To enter, comment on our Facebook Page, or tweet @lenriggs on twitter, and use the hashtag #freealcoholservertraining.
For example, you could say “@lenriggs - I want to become a bartender because I make excellent flaming Dr. Peppers! #freealcoholservertraining” and you’re entered to win. It’s that easy!
The contest will be open until April 25 and if you win, you will experience free mandatory alcohol server training courtesy of Len Riggs and Americas Alcohol Certified Education Association. You can post on both FB and Twitter for 2 contest entries. You also get one entry for sharing our contest with YOUR friends on Twitter and one entry for sharing our contest on Facebook. That’s 4 chances to win – total!
If you need Washington alcohol server training, AACEA provides online alcohol server training courses that you can take from the comfort of your own home. Imagine getting your bartender certification in your pajamas, and heading to work later that day. It's that easy. Find out more at www.aacea.com.
Thanks to Contest Hound for helping us spread the word!
There are a lot of things you can do to become a bartending pro - for example, you'll need to obtain your Washington alcohol server permit. But besides that, we have a few tips for the beginner to help you become a pro!
Keep your bar well stocked. You can't make a drink if you don't have all the ingredients, and it's very likely that you won't have much time to walk away from the bar to grab a back-stocked bottle.
Don't have an item/drink/liquor in stock? If you say you're out of something, it could sound like your bar manager is disorganized, or didn't properly order stock for your bar. If you say you're "sold out" of something, it must be a popular item.
Keep your bar tidy. Cleaning up the tools you've used to make a drink is part of making the drink, so get in the habit of rinsing out your shaker/strainer/blender when you're done using it so you don't have to do it prior to making the next drink.
When you've got a list of drinks to make, pick up that bottle only once! Line up your glasses on the bar, ice the ones that need to be cold, and pour all the vodka you'll need for this set of orders so that you don't have to keep going back to get that bottle. It's more efficient to make multiple drinks at a time in this method than pouring drinks one at a time.
Don't over-fill your glasses. Many certified bartenders know that you need to allow around a quarter-inch of room at the top of a glass to avoid spills and messes. If you leave a little bit of room at the top of the glass, your guests won't have to sip off the top to be able to take their drink from the bar to their table.
Keep your head up, your eyes open, your ears open and be alert as much as possible. You'll need to be aware of everything that happens around you. Watch out for drinks that may need refills, suspicious activity, or guests who need their ID checked.
Use both hands. The best bartenders have learned to be somewhat ambidextrous.
Many bartenders can walk behind any bar and be a great bartender regardless of the venue. Often, it's just a matter of learning the way the register works, and where everything is. Learning these tips and tricks are a way to become a better bartender.
We reported a while back that bar glass shapes confuse even the most adept bartenders from time to time. The right glass can definitely enhance the drink you're serving - for example, red wine glasses are built for maximum surface area, letting the wine "breathe".
So how well do you know YOUR beer bar glasses?
Beers are generally served in the standard pint glasses you see at every bar. However, besides the standard pint glass, you may encounter:
Pints: Come in 2 shapes - regular pints and pub pints. They're beer glasses with slightly tapered walls, and a pub pint has a ridge around the top. Pint glasses come in two sizes: Imperial 20 ounce glasses or US 16 ounce pints.
Pilsner Glasses: A long, narrow glass with walls that taper towards the base. Used to consolidate volatiles and support delicate heads of pilsners and other lagers. These may be tall (imperial pint size) or short (weisen glasses). They may also feature a short stem and be "footed".
Seidel or Stein: German-style mugs, often 1/2 liter volume, with handles and thick walls that maintain a cool temperature. An earthenware, ceramic, or metal version is called a stein.
Goblet, Schooner or Chalice: Wide-mouthed, bowl-like, stemmed glass, generally used for serving abbey-style ales. Like tulip glasses, they are often etched to stimulate carbonation. These are also considered schooner glasses - which are often confused with the shorter pilsner or weisen glasses.
Tulip glass: These are much the same shape as the above schooner or goblet - bulbous with a smaller mouth and short stem, that support large heads of artisanal Belgian ales, or any beer you might "swirl". These glasses have etching on the bottom of the inside of the glass, that help stimulate carbonation which allows the beer to keep its head.
If you're a server looking to get your mandatory alcohol server training certificate in Washington or Oregon, look no further than AACEA. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Washington State Liquor Control Board both require a "server permit" for anybody who is employed by a licensee - a business with a permit to serve alcohol (Restaurants, Bars, Restaurants, Deli's, Wineries, etc.) - and who participates in any way in mixing, sale or service of alcohol for consumption at that business. In short, anybody who may/does/will handle alcohol is required to have a servers permit and complete alcohol server training. AACEA provides daily OLCC and WSLCB-approved classes in the Portland/Metro area and Northwest Oregon, the Seattle area, and online!
You can complete online alcohol training from the comfort of your own home or come to one of our popular classes. At the end of our classes you will have your temporary permit in-hand, whether it's a new or renewal permit. If you're looking for your Washington State alcohol server's permit, check out our online training. The course can be completed from home in only 3 hours, and you can be at work in the service industry that day! America's Alcohol Certified Education Association is dedicated to promoting responsible alcohol sales and service through our course pack. Find out more today at www.aacea.com.
A recent report on Medscape News Today notes that teen drinking is down in 2011 - in fact, underage drinking has fallen to its lowest point in 3 years. This is good news for law enforcement and those in the alcohol industry who have been vigilant in attempting to crack down on underage drinking.
Selling alcohol to minors can result in criminal charges, fines and most likely the loss of your job. For alcohol, it is your legal responsibility to make sure the person is 21 or older. If you intentionally help someone under 21 obtain or attempt to obtain alcohol, it's considered "aiding and abetting." This means you cannot help an underage person buy alcohol, you cannot buy for alcohol for them or give them any alcohol.
Reducing the number of underage drinkers can be as easy as knowing what to look for on a customer's ID. At America's Alcohol Certified Education Association, we provide alcohol server training that teaches prospective bartenders and servers how to quickly identify proper identification as well as spotting intoxicated customers, and knowing just how much alcohol is in a beverage.
With the widespread use of fake IDs, it can be difficult to make sure you're serving to an of-age customer. There are a few guidelines for spotting fake IDs though:
Compare the person in the picture to the one who is presenting it. Often, this is the biggest clue.
Feel the ID for cuts in the birthdate and/or picture area. They can be subtle.
Compare the identification document to the ID checking guide.
Look for different types of ink on the ID, color contrasts, smudges and misprints.
Overall, trust your instincts. Servers have the right to refuse sale to anyone for any reason.
We're giving everybody an extension, and a second chance to win $500!
Are you working in the Hospitality industry and currently enrolled or enrolling in college? Tell us what it means to you to be the first line of defense in drunk driving and you may win $500 through the Len Riggs and AACEAScholarship to Save Lives Contest. Entries will be accepted until July 1st.
To enter: Like the AACEA Facebook page and read the complete contest rules (find them here). Submit an essay, poem, song, or other piece of creative writing explaining what it means to you as a hospitality worker, to be the first line of defense in keeping drunk drivers off our roads. Send your submissions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need an example? Here's a Sample Entry From Len Riggs, founder of AACEA:
"When I first became certified by the WSLCB I can remember reading the approval letter and thinking "Now what?" I started out with a shoe string budget, rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I had one goal in mind and that was to become the number one provider in Washington. When I mentioned that goal I was met with a lot of skepticism.
"As I began my quest I found myself digging deeper into the culture of alcohol service and could see where I could make a difference by teaching those in my class with more than just enough information to pass the test and get their permit.
"When I teach a class or when I train a trainer for AACEA / LRAST, I do my best to get the fact across that they (the student) can make a difference and save lives. Many times I have been contacted by past students who either went through a class that I taught, or through one of our trainers to thank us for teaching us what we taught."
There are many folk cures that are supposed to help cure hangovers, and often these "cures" are designed to help replenish the vitamins and liquid you lost over night. Try all the cures you'd like - exercise, greasy food, juice - there really is no true cure for a hangover, but there are things drinkers can do to avoid having a hangover, and things drinkers can do to make themselves feel better afterwords.
Get hydrated: Before drinking, hydrate with both clear water and sports drinks that contain sugar and important minerals and salts.
Don't drink on an empty stomach: Before drinking, eat fat-containing foods and foods with high carbohydrate content. These ingredients slow absorption of alcohol in the stomach.
Avoid sugars: Sugar increases the speed of alcohol absorption.
Drink slowly: Sip the drink, and try to minimize the amount of total intake.
For those who get headaches right after drinking: Drink "headache-safe" beverages, such as white wine and light or clear-colored liquors.
Have an Ibuprofen: To prevent the effects of the hangover, you may be able to take anti-inflammation agents before drinking.
If soon-after or hangover headaches occur: Take an anti-inflammatory agent like Ibuprofen (you must wait several hours if you took one in advance of drinking) or an anti-migraine agent if you have them available.
Rehydrate: Drink water and sports drinks after your night out on the town. Avoid narcotic-containing painkillers or any ingredient containing acetaminophen (aka Tylenol). Alcohol can make those drugs deadly, and acetaminophen-containing products may cause serious liver damage when mixed with alcohol, which can sometimes be fatal.
Get a little exercise: A low-impact, or easy exercise may help boost your mood by releasing endorphins that are being suppressed by your hangover. A little light exercise can help alleviate that. Just make sure you're continuing to hydrate, since exercise and dehydration can cause serious problems.
While there's no one cure for a hangover besides rehydration, time and rest, the above tips may make your hangover hurt less. Another tip is to ask your bartender for a glass of water when you order an alcoholic beverage and space each drink out with a glass of water in between.
With all this talk about liquor tax dollars, it's interesting to know where your tax dollars have been going. The WSLCB provides this graphic as a breakdown of the typical bottle of liquor:
In the 2011 fiscal year, Washington State collected $22,482,821 in liquor taxes. The site notes:
The revenue flowing to the state General Fund is used for education, healthcare and other related programs. Revenue returned to local governments is used for prevention programs, law enforcement, emergency medical services and many other local needs.
The retail price of liquor currently being sold in state and contract liquor stores is determined by five elements:
Distiller's, brewer's or vintner's price to the Board
Federal taxes - excise tax rates on all liquor, plus custom duty rates on imported liquor
Markup (see table below), which is controlled by the Board. Markup covers operating costs of the state liquor control system and provides a yearly profit that is shared by the state and local government. The Board's markup is comparable to the wholesale and retail markup applied by private businesses and is also expressed as margin on sales for comparative purposes
State sales taxes (see table below), which is set by the state Legislature
To recoup much of the income WSLCB loses on the sales of alcohol after I-1183, the state is mandating a 10% fee to distributors and a 17% fee to retailers. These costs could be transferred on to patrons of these establishments. A Washington State fiscal report noted, however:
The fiscal impact cannot be precisely estimated because the private market will determine bottle cost and markup for spirits. Using a range of assumptions, total State General Fund revenues increase an estimated $216 million to $253 million and total local revenues increase an estimated $186 million to $227 million, after Liquor Control Board one-time and ongoing expenses, over six fiscal years. A one-time net state revenue gain of $36.4 million is estimated from sale of the state liquor distribution center. One-time debt service costs are $5.3 million. Ongoing new state costs are estimated at $158,600 over six fiscal years.
Governor, Christine Gregoire has argued that expanding sales would help generate more revenue for the state but cautions that more sales may generate new costs to the state - for example, in treatment for drug and alcohol abusers.
You may have read our first champagne primer and wondered, "Well what about all the OTHER types of sparkling wine." You've asked a great question. There are many types of sparkling wines hailing from around the globe that are often more affordable than champagnes, and just as delicious.
Like champagne, these sparkling wines carry a carbon dioxide content that make them fizzy. Like champagne, carbon dioxide can be added through a methode champenoise - a second in-bottle fermentation that gives the drink its bubbles. It can also be added during a second fermentation in large tanks that will withstand pressures (Charmat method) or by carbon dioxide injection.
Some of the most popular alternatives to champagne are Cava, Prosecco, Asti, Spumante, or just plain, "sparkling wine".
A white Italian sparkler, Asti is often made from the Moscato grape, and is a low-alcohol, sweeter, dessert-style sparkling wine. Asti often has a peach-flavor, a floral aroma, and just enough acidity to balance out the sweetness of the wine. It's great as an apertif, but can also be paired with hors d'oeuvres or salads.
Lambrusco is another type of sparkling Italian wine, produced from a red wine grape. Traditional Lambrusco is almost entirely a dry (secco) red wine, however there are varieties of amabile (slightly sweet) and dolce (sweet) that are imported to the US. It's mostly made through the Charmat method.
Prosecco is another Italian sparkling wine, generally produced as a Dry or Extra Dry sparkling white. It has recently become one of the most popular substitutions for champagne in the US, and is one of the main ingredients in Bellinis. Prosecco is also an ingredient of the Italian mixed drink Sgroppino, in which it is mixed with vodka and lemon sorbet. This Italian sparkling wine is made using the Charmat method of secondary fermentation (which takes place in stainless steel tanks) making the wine less expensive to produce. Prosecco should be consumed "as young as possible" - within three years of it's vintage. It's said to be aromatic and crisp (yellow apple, pear, white peach and apricot). Yet it still has a rich taste and complex secondary aromas. Prosecco is fresh, light and comparatively simple, making it an anytime wine in Italy.
Spumante is often just a general term for Italian sparkling wines, though in the US many popular varieties of Spumante are the sweeter Asti Spumante (aka Moscato Spumante).
Cava is the name for a Spanish sparkling wine, mainly produced around Catalonia. Cava generally uses the methode champenoise as a means of secondary fermentation (adding the bubbles), and is produced in several levels of dryness: brut nature, brut (extra dry), sec (dry), semisec (semi-dry), and dulce (sweet). It may either be white or rosé depending on the grapes used.
Born in the USA!
The US produces its fair share of sparkling wines as well - often using the methode champenoise, or the Charmat method. Many higher-end sparkling wines from the US are made using the former, while the lower-cost bottles use the Charmat method. Most now use the traditional champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, plus Pinot Blanc.
Most US sparkling wine producers tend to follow European standards with Brut wine having less than 1.5% sugar up to Doux having more than 5%. Still, there are distinct differences in their techniques, and the production of grapes that can have an effect on the taste of the sparkling wine produced. For example, cuvées produced in the US use fewer vintages (years) of grapes than their european counterparts. The sparklers in the US may age from 8 months to six years, with no minimum aging time - in contrast to standards in Europe. Not only that, the climate in grape-producing regions (especially California) will produce a vintage every year, while European producers may have to wait longer to produce a vintage (a year) of their bubbles.
Currently the US has banned the use of the term "Champagne" on any wines not produced in Champagne, except if the label was in use before 2006. Those labels that are 'grandfathered-in' are required to also state their region of production on their label next to the term "Champagne".
In addition to Domaine Chandon, there are a few French champagne producers who have set up shop in the US, including Domaine Chandon and Tattinger in Napa Valley, and Roederer in Mendocino.
"Come quickly, I am tasting stars..." Dom Perignon, after his first taste of Champagne,
Do you know the difference between an extra dry and a brut champagne? Can you tell a Cava from a Prosecco? Do you know what bubbles from Napa are called, or what makes it bubbly in the first place? If the answer to any of these questions is NO, you're not alone. The confusion may stem from the bubbly elixr's ubiquitos misrepresentation (not all sparkling wines are champagnes), and the confusion between the name, and the taste.
Champagne is a sparkling wine that comes ONLY from the region of Champagne, France.
Any other bubbles calling themselves champagne that do not hail from the region north of Paris are not. They're generally considered "sparkling wines". As Drinknectar.com notes, "While it might sound like French snobbery to some, they developed the process, so I think they deserve to lay claim to the name." We agree.
For sparkling wines that come from outside the Champagne region, the French have reserved the terms "Mousseux", "Crémant" and sometimes "Blanquette". Blanquette is generally a white from Limoux and the sparkling Blanquette actually pre-dates champagne.
When buying, look for the words "méthode champenoise", which means the wine has a second-fermentation in the bottle. This extra fermentation is where the bubbles come in. This is in opposition to the charmat method (and most any other kind of fermentation), which actually requires a large tank. Here, the carbon dioxide is injected while the wine is in stainless steel tanks (rather than fermented in its' own bottle), and is bottled under pressure in a continuous process.
Dry or Brut?
These terms often confuse bubble-buyers. Many would think of a dry wine as being just that - not sweet. However, when it comes to champagne and other sparkling whites, this option is often the sweetest. When looking for a drier bottle, keep this in mind:
Extra Brut (The driest - Pucker up! Many enjoy this extra dry sparkling wine)
Brut (Highly recommended)
Extra Dry (Which is not as dry as Brut)
Dry/Sec (Much sweeter than Brut)
Demi-Sec (A great dessert wine)
Doux (Maximum sugar)
Most champagne is made as a "cuvée" - a blend of 3 types of grapes, typically 2 white and one red. A Blanc de Blancs will be made entirely of white grapes, and is generally more delicate, while a Blanc de Noirs is a white wine made of red/black grapes. The Blanc de Noirs is generally more robust, with a golden color. You may also see bottles of Rosé Cuvée which means just a touch of red wine is added to give it the pink color. Rosé Cuvée is not to be confused with rosé wines.
Champagne is best served cold - between 43 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit. To get your champagne to this temperature, leave it in the fridge for a few days before opening. Never put champagne in the freezer, since contents are under pressure and bottles have a tendency to explode in freezers. We've also read that the quick chill can ruin the aromatics. If you need to chill champagne quickly, put it in an ice bucket filled with half ice and half water for about a half hour.
When pouring, always pour the glass 3/4 full, in tall champagne flutes.
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