November 01, 2018

Not guilty your honour, blame the bartender!

Source: Qantas

Many people will be familiar with this scenario: You head out for a midweek drink and it turns into a few more than you intended.

Before you know it you’re nursing a hangover as you head into work the next day. Ouch!

But what if you got so drunk you ended up in hospital, couldn’t do your job and got fired as a result?

That’s what happened to a Qantas flight attendant who patronised one New York City bar. Not only did he end up vomiting and collapsed in the bar's bathrooms – he then proceeded to hospital where his visit cost Qantas $20,000.

The following day he had to inform his manager he was too unwell to work his scheduled flight and, consequently lost his job.

However, now imagine that instead of drinking the five drinks you thought you bought, you actually consumed the equivalent of 14 standard drinks.

Was free-pouring to blame?

According to The Australian, Mr Urso recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.187 while at the hospital.

"Mr Urso claims that, unknown to him, his three peach martinis and two gin and tonics were "free poured" at the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar in Manhattan." according to a report in the Australian Financial Review.

Clinton Weir free-pouring

Mr Urso is now challenging a Fair Work Commission ruling that he was fairly dismissed. In his appeal, Mr Urso claims he has been held responsible for consuming 14 drinks despite uncontested evidence he consumed five drinks.

Here in Australia, if you want to work in the hospitality industry and you will be serving alcohol, then it is mandatory to hold a current accredited Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) certificate. But he was drinking in the US, where the laws are obviously different.

So who should be to blame?

Should the flight attendant not have known how intoxicated he was getting? After all, it was his responsibility to ensure he didn't risk his job by drinking the night before he was due to work, right?

Certainly, Qantas thought so accusing Urso of "serious misconduct, claiming he had drunk an “excessive amount of alcohol”, and breached the airline’s policies and procedures for cabin crew members" Source: Paddle Your Own Kanoo

But, Iphone video evidence recorded by a flight attendant union official showed the bar staff free-pouring cocktails.

Time Volume
.5 Second  5 mL or ⅙ Oz
 1 Seconds  10 mL or ⅓ Oz
 2 Seconds  20 mL or ⅔ Oz
 3 Seconds  30 mL or 1 Oz


As you can see from the above, every 0.5 seconds of pouring time equates to 5mL (1/6 Oz) of extra alcohol being poured. So how could the bartender really be sure that they were pouring the exact measure?

Would this have happened if standard measure pouring had been applied by the bartender? The commission heard Mr Urso had two peach martinis and three gin and tonics. Yet, the alcohol in the flight attendant’s blood alcohol reading is contradictory to these being standard pours.

Want to protect yourself?

If the bartender had measured the shots in those cocktails, they would have stayed within the standard pour, thereby removing any question over the amount of alcohol in them. 

As we see it, the only way to alleviate this problem is by combining a reliable speed pourer with an accurate jigger. Not only does it mean a bartender will be adhering to RSA standards, it also means they are providing the customer with consistency.

Whatever side of the fence you sit on, one thing is for sure – a measured cocktail leaves no margin for error, and no blame on your hands.

Überbartools™ use innovative design to ensure the perfect pour every time. Click here to see the full range in our catalogue.