Most adults understand the concept of responsible drinking, at least until they have a few drinks.
Helping people be responsible for their alcohol use is at least, in part, the responsibility of the host.
More simply, "don't be a pour host," said David Grayson, who helped put together guidelines for responsible hosting during a brainstorming session for the Automobile Club of Southern California.
"We took into account human physiology and other elements of a drinking environment," said Grayson, but in the end the guidelines were the result of some "very, very subjective criteria."
Every party, Grayson said, is as different as the people in attendance.
So, the following suggestions from the auto club are just that. They don't apply in all situations:
- Make non-alcoholic beverages available and be certain that everyone knows where they are.
- Help guests pace their drinks. The liver can metabolize only one drink per hour. Don't rush to fill glasses. If guests wish to sip drinks, let them.
- Serve tempting foods throughout the evening but avoid offering salty or highly seasoned foods and snacks, as these make your guests thirsty.
- Remember that beer, wine and hard liquor all pack the same punch per drink. A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine and a typical 1 1/2-ounce serving of hard liquor (straight or in a mixed drink) all have the same amount of alcohol and the same intoxicating potential. Beer and wine merely have more water added to the alcohol in each serving.
- Mix spiked punches with a non-carbonated base. Alcohol is absorbed by the body much faster when combined with a carbonated mixer. Fruit juice or tea are preferable bases for alcoholic punches or mixed drinks.
- Focus attention on food. Food slows the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. High-protein foods such as cheese and meats are especially good because they stay in the stomach longer. A tray of crisp vegetables with a sour cream or cream cheese dip is also good.
- Divert attention away from the bar. Keep guests circulating with games, conversation or dancing. Set an example yourself and don't overindulge.
- Stop serving alcoholic beverages about an hour before the party is to end. Bring out a tempting non-alcoholic hot or cold drink in addition to the coffee or tea.
- Encourage one person in each group to be a designated driver. Award a small gift to the individual or group or couple who decides not to drink and thereby assure a safe ride home for other guests.
- Use normal-size portions or less for drinks. Do not pour stiff, or strong, drinks. A one-ounce jigger is considered normal.
- Persuade guests who have had too much to drink to stay over, or call them a cab.