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              The legal limit has been .08 for some time in a lot of places. The bar scene has already had time to adjust. People still get drunk at bars.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                It's been .08 in some places for a while, sure, but come on. You have to admit the drunk driving laws are getting tougher. Perhaps my acquaintances and patrons are especially cautious, but I've noticed a huge change in behavior due to it. YMMV.

                            2. re: invinotheresverde

                              the OP should have told the bartender that he wasnt driving

                              1. re: thew

                                Probably true, though unless the OP was unusually small or the martinis unusually big, I'm still surprised it came up as an issue in the first place.

                              2. re: invinotheresverde

                                You've described most of the alcoholics and problem drinkers I know. They can drink way more than the rest of us while appearing not to be drunk. But they're still impaired and I make sure I leave the party before they do, because I don't want to be on the road with them. I never have more than one drink if I'm driving because I'm a lightweight.

                                I don't know what the bartender was thinking, but maybe her logic ran like this: "hey, it's a lone drinker drinking sequential martinis, wonder if he's got a problem, if he doesn't look hammered now, maybe he was hammered when he came in, I'm not taking a chance that he'll drive off and kill someone and the victim's family will name me in their suit....."

                                I'm not saying she was correct, or that the OP has a drinking problem, only that she erred on the side of caution. Drinking is usually regarded as a social activity in most cultures, so a person unwinding with 3 drinks after work does cause a person to look twice.

                                In any case, I probably wouldn't want to go back to that bar again.

                                1. re: Isolda

                                  I particularly agree with your third paragraph.

                                    1. re: Isolda

                                      If a bartender's intent though was to stop someone before they were over the limit to drive, would they not have stopped the OP long before their third martini ? (particularly if the drinks were as large as described in this thread)

                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                        I sure would have, but I'm not a bartender. In any case, she was concerned enough to refuse him a 4th martini.

                                      2. re: Isolda

                                        I'll say that I'm imagining a scene in which the OP (I assume a large man if he claims to be lucid and not utterly trolleyed after 3 martinis in 1.5 hours) sits at the end of a bar, methodically putting away drink after drink, breathing heavily and staring intently at his mobile. It may also be that in his walk to the toilet, he bumped up against chairs, swayed, or what have you. The OP may not have noticed what with the drink in him, or what with his being a large man-- many of whom are unaware of the space they take in a room.

                                        In response, I see a bartender trying to check in on what could be someone readying himself for a rage or for a vomit. Perhaps a pause and some water were the recommendations-- and yes, leaping for a Coors Light makes me question the taste of the OP not to mention what exactly is going on: seems a search for a drunk more than a savouring of an experience. Not that there's anything wrong with a search for drunk but it is something more alarming than someone who happens to get there whilst enjoying leisurely drinks and a game, a book, or a conversation with friends.

                                        (Also, not to be a dick, but as a solo drinker/reader I have never been cut off or questioned, possibly because there is a personal limit that comes with the third drink, but also perhaps due to my occasional social interaction with a bartender-- even if it's to thank him/her for stopping others from interrupting me with a 'It looks like you're really into that book, now I'm going to stop you from reading it by asking a bunch of questions that you don't seem to want to answer'. That is, I'm not completely isolated even if enjoying alone time so the bartender can check that I'm ok in a more casual way.)

                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                  "Overcompensating" is the key word here. I don't think most bars or bartenders are going to care about a well-behaved tipsy patron, but I also know that the fear of lawsuits gets bigger as pockets get deeper. My previous employer, for example, adopted very strict overservice policies in response to having to pay out $25M to the family of a girl paralyzed in a car accident.

                                  I am also aware of several smaller places that were temporarily or permanently shut down after patrons were involved in drunken accidents on the way home. That isn't to say that it's common for bars to get in trouble for this (I can think of plenty examples to the contrary), just that it has happened.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    Well, there are many aspects, to which we are not privy.

                                    Considering liability, the servers should have the option to at least question. We do not know how the OP was acting, or interacting. There could be many other aspects, that we just do not know about.

                                    And, a bar CAN mostly certainly be worried about being sued. That is life today, and if you are not aware, maybe you should be. It kind of cuts into the lunch traffic, if one has a picket from MADD, plus lawyers, three-deep, outside the restaurant/bar. Throw in a few local TV news crews, and things can get very ugly, and in a big hurry.

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      I said above (long ago, btw), in absence of more information, I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the OP's account. If he looked or acted like he was smashed, then that changes things. But I see no reason to automatically make that assumption.

                                      A bar CAN have just about any policy it wants. I just question the wisdom of that policy. And I hold that such a policy is far from common. As I've said many times in this thread, I've seen countless people be served more than 3 (standard sized) martinis in a bar, and unless they've appeared quite drunk or belligerent or made obvious overtures about their intention to drive a car, I've never seen someone cut off that early.

                                      But thanks for 'splaining the ways of the modern world to me.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        Well, the policy is being dictated by social conventions, as well as legal ones.

                                        Glad that you are starting to pick up on how things work.

                                        Hunt

                                3. The only understandable explanation for the bartender's attitude/behavior, was that she wanted your seat at the bar vacated, and for you to be replaced by a more interactive patron. Some bars, despite how much you might spend on a tab, may consider a quiet patron, with their head down in a book or device, as a poor posterchild for a vibe-conscious environment. In other words, with too many bookish or quiet types populating the bar, other possibly fun-seeking patrons who pop their head in and perceive a lack of energy rippling thru the bar, might just make a hasty retreat and search for an environment where someone will chat them up and engage in more superficial (but energized) banter... Maybe I'm misreading the scenario, but I think that your reading and scrabble playing relegated you to the stereotyped siberia of public solitude. If it's any comfort, I used to enjoy a good book and martini at a chill bar myself. Keep representing the thoughtful bookish inebriates, you are not alone :-)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: silence9

                                    I like this explanation, finally signed up for chowhound to say so. (I realize this is an old post.)

                                    1. re: VanCityGrrl

                                      Welcome to Chowhound. Happy posting....

                                  2. To play devil's advocate, maybe the bartender was trying to look out for your best interest (and the bar's liability, of course). People are equating 3 martinis with 3 "drinks," but it should be pointed out that EACH martini is typically equivalent to 3 drinks (i.e., has 3 shots of alcohol). Out of curiosity, I entered 3 martinis in 90 minutes into a BAC calculator online and came up with .178...this is very, very drunk--over twice the legal limit for DUI in my state (in contrast, 3 beers would be a mere .051). You may not have thought your behavior was an issue, but you have no idea how slurred your speech may have been when you asked for that 4th drink, or what your walking looked like during those trips to the bathroom. So I wouldn't be so quick to judge the bartender, she may not have been out of line.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Nicole

                                      I agree with Nicole kind of. Most martinis now adays are huge and three in an hour and a half might be more than the bartender was comfortable with or maybe the owner has set a limit on how much to serve a person within a given length of time. And since you were alone, she couldn't assume you wouldn't be driving. And as to the idea that the bar doesn't have a "drink limit policy" well I would bet every bar in the US sometimes limits how many drinks people can have if they want to avoid lawsuits, but it's not something they have to post since it varies from drinker to drinker.

                                    2. I think even if there's some part of the story we are missing, there are more discreet wats a bartender can cut off a customer who needs it.

                                      That said, I can't imagine patronizing a bar that has a three-drink max for customers. It's hard to imagine such a place, actually.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: LeoLioness

                                        Out of curiosity, what should the bartender have said instead?
                                        A blanket 3 drink max would be ridiculous, and I agree that such a bar would not be successful. But it totally depends on the drink, the time period, and the person. 3 beers in 3 hours for a 200-pound man is nothing. 3 martinis in 1 hour for a 110 pound woman is a problem (handy BAC calculator says BAC of .314...you're probably unconscious at that level). Bars have to take steps to protect customers' safety and their own liability, even if that means that people are sometimes offended.

                                      2. I don't know why this person was trying to scrape you off your bar stool, but it sure sounds like bad behavior on her part, unless you're leaving out the part about spitting your olives at the other patrons while singing "Friday" at the top of your lungs.

                                        If the bartender misjudged your level of intoxication and was truly just looking out for you, there are, as LeoLioness notes, more gracious ways to convey that. "Would you like a spacer first?" comes immediately to mind.

                                        35 Replies
                                        1. re: small h

                                          A bartender who serves a customer three martinis in 1.5 hours is breaking the law. It is illegal to serve someone to the point of intoxication, which three martinis in such a short time would be.

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            I defer to your greater experience in this area. But point of intoxication varies with weight, among other factors. And there's nothing stopping a bartender from being diplomatic, which this one wasn't.

                                            1. re: small h

                                              I'm not sure there is a diplomatic way to tell someone you won't be serving them any more booze. It's bound to offend and/or embarrass, no matter how nicely it's said.

                                              For the record, I'm agreeing with invinotheresverde.

                                              1. re: purple bot

                                                The original poster did not say the bartender embarrassed him. She did not say he was cut off. She offered a suggestion that "haven't you had enough." At that moment, the OP could have said "I understand your concern but my wife will be coming in to pick me up" but he didn't. I say the bartender made the right call.

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  You're right -- those specific things didn't happen to the OP, I was speaking generally about shutting someone off. Which the bartender did, however she said it. Also, it doesn't matter if the person is driving or not. If that person comes to harm due to intoxication the restaurant/bar is liable. Even if he/she falls on their face and smashes their head open, or falls into the subway tracks, etc. At least in MA this is true. A little side note: if I walk into a bar already buzzed and am served a single drink, then come to harm/harm someone else, that last bar is still liable, even though they only served me one drink.

                                                  And yes, I agree, the bartender made the right call. And I don't think it had the slightest bit to do with wanting someone more engaging at the bar. Pshaw.

                                                  1. re: purple bot

                                                    You and are are agreeing on this purple bot. When I told my husband about 3 martinis in hour and a half, he figured the guy would have to be s***faced and should be cut off.

                                                    1. re: escondido123

                                                      Depending on the weight of OP, he could have been just under limit (.07). This is without taking in account his weight, metabolism, etc.

                                                      1. re: vanierstudent

                                                        Yes, that's certainly possible. It's also possible he could've blown much, much higher than that.

                                                        Three martinis in 1.5 hours is a healthy amount of booze. I may have served the OP one more, but that would've been the max.

                                                        1. re: vanierstudent

                                                          Did you see my earlier post? A more accurate estimate is .178, for an average-sized man.

                                                          1. re: Nicole

                                                            depending what "average size" means. 180 pounds is the American average.

                                                            http://caaneo.ca/about/blog/blood-alc...

                                                            So if OP is taller, or weight more than the average, has a faster metabolism etc, he could be at .08-.10, which isn't shitfaced, but just impared.

                                                            the average weight for an American man was 193 LB in 2002 if I recall correctly.

                                                            Edit: DAMN, 3 shot a Martini? It's closer to 2 shots and 1 finger of vermouth.

                                                            1. re: vanierstudent

                                                              I'm not going by my own estimates, like you are, I'm going with unbiased BAC calculators I found online (search yourself). I'm also not putting in the number of shots, which we could debate, I am putting in the drink (martinis). Even if we go with a higher weight estimate of 200 pounds, you still get a BAC of .14, which is pretty drunk. It's a little concerning to me that people are so apt to underestimate how much they are drinking.

                                                              1. re: Nicole

                                                                I used the CAA website, this is why i am asking about the size of the drink, because it seems that the American average size and the Canadian average size seems quite different due to the difference in our results.

                                                                Even tough I do understand why the Bartender cut OP's off, since he was over the legal limit to drive and was alone, I dissagree with the fact that he actually did it in that manner.

                                                        2. re: escondido123

                                                          Mine said the same thing, and he's fairly relaxed about drinking.

                                                2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  >>"It is illegal to serve someone to the point of intoxication"<<

                                                  Whoa, whoa, whoa. In the first place, liquor sales are regulated at the state and local level. And many of those laws limit liability to situations where the patron isn't just over the legal limit to drive, but is absolutely shitfaced.

                                                  Most states only impose liability if the patron is "visibly intoxicated" or "obviously intoxicated," and others go further - for example, a Missouri barkeeper only breaks the law by serving someone who exhibits "significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction." In Texas, a patron must cut off when he is so obviously intoxicated that he "presents a clear danger to himself and others."

                                                  A 200-pound guy who drinks three 4-ounce martinis in 90 minutes is going to blow around a .10. That's going to cause reduced reaction time, slower reflexes, and slightly reduced gross motor control. In other words, he's lightly buzzed and shouldn't be driving a car or operating heavy machinery, but is far, far, far from "obviously intoxicated."

                                                  Any bar that cuts off its patrons once their BAC exceeds .08 doesn't deserve to be in business. And any bartender who claims that it's okay to do so is reaching for a justification. I don't know what the OP's circumstances were, but if they were similar to those I described, the cutoff was purely pretextual.

                                                  Which leaves the next question - what was it a pretext for?

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                    Interesting info. Now I see how I came up with my opinion above: I live in Texas :)

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      Sorry it's taken me so long to write back. I was having a kid. ;)

                                                      Interesting WRT different state service laws. I'm a bit leery of their legitimacy, though. I've sat TIPS, Barcode and Servsafe in a few different states and they've all had the same policy: if you serve someone to the point of intoxication (which, in almost every state in the US is .08, max), YOU, the bartender, are liable. I can't imagine I've only lived in uber conservative states.

                                                      I've personally drank many, many 6 oz+ martinis in my day. That's a lot of booze. That's going to put a dude well over .10.

                                                      Your next to last paragraph is opinion. You definitely don't want to come to MA, where bartenders are fired if they overserve. Bars follow the rules here, generally. It's not worth the ABC busting you and the legal liabilities. No one seems to have a major problem with it.

                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        CONGRATS!!!! i think you deserve at least 3 martinis '-D

                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                          Oh my gosh! What a cutie!!!! Congratulations!

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            Oh me oh my. Congratulations and a blessing to your family.
                                                            Marci

                                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                              >>"if you serve someone to the point of intoxication (which, in almost every state in the US is .08, max), YOU, the bartender, are liable."<<

                                                              Sorry, that's just incorrect. Courts around the country have held that the definition of intoxication you're using is relevant only to drunk driving laws, and has no bearing on dram shop liability. If the law were what you claim it is, it would be illegal to serve martinis to women under 120 pounds. And those 6-oz+ monsters you're talking about? Unless you're on the wide side of 220, you're not allowed to have 'em.

                                                              My last paragraph isn't just opinion, it's based on decades of observation. People get buzzed (BAC .08+) in bars all the time. I've seen it in Massachusetts, I've seen it in California, and I've seen it in plenty of places in between. Are you really claiming that they don't?

                                                              BTW, congratulations on the new addition! Hope you both are doing well.

                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                  Again, TIPS, Barcode and ServSafe disagree. I'm going with them.

                                                                  Thanks for the kind wishes, everyone! She kicks major ass. Best thing we ever did.

                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                    If you want an answer to a legal question, the best place to start is by asking a lawyer. They're not. And they're wrong. Of course, it never hurts to err on the side of caution.

                                                                    A girl, even. Outstanding. Agreed about being the best thing ever. I remember when mine were cute little babies. How quickly things change...

                                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                      Big congrats to you!! Wishing you both a healthy, happy future :)

                                                                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                    Are you seriously suggesting people don't get drunk in Boston bars? That overserving is rare?

                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                      Especially not in Southie. The Irish are notorious teetotalers.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        Those kids in Allston-Brighton could definitely operate heavy machinery on a Saturday night.

                                                                      2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                        People certainly get hamboned in Boston. A bar could lose their license if they serve someone to that point, though. I'm telling you, I'm certified via the three alcohol programs listed above and they all have my back.

                                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                          I'm not disputing the law or the consequences of violating it. I'm just saying your assertation that most bars strictly follow the rule has not been my experience, as a person well-familiar with Boston bars.

                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            I've been following this all week, because I, too, love a stiff martini. Years ago, in my early 30's, my wife was away at a business function. At our usual Sunday evening restaurant, the bartender started to chill my Bombay as we exited the car! This particular Sunday, our favorite server asked "you want another, sir?" as I drained my usual second Bombay, up, with extra olives. Sure, I was by myself, only the server and I knew. Three was way too many, maybe 5-6 ounces each. I 'm 6'1" and a solid 220 lbs. I gotta say to the shoeman (OP); I was hammered! This was way before we've become a litiguious (sp?) society. I'd have to agree with the barkeep.

                                                                  3. re: small h

                                                                    Old thread, but revived by Helena's column. I'm with Leo and smallh—it's the way it was handled that irks me. "Haven't you've had enough?" is so smug and condescending...Obviously, if I thought I'd had enough, I wouldn't have ordered another. If *you* think I've had enough, I'd just as soon as you said so in a kind but honest, concerned-for-the-safety-of-all manner.

                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                      I think that you might be reading more into this, than exists.

                                                                      Let's say that the OP has had the drinks outlined, and wants more. Why would the bartender wish to "scrape" this person? A person, heavily under the influence is more likely to not notice an up-charge on a bill, and is quite likely to tip above the "going rate," because of the service.

                                                                      I just do not buy your points, given the info in the post.

                                                                      Hunt

                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Upthread, you wrote: "And, a bar CAN mostly certainly be worried about being sued." Now you're claiming not to understand why a bartender would want to stop serving a customer - who might be drunk enough to get the bar in legal trouble - when said bartender has a golden opportunity to make a few extra bucks off the lush.

                                                                        So do you think that bartenders should cover their asses and protect their place of employ from lawsuits? Or do you think that bartenders should grab for any bit of coin they can, even if it comes from an impaired person? Because you have written a comment in support of both positions (or maybe you wrote the first comment and then immediately changed your mind).

                                                                        And in case you hadn't noticed, you're responding to a post I wrote over ten months ago. What made you suddenly take an interest?

                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                          Sorry. I either did not make myself clear, or mis-communicated. The potential of being sued is very high, at least in the US.

                                                                          As far as the date of the post, this thread just showed up on my list for this board. Not sure if someone dug out a "zombie," or something else. Do you now, not feel the same, as you espoused then, or is there something else bothering you?

                                                                          Sorry for any confusion,

                                                                          Hunt

                                                                    2. The average person metabolizes an average drink in about 45 minutes to an hour. An average martini has a higher alcohol content than an average drink. On top of this, it is absolutely the bartenders job to cut you off. It is illegal in most states to overserve, and overserve means to allow a patron to be intoxicated. Yes, it sounds dumb that a bar is not allowed to let it's customers choose to get drunk, but legally they can't. At one martini every 30 minutes, there seems little doubt that you were above the legal definition of intoxicated. She probably could have cut you off after the second drink, but decided to cut you some slack. Since you continued to guzzle the booze, she made the right decision.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                        You're conflating the definition of "intoxication" used for determining whether someone is legal to drive with the definition of "intoxication" used to determine liability under a dram shop law. Maybe they're the same in some states, but in most places they are two completely different standards.

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          yes, i probably was. but at 280 pounds and a not infrequent drinker i know that 3 martinis in 90 minutes is borderline drunk for most people, but often not to the point where they themselves are aware of it. I doubt there is much real difference in our opinions overall on this one. Too bad the bartender isn't here to offer the other side of the story.

                                                                      2. I don't disagree that it's a bartender's right not to overserve, for their own protection and the protection of the establishment. I do think there's perhaps a more sensitive way to address this than by saying "haven't you had enough?" That's something I expect to hear from a nagging spounse, not someone in the service industry. Something like, "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I'm not comfortable making you another drink containing alcohol. Can I offer you an orange juice/coffee/soda/ instead?"

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. While the bartender could have put it in more gentle terms, I do believe that they were in the right to cut you off. They know how much is in those drinks and they see people drink them day in and day out and generally have a good feel for their potency.

                                                                          You could have mentioned that your wife would be picking you up, but the bartender still may have been uncomfortable serving you another drink without some water first since there's still the risk of belligerence or accidents.

                                                                          1. Issues related to serving alcohol are the domain of the States and will vary from one State to another. Although there are potential civil liabilities that may be incurred by a bar/restaurant when a bartender serves too much alcohol to a patron, I am aware of no State that has enacted a flat prohibition against serving alcohol to the point of intoxication. It would be impossible to enforce and would act as a de facto prohibition against the sale of alcohol.

                                                                            It is true that for some legal purposes, the BAC level is the determiner of intoxication. This is due to the fact that it was deemed impossible to determine on a case by case basis whether or not a driver was "drunk" for the purposes of the spate of laws enacted in the 1980s. Consequently, that limit is a legal assumption, if you will, enforceable based upon the nature of the driving privilege. For many people, a BAC of .08 does not mean intoxicated in the colloquial sense of the word.

                                                                            I note all of this, in part, to contribute to the existing discussion, but more importantly to lament the loss of the ability to sit quietly and while away the afternoon in a bar - a simultaneously brilliant and miserable pastime that should remain a part of our social heritage. Sure, maybe you shouldn't drive, might want to eat something, switch to beer, or even down a seltzer, but damn, a man should be able to get good and pissed in a saloon at least once or twice in his life.

                                                                            I prefer to think of this episode as having spring out of the OP's conduct. Three vodka martinis, followed by a request for a Coors Light, simply exhibited such bad taste that the bartender just preferred that he leave. The Scrabble thing probably just made it worse.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                              I agree, it would have been better had he been playing Angry Birds.

                                                                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                                Barkeep probably saw that OP was putting down words like thissss and pleassse and luuvvveee, and drew conclusions from that

                                                                              2. re: MGZ

                                                                                >>"I am aware of no State that has enacted a flat prohibition against serving alcohol to the point of intoxication. "<<

                                                                                Section 25602(a) of the California Bus & Prof Code provides that "Every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to any habitual or common drunkard or to any obviously intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor."

                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                  As you made fundamentally the same point above, alan, I'm a bit confused by the point of your citation. I assume that you are not equating "to the point of intoxication" with "obviously intoxicated." The former being a necessary antecedent to the latter.

                                                                                  Thus, I suppose I stand corrected that there is a prohibition against serving a first drink or two to someone who is a known "drunk" (the caselaw must be entertaining on that one). One cannot help but wonder how a bartender knows the guy who stops in after work each night becomes a "habitual drunkard." I assume it is not often enforced; it has got to be hard arresting someone for serving a drink to a regular.

                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                    The "habitual drunkard" language just stayed in because I was too lazy to replace it with an ellipsis. My point had to do with the prohibition on serving an "obviously intoxicated person." I was trying to reconcile two extreme positions: (1) that it's illegal to serve alcohol to anybody who's unfit to drive, and (2) that there are no legal prohibitions on selling alcohol to someone based on how drunk they are. On re-reading your post, I'm pretty sure your point was more nuanced than that second position, but just figured I'd point it out.

                                                                                  2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                    I'm not trying to be obtuse here, but it seems to me that the key this law hinges on is the phrase, "any habitual or common drunkard," - but is the 'tender supposed to have some knowledge of the patron's arrest or citation record? Or of the drinker's personal life and habits, for that matter?
                                                                                    I do think it comes down to that fine line - what the buzzed person thinks about his/her behavior maybe far afield from what's observable by another, presumably sober person. And in this case, specifically, it sounds like the bartender erred on this side of caution, which isn't a bad thing - frustrating and difficult, but perhaps life and job saving in the end. But, I can see the other side. If a patron was known to me, and was loading a pretty good buzz, I'd have a horribly hard time cutting them off unless I knew with certainty that the person was planning to drive, (which I would ascertain beforehand) in which case, No Problem Cutting You Off Whatsoever, Buddy.

                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                      Notice the "or" between common drunkard and obviously intoxicated. One can be obviously intoxicated for the first time ever, and the law would still apply.

                                                                                2. We haven't heard back from the OP. Is he out drinking martinis again?

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                    "hee hee!", she said as she rattled the ice in her Tanq & Tonic

                                                                                  2. The barkeep is god -- you no like his or her attitude, don't go back.

                                                                                    1. Quite honestly, no matter what the intentions of bartender, I would be mortified and would likely not return easily. Her delivery is also a problem, if there is a policy, she should have stated that, because she came across as snide (obviously I wasn't there). I keep getting an image of church lady a la SNL.

                                                                                      The difference here is, I suppose, that this is a restaurant, not a bar. I can speak for myself though, that I've been out for celebration dinners and possibly drank close to that much over the course of an evening (in a restaurant / casual / bar type setting - not fine dining). And as a big group, we were likely a bit more rambunctious than the OP. I wonder too if this would have been noticed if OP were in a group.

                                                                                      And speaking from the perspective of posts here that have detailed rude, loud and over-the-top behavior from drunken patrons in restaurants, the OP's situation seems like certainly the lesser of two evils. Oddly enough, it appears that the restaurants do NOT always intervene in those situations.

                                                                                      1. I am OP. I beg you to watch this video:

                                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=...

                                                                                        I guess you have to cut and paste.

                                                                                        I'm overwhemed by the different number or posts. Please watch the vid.

                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: shoeman

                                                                                          So was this the point you were trying to make from the get-go, or ...?

                                                                                          Confused.

                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                            No. I'm not from MADD or any other anti-drinking group. In an unrelated way, someone sent me the vid and I thought it was perfect to share.
                                                                                            I really thought more people would have taken the position "this is america, where is the day a responsible person can't go into a bar and get pissed if they wish." As the thread progressed it turned into a drinking driving / alcohol legal liability topic. I think someone called the bartender "god"?

                                                                                          2. re: shoeman

                                                                                            As a non-drinker and the son of an alcoholic, I applaud your use of this thread to bring awareness to drunk driving and the consequences it has on the innocent. It is clear from some of the responses on this thread that the "the amount I drink is my decision, not yours" mentality is alive and well, with people daily making decisions that can forever change the lives of so many. Know when to say when, and if you are unsure err on the side of caution.

                                                                                            1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                              "'the amount I drink is my decision, not yours' mentality is alive and well"

                                                                                              Even you appear to subscribe to it. No one articulated any support for the propriety of drinking and driving. There's no reason for sanctimony.

                                                                                              1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                The amount I drink **is** my decision. It's only when that decision affects other people (for example, if I get behind the wheel of a car) that anybody has any business trying to impose their judgment on me.

                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                  Fully agree.
                                                                                                  Everybody's body chemistry is different.

                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                    alanbarnes, serious question here: I've always wondered about the issue of public intoxication, having seen a (non-querolous, quiet) drunk guy pulled off the street. He was drunk in public, but not disturbing the peace in any way; basically just staggering along and minding his own business. I stood back to listen ('cause I just love to mind other people's bizness AND the cops around here are super-overzealous in some areas) and the guy got cited - not for public drunkenness, but for disturbing the peace! He wasn't taken in. And I have always wondered why the officer chose to make one citation instead of the other or both. (?)

                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                      Penal Code 647(f) is California's "drunk in public" law. (Not to be confused with "Punk in Drublic," the classic NOFX album.) It provides that a person is guilty of "disorderly conduct" if s/he is so intoxicated that "he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others" or "interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way." So you can be guilty of "disorderly conduct" by staggering around quietly, or even by passing out on the sidewalk (not recommended).

                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                        ......I try NEVER to pass out on the sidewalk. So gauche. So far, so good.
                                                                                                        Ok, that makes perfect sense, unlike some other claptrap I've read lately. Thank you.

                                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                          Haha! I find flowerbeds with fresh mulch are much more comfortable for passing out :D

                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                            Who was it who said the sign of a good weekend was waking up on Monday morning next to a dumpster behind a 7-Eleven with a dog licking your face?

                                                                                                2. 'reading a book and playing scrabble on my iphone'...'and did not utter a single word to anyone the enitre time I was there. So my behavior was not the issue'

                                                                                                  IMHO, that was the issue..you didn't utter a word to the bartender?
                                                                                                  I felt that you set yourself up for her cutting you off...if she knew your wife was picking you up and you weren't driving, would of given her more leeway to keep the drinks flowing.
                                                                                                  I think she was totally justified in what she did.
                                                                                                  Wishing you all the best shoeman!

                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                    The incident happened at 6 pm. It was happy hour and I had a meal served by the bartender. The bar was mostly empty. I just can't imagine how sitting peacefully set me up to be flagged? Staring up in the sky for two hrs is a problem. Driving is not an issue, I wasn't and I could walk home from the rest.. The bartender could of asked if she was concerned. After that, I believe I should have been judged by my behavior. I'm pretty sure my behavior had nothing to do with this. I'm a big guy and moderate drinker. Three martini's is a breeze. My wife drove me back to work afterward. I assume the bartender figured she'd be wasted and therefore so must I.

                                                                                                    1. re: shoeman

                                                                                                      I don't have an issue with the 3 martini's..I think it was you not uttering a word to the bartender..usually, there is some banter that goes on and I feel that if she got a little something verbally from you, things would of been different.
                                                                                                      I do feel that she was somewhat flippant toward you and I totally get where your coming from.
                                                                                                      ; )

                                                                                                      1. re: shoeman

                                                                                                        sorry, but did you just say you had 3 martinis and went "back to work". . . ?

                                                                                                        incidentally many people on the "how dare (the bt)" side seem to be oblivious to what she said-- which is legal language/phrasing, duh, not emily post's etiquette. when a bt states to a patron "i think you've had *enough*" or "don't you think you've had *enough*" this (the word ENOUGH rather than too much/plenty/more than you needed) is a legal hedge. a bt is trained never to say "i think you've had too much" or similar phrase, which is legally the same as saying "i think i/the establishment has overserved you" and opens the door to a lawsuit on that end. bts are trained to use clear, non-ambivalent, non-incriminating language when it is time to cut someone off, without going into pointing out behaviors/intoxication markers the bt may have observed but the drinker may be oblivious to. the bt will simply say a relatively mild but non-ambivalent "sorry, you've had *enough* for tonight," or similar phrase.

                                                                                                        many habitual drunks are a bit like toddlers, and so a bt's/server's "nice," weak, coddling phrasing of a cut off can sometimes be interpreted as an invitation for the customer to argue her/his case. nope, once you've been cut off, you are done at this bar. don't try to argue w the bartender or claim that the vomit was there before you came in or that you won't be driving yourself back to work-- the bt has decided to cut you off and there is no going back on that decision once it's been made. . . if your desire for another drink is that strong, move along to the next bar down the street. if you want to finish playing cellphone games and sitting at this particular bar, nothing is stopping you from ordering a nonalcoholic beverage and chilling out for a while.

                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                          The question is whether a bt can flag you based solely on how much you drink and not how you act. Doing it based mainly on the number of drinks has far more legal complications. By imposing that rule, they assume the responsiblity of keeping track of how much EACH patron drinks. You need to be consistant with your policy or the courts count it as no policy at all. They absolutely do not count drinks. They do not have a drink maximim. That same bt on a busy night has no prob cranking out those martini. I've had more to drink both at the bar and at table with friends many times. They could not count if they wanted too. And yes I own my own business, enjoy a few pops, go back to work and finish paperwork. If a group of five come in with a coke drinking designated driver, I know of no place that would flag them if they are perfectly behaved. I should have been treated the same way. I had three or more martini in more bars and rest then I could count. I've never had a prob

                                                                                                          1. re: shoeman

                                                                                                            At this point, after seeing that video and then posting it, I'd have to assume it is some strange joke for you to post "I had three or more martini in more bars and rest then I could count. I've never had a prob."

                                                                                                            1. re: shoeman

                                                                                                              the bt/establishment has the right to refuse service at any time. a customer is never entitled to unlimited alcohol service. once intoxication markers have been noted by the bt, the bt's prerogative is to perform a cut-off before a problem occurs, not after. you are assuming that the bt was counting drinks and not intoxication markers.

                                                                                                              a martini is a good, strong drink where a person can go from vertical to not-so-much sometime between #3 and #4, particularly when they're being slammed quite quickly at happy hour. there is nothing morally or legally wrong with anything the bt did in this scenario, in fact if you were argumentative/belligerent with her at the time, she probably made the right call. you as the customer have the choice to never go back, of course, but i don't get the impulse to argue your case to some kind of higher power, as it won't change the establishment's legal right/responsibility to not knowingly overserve its customers.

                                                                                                              btw i do agree with you that if you had been engaging in social drinking behaviors the bt may have anticipated less of a problem and given you more leeway. solitary, antisocial drinking behaviors will attract scrutiny from well-trained barstaff and security. a relatively small # of drinkers consume over half the alcohol consumed in this country, and bar people generally have a good handle on problem behaviors to look out for.

                                                                                                              1. re: shoeman

                                                                                                                "The question is whether a bt can flag you based solely on how much you drink and not how you act."
                                                                                                                In my experience, people who've had 3 martinis in 90 minutes aren't necessarily the most accurate reporters of how they acted in that situation. Now, I'm sure you would remember if you were picking fights and the like, but I don't think you'd have any idea if you were all over the place when walking to the bathroom, or slurring your speech when asking for that 4th martini. You likely appeared drunker than you felt you were.

                                                                                                                1. re: Nicole

                                                                                                                  The only really objective way of deciding to cut someone off is by how much they've had to drink. Iive seen some very cool, very drunk people and I've seen a lot of assholes who have had nothing to drink. You might throw the ass out for being an ass but that's not necessarily a legit reason to not serve him a drink. Yeah, being an asshole is legit. Nevermind.

                                                                                                              2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                Body language can be a very effective deterrent, especially if you know your bt. Many years ago I was with friends at a bar where we were known to the bartender. I was knocking back double Greyhounds, and doing it fast. (Nope, we weren't driving ourselves, and the bt knew we never did/would.) Right before last call, I tapped the bar for one more, and she came up and said, "one more?" I said, "yes." She said, "A double?" And then I caught it - while she said it, she was steadily looking me in the eye and shaking her head in the universal "no", very subtly and gently. It wasn't a cut-off; it was a gesture of concern and a recommendation, and I appreciated it and just had a single and then water after that. My point is, she did it in a very classy way that made her point and embarrassed neither of us.
                                                                                                                And frankly, I don't care who you are or how much you weigh; all issues of driving and liability aside. Even if you had dinner, 3 martinis in an hour and a half is going to produce a buzz in any living creature, and if the bartender said you'd had enough, whether you agreed or not, you'd had enough, end of story. Right or wrong, her prerogative.

                                                                                                              3. re: shoeman

                                                                                                                Agree that it is the bar's prerogative to cut you off at any time. If they serve a visibly intoxicated person they (even when driving is not an issue) open themselves up to liability and even their license to serve being threatened. Some of you just don't get the blood-alcohol equations.

                                                                                                                My only problem was with the bartender's approach. She was highly unprofessional. If she truly believed OP had "had enough" she should have simply assertively yet politely stated (not asked!) "I'm sorry but I am not able to serve you any more alcohol". No wishy-washy questions, just the facts ma'am.

                                                                                                                1. re: shoeman

                                                                                                                  Okay, I just have to know: What is your job, and why did you drink several drinks before going back to it?

                                                                                                                  1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                                                    Ship captain for Costa Cruise Lines??

                                                                                                                    1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                                                      OP stated that he owns his own business and frequently has a few drinks and then goes back to his paperwork (possibly, at home). His wife gave him a lift back... If he was in the music or entertainment industry, he might as well have a few drinks with clients or at a venue whilst having a business meeting...

                                                                                                                2. Any other bars in town?

                                                                                                                  1. http://www.jrlawfirm.com/blog/man-sue...
                                                                                                                    http://www.parispi.net/articles/2011/...

                                                                                                                    Unfortunately bartenders are facing lawsuits so how much she serves you has become her business.

                                                                                                                    I'm not going to argue the legitimacy of the lawsuits or personal responsibility but I know if I were in her shoes I couldn't afford a lawsuit - even if they don't go to court it costs me money/time/reputation.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: maplesugar

                                                                                                                      I find it somewhat sad when we're talking about liability over injury. I like to drink as much as the next guy--except maybe three martinis in 90 minutes though that would mean I couldn't get from the bar to my car so that would be a good thing--but cracking jokes about drunk driving just seems to go too far. Lucky for me, the best restaurant in town is within walking distance, so we can get home without a car.

                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                        I know I abhor drunk driving. I don't see how it's so hard if you've had a few to call a friend/parent or take a cab. Drunk driving and the potential/real harm it can cause is just plain wrong.

                                                                                                                        The OP was asking about getting flagged by the bartender though so I just meant to suggest the increase in lawsuits naming the bartender or the bar might be why they're being more cautious about over serving.

                                                                                                                    2. Jumping in way late on this thread. The average martini contains 1.5 oz. of gin/vodka, and the vermouth is around 1/4 to 1/2 oz. max .At low proof it doesn't really add much alcohol.

                                                                                                                      http://bloodalcoholcalculator.org/#Li...

                                                                                                                      In 1 1/2 hours a 220 lb. male (the OP) would have a blood alcohol of 0.030
                                                                                                                      210 = 0.033
                                                                                                                      200 = 0.035
                                                                                                                      190 lb. = 0.039
                                                                                                                      180 = 0.042
                                                                                                                      170 = 0.046
                                                                                                                      160 = 0.051
                                                                                                                      150 = 0.056
                                                                                                                      140 = 0.062
                                                                                                                      130 = 0.068
                                                                                                                      120 = 0.076
                                                                                                                      110 = 0.085
                                                                                                                      So if the OP weighed 110 lbs. then they would be legally drunk.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                        OP is named shoeman. If he were 110 lbs, maybe he would have been a legally drunk jockey?

                                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                          i think you need a new bar, if you think there is merely 1.5 oz of the hard stuff in an "average" martini. perhaps if you double your estimate, you would be closer.

                                                                                                                        2. I have just read this thread with interest and can't quite believe what I am reading. It makes me so thankful to not live in an area where drinking in a bar is so tightly regulated (and in all honestly I thought we DID have super tight regulations). Seriously, if I was cut off after three cocktails in 90 minutes I would not return to that bar. While you may not be legally fit to drive in that circumstance (and fair enough too, there is NO excuse for drink driving!) I can't understand the need to cut someone off so soon. Understanding what your drink sizes are, you might want to slow up after five or six, but only three? I know we have a different attitude to alcohol and drinking than to the US (but I suppose it explains A LOT!), but cutting someone off so soon is just laughable. How on earth do bars make money if patrons can't drink? Doesn't make sense to me.

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                            The more posh USA drinking establishments ostensibly make a profit by offering high-end cocktails ($22 langoustine martini, etc.). And by staying open long past midnight, instead of closing for part of the afternoon or by mid-evening.

                                                                                                                            And beginning to "slow up" after 6 drinks?? Yeah, I guess I was twenty-five once, for a year.

                                                                                                                            1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                              Well, I'm no longer 25 (as much as I would like to be!), but the interest for me is more of the difference between Australian and US drinking cultures. Australia is heavily influenced by the US in many ways (and sadly seem to be following the litigious culture), however the only rules in relation to cutting someone off in Australia is if they're VISIBLY drunk. If the patron is unable to keep their balance, slurring their speech or making a drunken nuisance of themselves to other patrons, then they can be cut off. This is to be interpreted by the bar staff. It's at a bars discretion to what time they open and close, but I can't see a bar that closes before midnight being particularly successful here.

                                                                                                                            2. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                              "How on earth do bars make money if patrons can't drink?"

                                                                                                                              In today's "sue first ask questions later" society, the better question is how can they afford to over-serve their patrons?

                                                                                                                              1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                Yet most bars do. What baffles me about this conversation isn't that people think the bartender was in the right (as I said months ago, she can cut off whoever she wants at her discretion), but that so many posters seem unwilling to admit that most bars in America will and do serve a well-behaved, moderate-to-large sized fella more than 3 martinis. Are the bars I've been to really that different from the bars all the other chowhounds are hitting? Are you guys drinking in cop bars? Airport bars maybe? Strange.

                                                                                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                  It is an unfortunate situation. Maybe it's time for people to start examining rights AND their PERSONAL responsibility.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                    individal rights and personal responsibility go out the window when faced with not only fines, lawsuits, but the risk to public safety.

                                                                                                                                    better to be safe than sorry no?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                      That is the US cultural way and I am in no position to argue. My observation does come from an entirely different point of view and I really am just fascinated by how different US culture differs to ours.

                                                                                                                              2. Never had even similar.

                                                                                                                                Often, I have lunch, or maybe dinner, solo, as wife is in meetings, and often with meals. I usually go through a half-dozen wines, B-T-G. Not one server/bartender has ever questioned, though I will admit that I have sometimes mentioned that I am walking, or have a limo picking me up. When doing this, I never think about driving.

                                                                                                                                Sorry that you had this problem.

                                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                  One would hope the OP has gotten over the experience and the subsequent trauma, given the incident is now close to year old.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                    Well, even older thread might be useful to others.

                                                                                                                                    If one is so worried about the posting date of the OP, then why would they bother to post at all?

                                                                                                                                    Just curious,

                                                                                                                                    Hunt