Summer is synonymous with sangria, and anyone who's had one too many jarros de sangria knows that the fruity libation is synonymous with intoxication. If served properly, sangria can be the maverick of the drink menu. It's cost-effective, easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. However, sangria gone wrong can mean over-served guests, lost money and liquor license violations. Avoid sticky situations by safely serving sangria this summer.
Behind the bar
When making a vat of sangria, it's crucial to measure every ingredient – fruit included. This controls liquor costs and the amount of alcohol each guest is served. Because the punch-like drink has so many different juices and simple syrups, it can be hard for a guest and even staff member to tell that a batch is especially stiff. The flavors mesh so well that they can mask an especially strong dose of alcohol.
Whether an establishment borrows a recipe from DC's touted "P Street secret" Urbana, which received a shout-out from Thrillist, or makes its own version – consistency is key. Using exact measurements not only prevents the staff from accidentally adding in one too many ounces of tequila, but it keeps things consistent for the guest. Someone who visits a restaurant specifically for its sangria is going to want the same cocktail every time.
Measure specialty sangrias – ones that are made per order – using a jigger and other bar tools to keep beverages balanced. If a patron asks for an extra shot of booze, the manager can assess the situation to determine whether or not the request can be met. Sometimes, even if it doesn't feel like it, not complying is in the best interest of the guest. Safety comes first, and in many states, it's illegal to serve patrons more than one drink at once.
At the table
Once sangria has been standardized among the bar staff, the next threshold for safety is at the table. From the moment a glass or pitcher makes its way from the service bar to a table, it's up to the wait staff to ensure that no one who's under the age of 21 is helping themselves to a glass if a pitcher is left on the table. If you notice someone has poured himself or herself a glass of sangria, and they look under the age of 30, gently ask to see an ID. If the patron can't provide one, kindly and sensitively remove the beverage and inform the person that he or she may not indulge in alcoholic beverages without proper identification.
"Make sure a guest isn't over-serving himself or herself."
In addition to watching out for underage drinkers, make sure a guest isn't over-serving himself or herself. Leaving a pitcher of sangria on the table puts the responsibility of serving the drink in the guest's hands, rather than the bartender's. Mitigate any tricky situations by being attentive and alert. Refill guests' glasses for them, so that they don't have to continuously replenish the drinks themselves. This tactic prevents awkward confrontation and also boosts customer service.
On the patio
Sensitivity to sangria exacerbates when you add sunshine to the equation. This means if you're seating a four-top on the patio and they order a pitcher for the table, it's especially crucial to look out for them. According to Real Simple magazine, drinking in a hot environment usually makes guests sweat more, causing dehydration and boosting intoxication.
Keep water glasses filled to the brim so guests can enjoy their tasty libations while staying hydrated. Sipping sangria should be a summer rite of passage, not a hassle! Play by the rules and all will be cool.
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