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Alcohol Content in Wine

We found a great piece in the Seattle Times Wine Adviserwine alcohol levelabout alcohol levels in wines. Alcohol levels must be printed on wine labels according to Federal regulations. The Washington Wine Report notes that wines fourteen percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and under are allowed a 1.5% margin of error – provided the alcohol content does not exceed 14%. Wines over 14% are allowed a margin of error of 1%. In other words, a wine listed at 15% alcohol may be as high as 16% without running afoul of the feds. For this reason alone, there is a good chance that the percentage listed on the label is not entirely accurate. In this case, the printed numbers err significantly and still fall within the letter of the law. Wine Adviser, Paul Gregutt writes,
"So, what's too high? And what's wrong with high-alcohol wines anyway? "When a wine finishes with a burning sensation — that's too high. When the alcohol level is such that it must be masked by winemaking tricks such as massive amounts of new oak, or unwanted residual sugar — that's too high. When a wine loses all traces of varietal character or the more subtle elements that contribute to its aroma, complexity, texture and balance — that's too high. "Worst of all, when a wine reaches such ridiculous levels of alcohol that one glass makes you punch drunk — dry zinfandels pinning the meter at over 17 percent — that's waaay too high. "...When unfortified wines climb above 15.5 percent, they almost always lose subtlety and finesse. Nuances are gone, replaced by the dynamic trio of alcohol, fruit jam and lumber. Apart from the bludgeoning such wines give the palate, they are almost impossible to match with food."
In general, we've found the following to be a helpful guide: Table wine: 8 – 14% Sparkling wine: 8 – 12% Fortified wine: 17 – 22% Part of Responsible Alcohol Service is knowing how much punch a drink packs. It's important to pay attention to alcohol levels in various wines and liquors to avoid over-serving. AACEAprovides alcohol server training which promotes responsible service and sales of alcohol. To get your alcohol servers permit in Washington visit If you're working in the Hospitality industry and are 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 a scholarship for $500 through the Len Riggs and AACEA Scholarship to Save Lives Contest. Entries will be accepted until July 1st.

Become a Better Bartender: Know Your Customers

One of the best ways to become a successful bartender is to know your customers. Knowing your customers means using the customers names to build rapport, reading your customers, and anticipating their needs. Learn to remember names - if not long term, at least for the night. Pay close attention your customer when he walks in - and strike up conversation. The better you are at learning about and remembering your customers, the better you’ll be able to serve them. bartenderWhen it comes to using and remembering your customers names, you might cringe; however, nothing captures your customer’s attention and confidence faster than hearing his own name. You don't need a stellar memory - just find a way that works for you and stick to it. You might try name association; for example, Stella likes Stella Artois, Jerry likes Jack and Cokes. You could also try repetition; such as, "Hi, Dave!" and later, "Is your drink okay, Dave?" "Dave, can I get you anything else?" It sounds sort of silly, but it definitely works. There's no way to remember every customer's name, but try either of these tricks and you'll be amazed when - a month later - you remember the name of that familiar face at the bar! Learning a customer's name is a great way to get them talking, and talking with your customers clues you in to a few things. Are they chatty or reserved? A quick chat will put your customer at ease. Are they grumpy or do they seem happy? Alcohol seems to exaggerate moods, so you might be more cautious about how much you serve a sullen customer. Are they easy to talk to? You'll be better able to assess when enough is enough - for example, are they slurring? Has their reaction time dropped drastically? Pay attention to these clues and you'll know when to pour and when to say, "No more." Paying attention to these clues will also help you remember to check back in with your customers and anticipate their needs. You want bright, smiling faces around your bar and striking up conversation is a good way to engage your customers. AACEA provides alcohol server training that promotes responsible alcohol sales and service. Get your Washington alcohol permit online. For more information on Washington alcohol certification and to take your class from the comfort of your home visit If you're working in the Hospitality industry and are 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 a scholarship for $500 through the Len Riggs and AACEA Scholarship to Save Lives Contest. Entries will be accepted until July 1st.

Behind the Bar Basics

At America's Alcohol Certified Education Association, we provide alcohol server classes for servers and bartenders to get their Class 12 permit in Washington. We are also committed to providing as much knowledge as possible to our bartenders-to-be. There's a lot more to becoming a bartender than just pouring drinks for paying customers. For anybody who's considering becoming a bartender there are a couple bartending basics that prepare any good bartender for the coming day: You must have the right tools and the right workspace. Behind the Bar Any bartender will tell you, organization is key. You don't want to be behind an unorganized bar, with a line of customers out the door who are waiting for drinks. This is frustrating for you as a bartender, and frustrating for your customers who won't understand why it takes so long to get a drink. You need to make sure you have access to everything you need for your shift - everything needs to be readily available or easy to grab without having to leave the bar. Keep your bar tools close, and make sure your most popular liquors are within arms' reach. It also helps to check the menu at your establishment and make sure that you have the ingredients available for any drink specials you might be offering. It also helps to have popular garnishes ready to go - especially citrus. Cut these up before hand and have them ready to go so you're not cutting fruit when your bar is the busiest. The Right Tools You won't get very far as a certified bartender if you don't have the right tools. These tools include strainers, shakers, bottle or can openers (a "churchkey" works well for both), a corkscrew for wine, and a few rags to mop up should anything spill. Safety is key, so it's handy to have a mat behind the bar along with a mop and broom for any mishaps. It's also important for certified alcohol servers to know a few different types of glasses for the drinks they'll be serving: Highball glasses are often taller than old fashioned glasses (or "rocks" glasses). Tumblers aren't the same size or shape as pint glasses. White and red wines have different size and shape openings. For more information on bartending school in Washington or to get your Mandatory Alcohol Server Training certification from home, visit!

Increased Menu Prices Could Mean More Money In Your Pocket

Restaurants may begin increasing menu prices next year without the fear of losing customers accustomed to deals and discounts, according to a recent report from Jeff Omohundro, a senior securities analyst at Wells Fargo Securities. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows inflation for food at home and dining out approaching the same rates. “With the rate of inflation for food at home increasing in recent months to 1.4 percent, in line with food away from home, we think restaurants may be better positioned to pass along menu price increases to consumers,” he said. We all know that increased menu prices leads to higher check averages, which leads to an increase in tips. Continuing to provide excellent service is key to taking advantage of increased menu prices. Add in an alcoholic beverage up sell and you are on your way! We all know the importance of server training in order to learn about responsible alcohol service. In order to get your bartending license or alcohol servers permit in Washington you must have an alcohol server permit. You can now take this class online at Len Riggs continues to offer this fun and informative class on alcohol server training and now from the comfort of your own home!

New Food Service Requirements for Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

While food service violations are not among the most common violations, restaurants should be aware of the food service requirements for their liquor license type.

The WSLCB this fall adopted new food requirements for spirits, beer and wine restaurants. Highlights: * Expanded items that are considered an entrée to include hamburgers, salads, sandwiches, pizza and breakfast items as long as they include a side dish. * Entrees do not include snack items, menu items which consist solely of precooked frozen food that is reheated, or carry-out items obtained from other businesses. * Increased the number of complete meals required from four to eight. A complete meal is an entrée (steak, fish, pasta, etc.) and at least one side dish (soup, vegetables, salad, potatoes, french fries, rice, fruit, and bread). * Restaurants must serve complete meals for five hours a day, five days a week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Previously, the hours were between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Restaurants having problems meeting their food service requirement should look into the new spirits, beer and wine nightclub liquor license, which is for businesses that primarily provide live entertainment and serve alcohol with main hours between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. The license does not have a food requirement.

Available resources Restaurants should take advantage of the following resources: * Written business policies that describe expectations and how to handle various situations should be developed, and regularly shared with employees. * Mandatory Alcohol Server Training (MAST) is required by law for managers, bartenders and other employees who serve or supervise the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption. * WSLCB Responsible Alcohol and Tobacco Sales classes are offered regularly around the state by WSLCB enforcement officers. Class schedules. * WSLCB website has information on selling responsibly and public safety laws, educational videos and more. * WSLCB enforcement officers are available to help you understand liquor laws. Enforcement Customer Service: (360) 664-9878

In conclusion, restaurants can contribute to public safety and keep their customers safe by carrying out their work in a way that supports Washington's liquor laws.

AACEAprovides alcohol server training which promotes responsible service and sales of alcohol. To get your alcohol servers permit in Washington visit

Recipe: Use Your St Germain

cocktail splashThe history of the popularity of St-Germain liqueur isn’t long - it is by many accounts the “it” liqueur right now, and its popularity seems to have come out of nowhere. Made from elderflowers grown in the French Alps, St-Germain is refreshing and mixes well with many different ingredients. It’s slightly sweet and a bit floral, and the St-Germain cocktail could be called the thinking woman’s Cosmo. In other words, if you've got a client you want to impress, having a bottle of St-Germain stashed away will up your stock. A good mixologist will have St-Germain on hand. There is no denying its prominent place on the best cocktail menus from L.A. to London. This is also a high-quality liqueur is made from delicate flowers and is best when used in a simple recipe. This recipe is the most straightforward way to appreciate St-Germain’s flavor short of sipping it straight. St-Germain Cocktail Ingredients: 2 parts champagne or dry sparkling white wine 1.5 parts St-Germain 2 parts club soda Instructions: Fill a Collins glass with ice. First, add St-Germain, then champagne, then club soda. Stir well, and garnish with a lemon twist. If you haven't got a bottle of champagne open, there are a few other ways to enjoy this delicious liqueur: Elderflower Collins (Cocktail) - Gin, Lemon Juice, Soda, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur French Apple Martini (Martini) - Lemon Juice, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Vodka Part of becoming a better bartender is being knowledgeable about your drinks. Thinking of becoming a bartender? AACEAprovides alcohol server training which promotes responsible service and sales of alcohol. AACEA is hosting a raffle for students enrolled in our alcohol server training classes - sign up today and you're eligible to win $100 from AACEA and Len Riggs. To get your alcohol servers permit in Washington visit If you're working in the Hospitality industry and are 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 a scholarship for $500 through the Len Riggs and AACEA Scholarship to Save Lives Contest. Entries will be accepted until July 1st.

There's still a chance to win $500 through the AACEA Scholarship to Save Lives!

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 AACEA Scholarship 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

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."

Find out more about AACEA at:

Tips to Become a Better Bartender

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. Alcohol servers learn tips like these and more at our online alcohol classes. If you need your Class 12 permit in Washington, take one of our Washington alcohol certification classes. Visit for more information.

Tips to Spot Someone Who is Intoxicated

In the bartending industry, a part of responsible server training is being able to tell when a client is intoxicated, and therefore must no longer be served. In this post on how to cut someone off at the bar, we gave you advice on how to do this in a way which minimizes the potential for aggression or upset. But how do you spot the signs of intoxication in the first place? It may seems simple, but for young bartenders, or those just starting out, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line. If we take as a guideline, the fact that a person's body can usually only process one alcoholic unit per hour, then during quiet periods, it should be simple to notice when someone is attempting to process more than this amount. Of course, body mass affects this process, so a larger person will take longer to get drunk. When it's busy, however, it might be harder to take notice of how often a person is approaching the bar, especially if people are buying in rounds. Luckily, intoxication presents itself in numerous ways. The most common symptoms of intoxication are slurring one's speech, swaying and bumping into things. In a crowded and noisy bar, however, these could be overlooked. Something else to take notice of would be a previously mild patron who becomes aggressive, a social person who becomes withdrawn or a quiet person who decides to buy the whole bar a drink. AACEA’s certified bartenders gain valuable experience like spotting inebriated customers at our mandatory alcohol server training classes. We provide online alcohol server training, while promoting responsible service and sales of alcohol. To get your alcohol servers permit online from home, visit

Washington Liquor Board Considers Extending Hours of Alcohol Sales

As part of our initiative to drive responsible alcohol sales, and provide certified alcohol servers with information in the industry, we've been following a new proposal that will extend alcohol service past 2:00 a.m. Washington state law says that alcohol cannot be sold past 2:00 a.m., but soon local governments may be able to change that time, according to a new proposal from Seattle's Mayor and City Council. The proposal would allow local governments to decide what time bars should stop selling alcohol. The hours would allow establishments to sell alcohol between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. at their discretion. The proposal's advocates say the change would help the city’s nightlife industry, and argue there are public safety merits to not closing bars at the same time - which puts a high volume of drunk drivers on the roads all at once. However, some owners say they don't want later hours because nothing good happens after 2:00 a.m. Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson warned, "There could be higher levels of intoxication associated with longer hours of operation, more drunk drivers on the road during peak early morning commute times, and greater demand for law enforcement services over that extended period of time." Many opponents say that changing this law will cause a burden on law enforcement due to limited department staffing during those hours. What does this mean for staff with a class 12 permit? It would potentially mean longer shifts, and more sales. It could mean more tips - but not necessarily better tips. It will require MAST permit holders to be more vigilant about not overserving customers and about making sure their clients have access to transportation if they've been drinking. To get your liquor permit, take our online alcohol server training from the comfort of your own home. Visit for more information.

What can having your MAST permit do for you?

Anyone who serves alcohol needs a MAST permit; it does stand for Mandatory Alcohol Server Training after all. But did you know that even ID checkers have MAST permits? And also, that you need a MAST permit if you're helping out by serving the wine at someone's banquet event, or wedding dinner? There are two kinds of MAST permit; the Class 12 Mixologist permit and the Class 13 Servers permit. A Class 13 Servers permit will allow you to take and serve alcohol orders, and pour it into a customer's glass at the table, but not to draw wine or beer from a tap, or mix drinks. If you're between 18 and 21, this is the permit to apply for. A Class 12 Mixologist permit allows you to do everything someone with a Class 13 permit can do, but also draw beer and wine from a tap, mix drinks and manage an establishment. You can upgrade your permit when you turn 21 by taking the appropriate course. At Americas Alcohol Certified Education Association, we offer upgrades and renewals - so whether you need to upgrade to a Class-12 permit, or simply need to get your yearly renewal, we can help! MAST permits are good for 5 years, which means that you'll suddenly be popular at all of your friends' weddings and events as someone they can call on to help out serving the celebratory champagne! Of course, it also means you'll be an easy hire for any bars looking for staff; they don't have to wait for you to get your permit and you've already shown that you're dedicated to the world of bartending. Get your Washington alcohol permit with and start practicing your champagne towers for all those summer weddings!

What Glass Should I Use for Different Beers?

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.

pub pint glass

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".

pilsner glass

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.

seidel or 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.

schooner chalice goblet

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.


AACEAprovides alcohol server training which promotes responsible service and sales of alcohol. To get your alcohol servers permit in Washington visit

Where Do Liquor Sales Tax dollars Go?

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:
  1. Distiller's, brewer's or vintner's price to the Board
  2. Federal taxes - excise tax rates on all liquor, plus custom duty rates on imported liquor
  3. Freight costs
  4. 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
  5. 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.


Americas Alcohol Certified Education Association provides online class 12 permits and online class 13 permits. Together we can help promote responsible alcohol sales and service. If you’re looking to get your mandatory alcohol server training certificate, choose online alcohol classes that you can take from the comfort of your own home with AACEA. Sign up for one of our convenient classes at!

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