Truth be known, I love cutting people off. When you cut a customer off, you never know what kind of reaction you're going to get. You're dealing with a combustible mix of alcohol, ego, mental instability, a ravaged hippocampus, addiction, poor judgment and-well, in other words, what you generally have when you cut someone off is a dumb, ugly, drunk, insecure, clueless, (usually male) drug addict who is being denied access to his drug, and any minute all hell might break loose. Slinging barstools and whatnot. Which is exactly why it is crucial to know what you're doing when you're doing the cut-off dance with an inebriated customer.
Ed Decker's Guide to the Art and Skill of Cutting Off
1. Protect the Almighty Liquor License (ALL): It is important for the up-and-coming cutter-offer to understand the underlying mission. The mission is to protect the ALL. ALL is the divine overseer. ALL is all-encompassing. It is the entity that allows your coworkers and your boss and your customers to exist. But like all gods, ALL is vulnerable. And one of the greatest risks to the ALL is the Dumb Ugly Drunk (DUD). Because DUDs start fights and wreck cars and are serious threats to the ALL, which, as I said, must be protected at all costs.
2. Recognition: The next order of business is deciding who/when to cut off. Since the law says you can't serve anyone who is visibly intoxicated, you can basically toss that law out the window. It's an obtuse law written by obtuse people who have wouldn't know the difference between a buzz and a buzzard if it was sitting on his stomach dining on his entrails. Instead, I recommend you use the DUD checklist:
* Is the customer Dumb?
* Is he Drunk?
* Is he Ugly (By Ugly, I mean ugly spirited-as in nasty, deceptive, rude or violent).
If you can answer yes to any two of the above questions, then you have a cut-off scenario. But it must be at least two. One is not enough. For instance, you can be Drunk in my bar if you're not Dumb or Ugly. You can be Ugly, if not Drunk or Dumb. Ditto Dumb. You can be Drunk or you can be Dumb but you can't be Drunk and Dumb. Ditto Ugly. Ditto Dumb. But you can't be Dumb and Ugly. Ditto Drunk and Dumb. And for chrissake, don't serve the Drunk and Ugly. Hell no. Not in my bar. Drunk Ugly is the worst. Drunk Ugly is Ugly squared. If you want to be Drunk and Ugly, go to the Arizona Cafe.
3. Don't Antagonize: When it's time to cut off, do it as quietly and privately as possible. Don't make a spectacle out of the cut-offee. Remember, he is highly combustible. When he gets all fidgety and snippy, tell him it's no big deal to get cut off. Tell him that you yourself have been cut off a dozen times. Tell him that if you don't get cut off from time to time, you ain't doing it right. Tell him, “Ohh, look at the pretty colors flashing on the stage, pretty pretty soooothing pretty colors” and “How about a complimentary coffee, sir? May I call you a cab, get you a glass of water, a bar towel to wipe the drool?” If after all that it still gets ugly and the stools still get slung, well whipppee! You did your best. It's out of your hands now. There's nothing left but to leap in the fracas and manhandle one of the easiest creatures on God's blue earth to manhandle: The Roiling Inebriated.
4. No Power-tripping: For whatever reason, there is a sick, co-dependant power hierarchy between the dealer and the addict. At some point, every bartender becomes seduced by this absurd power and it is ultimately up to the bartender to reject that seduction. But remember, rookie bartender, this is not as easy it sounds. Bartenders, as a class, are prone to power trips-because a bartender is hardly more than a glorified 7-11 clerk. We didn't do college, we have no skills, no goals. We are, in a word, powerless. Bartenders are a powerless lot who accidentally stumbled into a little power, and like all good powerless power mongers, eventually you abuse that power. You start to cut folks off because you don't approve of how they tip, or how they dress or socialize or what music they play on the jukebox, and you find that you have become this pathetic little power-gluttonous booze fascist, which is really the antithesis of what it means to be a bartender.
In summary, I'd like to remind the coming-up bartender that you are the Boozemeister, and being the Boozemeister comes with responsibilities-such as the well-being of your customers, your fellow employees and the ALL; to remind you to comport yourself with professionalism (if not a little compassion) while cutting-offing; and to remind you to keep your stinking, steaming egos at bay-because there is nothing so pathetic as a puny-minded bartender on an overblown power-trip.