Shift Drinks Explained

Portland Daily Sun columnist Natalie Ladd gives a behind the scenes look an aspect of restaurant life, rules around shift drinks.

The employee shift drink is a slippery slope because management sanctioned or not, it is going to happen. Many, but not all restaurant employees will drink alcohol after, during and upon rare occasion, before a scheduled shift. Recognizing this to be true and accepting the inevitable, many managers and owners have policies that read something like this, “Each employee may have one draft or well beverage after their shift. Each drink must be rung up on a house tab. Employees may not sit at the bar during hours of service. Employees may not pour their own shift drink. Employees may only have one drink per evening. Employees may not sit at the bar in uniform and drink. Employees must be punched out before having a shift drink.” And, so on and on as it’s the stuff lined birdcages are made of.