Having a drink too many? Bartender's looking out for you

Having a drink too many? Bartender's looking out for you
Mr Chafetz (left) chatting with three industry professionals he was teaching to be trainers for the Tips programme.

SINGAPORE - The person serving you drinks at a bar will soon also be looking out for your safety.

Industry leaders are rolling out a new training programme, hoping to help alcohol servers and retailers recognise and prevent alcohol- related problems among customers.

A two-day workshop that ended yesterday saw 12 people certified as trainers for the Training for Intervention Procedures (Tips) programme, which originated in the United States.

The programme was brought in by Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (APB). The Association of Bartenders and Sommeliers Singapore (ABSS) will offer the training, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific.

With "bottle culture" on the rise in clubs and a sizeable proportion of young people binge-drinking, both APB and ABSS hope to see servers and retailers of alcohol pick up skills to serve customers more responsibly.

Tips was developed by Health Communications, Inc. Its president and chief executive Adam Chafetz came to Singapore to equip the trainers to teach others skills such as having confidence in declining sales to intoxicated customers.

"We want to create a more sociable atmosphere between the servers and customers," he said.

"You can distract them from being focused on drinking... with good conversation and good people."

The course for servers is part theory and part role-playing exercises. ABSS aims to train 100 servers in the coming year, with one class starting today.

The Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) will subsidise half of the $140 course fee for each local trainee.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, teaching service staff to watch how much their customers drink is good for the establishments in the long term, said ABSS president Michael Cheng.

"We want repeat customers," he said. "We prevent them from getting drunk today, they know you are concerned for their safety, they will come back to you."

Ms Lauren Wan, a training manager at Brewerkz, signed up to be a trainer because she wants to implement the culture among the 90 front-line staff she works with.

"It's about (being aware) from the first time customers walk into the bar. It's not about acting only once somebody is drunk," she said.

joseow@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 3 in The Straits Times.

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