If you are like me and have been bartending for quite some time the idea of taking an in-person class truly sounds like a waste when I can just re-test online. But what about the new bartenders and servers entering the industry?
Utah, without a doubt, has some very antiquated and confusing liquor laws. In a recent conversation with the assistant attorney general of the UDABC; he agreed with my thoughts regarding the laws saying that the laws definitely could use an update but their strictness is based on serious offense caused by people in the industry. The most common offenses are serving to minors and over-serving. It is a knee jerk reaction to think that these offenses are easily avoidable and you're right!
Not serving to minors is a NO BRAINER! However, I ask you to remember the last time your ID was thoroughly checked? For me, it was the last time I was at Smith's buying cold medicine for my dude. The lady questioned if it was me because apparently, I look older on my ID. Many liquor-serving establishments have invested in scanners and readers, but in my experience, it's still not enough to prevent a minor from being served.
Over-serving is a lot easier than you think especially when serving those not from Utah. Yes, Utah requires liquor serving establishments to pour out of a mechanism called a Berg or Clicker. This measures the pour but that's it. These mechanisms don't monitor how drinks you have served to a particular customer within a time frame nor do they cut off a patron who has had too much. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of the bartenders and servers.
Both in-person and online TIPS certification courses teach you about how to prevent serving to a minor, over serving and other situations that you will encounter. The question is which one is the most beneficial?
If you are a new bartender or server...
If you are new to the industry, I cannot recommend enough investing in the in-person TIPS certification course. The course really is an investment because it is typically $45-$75 for the 5-hours long course. The course covers literally EVERYTHING (except how to make cocktails). The purpose is to stress the importance of proper serving, the importance of the laws and practice for situations the will 100% happen. Yes, the class is super long (5 whole hours!) However, having taken both I took advantage of the opportunity to have a hands-on experience that has ultimately made me a more prepared and better bartender.
If you are an established bartender or server (like 2-4 years)...
Recertifying can be a pain in the butt! If you are like me if you do not have a reminder I do not remember to take the test again. In Utah, there isn't a recertification test you can take. You are forced to take the class again. That is why most bartenders and servers opt for the online course. Many people rush through the lessons not paying attention to the DABC laws have most likely changed. If you feel comfortable with your skill and understanding of the DABC law than taking the course online may be the way for you. If you want the opportunity to ask questions, participate with a group the in-person class is for you.
The TIPS certification is a vital part of proper and responsible serving in Utah. I highly encourage new and established bartenders who want to better their skill and improve the industry to make the most of what the TIPS certification program has to offer.