Can You Trust Bartenders to Cut You Off?

When you wake up on Saturday morning with a pounding headache, is that hangover your fault or your bartender's? According to a recent study, bartenders are more likely to over-serve female patrons than male patrons. Or at least, that's how things apparently tend to work in Norway.

During the study, scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Alcohol and Drug Research enlisted the help of nine theater students who "drunkenly" went to over 150 bars in Norway's three largest cities. What they found was that although Norwegian law prohibits bartenders from serving anyone who is visibly intoxicated, the actors were still served 82 percent of the time. And for women, that number was even higher.

"Over-serving was more likely at late hours, in venues where most patrons were clearly intoxicated, in venues where the music level was high, and when the pseudo-intoxicated patron was female," the study explains. In fact, when all these risk factors were all present at once, clearly intoxicated female customers were served a whopping 95 percent of the time.

Now, here in the US there is no national law forbidding bars from serving intoxicated patrons, but most states have their own laws to that effect — the exceptions being Nevada and Florida, presumably because of Las Vegas and, well, Florida. Never the less, much like in Norway, over-serving still happens all the time, and given that, it is reasonable to assume that the same tendency to over-serve women would likely be found here as well.

At the very least, though, the trend is clearly present in Norway. So what does it say that bartenders are more willing to over-serve women? My guess is that it has something to do with the fact that most bars and clubs like to have a sizable population of women, drunk or otherwise, to attract male customers — and presumably that desire for profit trumps concern for women's safety in this instance. But the discrepancy could also perhaps be explained by bartenders' concern that drunk male patrons might cause trouble if they continue to drink, or maybe bartenders are more likely to simply over-estimate how drunk male patrons are.

Regardless, it seems that if you do wake up with that pounding headache after a night on the town, it might be at least a little bit the fault of your bartender. But when it comes to dealing with the hangover over, that one's all on you.

Image: Giphy