Picture the scene, 10 years on from the events immortalised in A Christmas Carol:
The reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, now beloved CEO of the highly successful Scrooge Marley Bank, has agreed that the firm should hold its office Christmas party. Greatly anticipated, and meticulously planned at a wonderful venue. A gift of seasonal goodwill from Mr Scrooge to his 200 or so colleagues; thanking them for a year of hard effort and great results. A gesture that will send everyone in the firm into the holidays and New Year feeling valued and motivated. Wonderful!
Sadly, as the party hits full swing, his nephew, Fred, now a senior partner, has become a ranting bigot after his fifth glass of champagne. The wandering hands of Bob Cratchit, now six beers in, are causing increasing distress, and Mr Fezziwig (having returned to his former firm as Non-Exec Chair) has just fallen down some stairs, after drinking who knows how much of the rather tasty claret, smashing his head on the way.
It’s enough to make poor old Scrooge consider returning to his old ways – no Christmas party and a big Bah Humbug to everyone!
But here's the thing... this isn't a new problem for Scrooge Marley Bank!
Pretty much the same thing happened last year… And the year before…
Scrooge had hoped that this year would be different. After all, he’d fired the worst offenders last year, and had avoided reputational damage with some rapidly arranged settlements and NDAs. He’d initiated an employee wellbeing programme, arranged training to ensure that everyone in the firm understood that all forms of harassment and discrimination were unacceptable, and had backed this up with a robust new set of disciplinary measures. He’d introduced drink tokens to restrict the number of drinks each person could have at the party (although that hadn’t really worked as the less enthusiastic drinkers had simply sold or given them to colleagues). He’d even arranged a side-room for people to retreat to if Bob Cratchit’s groping got out of hand again this year.
Why hadn’t it worked?! Why on earth was he now going to have to spend the first part of the New Year quietly managing senior partners out of the firm, arranging confidential settlements for distressed employees and paying Mr Fezziwig’s medical bills?
The answer to that is pretty simple.
What's in the Drinks has a Greater Impact than Policies and Training
Employers can train, lecture, legislate and even threaten as much as they like. But if they don’t think carefully about (or indeed understand) the nature of the alcoholic drinks that they are providing then the scene will be set – year after year – for the seasonal spike in embarrassing misjudgements, unfortunate injuries, offensive and discriminatory language, physical violence, harassment and sexual assault. All of it fuelled by alcohol selected, provided and paid for by them.
This is not a clarion call for alcohol-free Christmas parties. Far from it! Simply a pleas for employers to find better ways to strike the right balance between showing their employees a good time and directly facilitating high levels of inebriation, which in turn may give rise to all sorts of problems.
One piece of advice that we at Cut Classics would give is for employers to learn properly from the Ghosts of Christmas Parties Past, rather than subscribing to the collective corporate omertà that requires unsavoury incidents to be swept under the carpet as quickly and quietly as possible.
Take the time to understand the real alcohol content of different types of drink, for a start! We often hear firms say that they don’t serve strong drink at events – only champagne or wine. How can Cut Classic 20% ABV light spirits possibly offer a reduced alcohol option? After all, champagne is 12% ABV, wine – say – 13% ABV.
Reality Check - Champagne and Wine Are Strong Drinks!
Well, let’s finish by challenging that thinking a little with the following:
A glass of wine or champagne actually contains significantly more alcohol than a cocktail or long drink made using our 20% ABV spirits. Nearly four times as much alcohol as is contained in the Cut Classic G&T and three times as much as is in the cocktail.
There’s a reason why increasing numbers of UK firms have turned to Cut Classics to supply our “classic spirits with half the alcohol” for use in cocktails served at their Christmas parties. It's because we can help them to provide delicious and sophisticated cocktails with a third of the alcohol content of an equivalent-sized glass of wine!
A direct quote from the Head of Hospitality Services at a Magic Circle law firm:
“I have tried the Cut Classics rum, vodka and gin and I think we should use them automatically for things like cocktails and punches for events. They taste just as good and have half the alcohol… Anything we can do to reduce risk and prevent people from becoming inebriated I think is a good thing.”
Making Smart Decisions
Learning from those Ghosts of Christmas Parties Past isn’t just about policies, training and processes. It’s about making smart decisions like the one that the Magic Circle law firm has taken about what gets served.
Selecting lower alcohol options is a no-brainer. It still allows firms to treat their colleagues like adults, serving alcoholic drinks that deliver the expected convivial relaxation and buzz. But by materially reducing the alcohol content of each drink served they materially reduce the risk of inebriation and all that can follow.
Note on ABVs in Table
G&T assumes single 25ml serve of Cut Classic Gin is mixed with 125ml tonic. As tonic is typically provided in 150ml cans / 200ml bottles, the real ABV may be lower than shown – between 2.2% and 2.8%... but we wanted to standardise everything to 150ml size drinks here for ease of comparison, so have assumed a lower level of dilution.
The ABV of a cocktail made with Cut Classic will also vary depending upon the amount used, the level of dilution and the nature of the other ingredients. It is perfectly feasible to create delicious cocktails well below 5% ABV using Cut Classic Light Spirits.
The ABV of Champagne and Wine will, of course, vary according to the bottle being served. There are champagnes with lower and higher ABVs than those used for illustrative purposes above.