The restaurant industry is fast-paced, grueling, and ruthless to say the least. The combination of handling food and drinks plus managing customer experiences and expectations can be stressful and demanding on the mind and body. Therefore, it’s no surprise that after a long night of service, the ultimate respite is the shift drink – an alcoholic beverage served after the completion of a restaurant shift.

Shift drinks are served to staff after the day has ended.

Different restaurants have varying policies with regards to the shift drink, with many places ruling them out completely because of liability issues and reformation of industry culture. But while drinking on the job is sometimes frowned upon, the shift drink (key difference being its consumption after work hours) is a well-deserved break after a long day of work. Shift drinks range from cold beers to quick shots of Fernet Branca, with the main purpose of providing a quick dose of R&R during closing.

The consumption of alcohol “during” work can get a bad reputation in the industry because of its indulgent and hedonistic nature, but the shift drink isn’t exactly a pre-party for the afterparty. Rather, this libation allows for team bonding since reviews of the shift usually happen simultaneously. It’s also a chance for servers, food runners, and bartenders to get familiar with samples or products that they wouldn’t normally come across. It allows staff to feel rewarded for the day’s work and when consumed in moderation, the shift drink is good motivation to persevere through the rest of the week.

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