Watch bartenders try to guess who is under 21

Originally published at:


Legal drinking age of 21? Surely that’s a sign you need to move states.


16 was the [unofficial] drinking age in New Jersey in the Old Century, and yes I abused the hell out’a it.


Purchase age, like at the bar, is 21 federally.

And this is why it isn’t the bartenders job. That is what the door man is for to check IDs and either refuse admittance, or mark hands if under 21.

The older I get the less and less I can tell people’s ages. So that is why no one relies on looks if they want to keep their liquor license.

20 years ago in high school, we had a FRESHMAN with a full on bushy beard - like hipster bushy. Didn’t look 14 at all.


I never got carded until my 18th birthday, back in the dark ages when an 18-year-old could give his life for his country and then have a beer. Good thing they raised that to 21, and now there are no drunk drivers.


I got 6/10 right. I make a wicked awesome Manhattan. Do I get the job?


In the UK it’s the bar tender who gets prosecuted for serving alcohol to an under-age person.
Where I first worked though the unofficial age was 16 or so, so we never ID’d anyone. In jobs since, where I’ve been warned that there might be police I’d just ask for ID from everyone who looked under thirty.
Some people hate getting ID’d, not sure why, I’m happy on the increasingly rare occasions people assume that I’m fifteen years younger than I actually am.


I am 43. I cannot grow facial hair worth a damn. I have a total baby face. No one ever thinks I “look” like I am in my 40’s. But every pegs me as former military.

I don’t think I had been carded since I was in my mid twenties until this just a few years ago:

Last time it happened was when my spouse and I went to a liquor store. She had two bottles of wine, I had a handful of high end 22oz beers. They asked for my ID as I stood there to buy, then asked for hers. She said “I didn’t bring my purse with me, so I do not have it…but he is buying, why do you need mine?” They insisted that both of us needed to present them as we were there together. I looked at the cashier and said “Wait a second…I am 40 as you can see by my driver’s license. This is my wife. Our 3 kids are sitting in the car outside who are 13, 10, and 6. DO THE MATH!”

Needless to say, she insisted on my wife showing ID as if somehow I was married to a woman under 21 who managed to give birth to our oldest when she was 7. I told them “You just lost a customer permanently.”


Do all bars in the US have a doorman?

In Canada, I basically only encounter a doorman

  • at a club where there’s cover charge to hear the band / DJ (at the big places there’s often a sort of cattle-chute arrangement with ID check, cover charge, pat down, coat check in a row before getting access)
  • under circumstances where they need to take action to stay below the fire code limit (hockey game night near the arena, weekend near the university) (generally I avoid these situations, as I don’t like screaming across the table just to be heard)

At something more like a normal pub, where you just go to have beer and snacks and chat, I don’t believe I’ve seen a doorman.


I was going to some really divey bars in NY at 14 - they’d probably have let toddlers in. Legal age was 18. I remember going to a regular place for my 18th & the bartender asked how old I was. He was not amused.


That’s the fun thing, no it’s not. It’s just that the federal government passed a law that cuts all highway funds for any state that sets their drinking age below 21. Any state is free to set their drinking age to whatever they like. They’ll just get roasted by their constituents if its older than 21 and will lose millions (or even billions) of dollars in federal funds if they set it lower. (this happened when I was a teenager and approaching the then legal drinking age in my state so I’m quite aware of it)


I have a friend who is 22 and can and does routinely pass for 8 or 9 (as in when she goes into a restaurant with her 11 year old cousin, she’s gets offered a kids menu and he doesn’t). I really want to watch her walk into a bar but she’s decided she doesn’t want to deal with it.


Booyah…100%! Helps to have teenagers with friends, and to sing in a large group with a lot of people right around that cusp of young adulthood.


When I was a bartender I carded anyone who looked younger than thirty, just to be safe. The only people who got irked about having their IDs checked were twenty-one and twenty-two year olds. Go figure.


On the opposite scale, I just turned 65 and try to claim seniors discount where ever I go. Most don’t believe me and want to see some ID. Either that or they are just being nice.


As if he hadn’t done the same…

1 Like

I don’t think this is true. It’s 21 years old across the board, but I think technically the states did that. There were issues with kids crossing state lines to states where they could legally drink, then getting totally blitzed and getting into car accidents on the way home. So, the Department of Transportation under Elizabeth Dole pressured all states to unilaterally up the drinking age to 21, IIRC.

Hmm. For me, the older I get, the more people younger than me appear really young to me. 30 years old? Might as well be 12, I can’t tell the difference anymore.

There was a kid in my high school class who was full-on horseshoe bald by the time he was 15. There was another kid in my sister’s class who was the same way. Those guys never got carded, ever.


It’s a federal drinking age by another name. If it walks and quacks like a federal drinking age why pretend it isn’t.


I can and do grow facial hair, and have had a full beard more or less continuously since I was in my early 20s. However, I still have a baby face, which is precisely why I grew the beard. Even with the beard and receding hairline, I look mid-20s and not nearly 40.

That’s not to be taken as a humblebrag. I’m seriously sick of it.

Pro tip for the young ladies: When you buy alcohol underage, bring an older male friend and some kids with you, the clerks will automatically assume you’re a wife and mother and not even question it :confused:


Many do. There doesn’t have to be a big cattle chute and security check deal. Although if there’s live music, there almost certainly will be. It doesn’t even have to be a good band, just college kids playing what they think is reggae or some shit like that.

A good rule of thumb is that if it’s a place where one can conceivably also get a meal, there won’t be a doorman*. If it’s a bar only, there will be a doorman. If there’s live music, there will most assuredly be a doorman, even if there’s also food.

*Notable exception: Indiana., where you have to be 21 to even get into a restaurant that serves alcohol.