The Legal Landscape: Doing shots with Customers

Jan 17 / Gary Olding
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In the dynamic world of bartending, camaraderie between bar workers and customers often involves the exchange of friendly gestures, including the classic offer of a shot. While this tradition may create a convivial atmosphere, it's crucial for both bartenders and patrons to be aware of the legalities surrounding such practices, especially in various counties across Illinois. In this article, we'll explore the legal landscape, local ordinances, and common practices related to bar workers taking shots with customers.

Understanding the Legalities:

The legalities of bartenders indulging in shots with customers vary across counties in Illinois. In some places, there may be specific regulations prohibiting employees from consuming alcohol while on duty, while others may allow it within certain limits. It is essential for bar workers to familiarize themselves with the local alcohol laws to avoid legal complications.

Local Ordinances:

Different counties within Illinois may have unique ordinances governing the conduct of bar workers. Some counties may strictly prohibit employees from consuming alcohol on the premises during working hours, while others might have more lenient regulations. Bar owners and workers should be aware of the specific rules in their locality and ensure compliance to maintain a safe and legally sound working environment.

Factors to Consider:

  • License Requirements: Some counties may require bartenders to undergo specific training or obtain certifications regarding responsible alcohol service. Understanding and complying with these requirements is crucial to avoid legal issues.

  • Establishment Policies: Individual bars may have their own policies regarding employee alcohol consumption. It's important for bar workers to be aware of and adhere to these guidelines to maintain a harmonious work environment.

  • Limitations on Alcohol Consumption: Even in counties where it's legally permissible for bar workers to take shots with customers, there may be limitations on the quantity or frequency of alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking while on duty can pose safety risks and is generally discouraged.

Common Practices:

While legal considerations are paramount, there are common practices within the industry that bar workers should be mindful of:

  • Moderation: If allowed by local regulations and establishment policies, participating in a shot with a customer should be done in moderation. Overindulgence can impair judgment and compromise the safety of both the bartender and patrons.

  • Communication: Clear communication is key. If a bartender chooses not to accept a shot offer, communicating politely and professionally is essential to maintain positive customer relations.

  • Maintaining Professionalism: Regardless of local ordinances or establishment policies, maintaining professionalism is crucial. Bar workers should prioritize their responsibilities and not let personal interactions compromise their duty to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all patrons.


Navigating the legalities of bar workers taking shots with customers in Illinois requires a comprehensive understanding of local ordinances and establishment policies. By staying informed, practicing moderation, and prioritizing professionalism, bartenders can create an enjoyable atmosphere for patrons while ensuring a legally compliant and safe working environment.
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