Starting in December, Servers and Bartenders Can Legally Drink on the Job

But only a little bit.

In other states, you can buy bartenders a shot for a job well done, or just because you're drunk and lonely.

But not in Oregon. Here, a bartender at isn't even legally allowed to sip a beer that a customer says went bad. (It didn't go "bad," by the way. Drink your beer and be quiet.)

Well, starting in December, employees at OLCC-licensed shops will be allowed to drink beer while they're working.

Just… not very much.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission made the decision to allow minimal tastings of beer, wine or cider for employees of liquor-licensed businesses. The rule change is intended to allow servers to make sure drinks are not flawed, and to facilitate server education and wine tastings.

Tastings are limited to a maximum of one ounce per serving and a maximum of six ounces total—a bit under half a beer—between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. for employees over 21.

"It's something the industry has been asking for for a while and we've been trying to look for solutions," says OLCC spokesperson Christie Scott. "Before, it was easier to enforce it. It was easier to say, 'you're drinking or you're not. But this way, it is not as black and white—but that's the point, to carve out some exceptions that make sense."

The rule doesn't apply to liquor.

"It's very limited.," she says. "it's not that they can drink on duty. They can taste on duty and only under certain circumstances."

For example, if a restaurant is doing a wine tasting, this rule allows employees to taste along with the customers. Or if a server uncorks a bottle of wine, they can taste it for quality control.

"The industry, from what we've heard through advisory committee meetings, is pleased. It's something they've been asking for for a long time," she says. "The administration now has been really open to change."

But the new rule only goes so far. There's a specific reminder that marijuana consumption is still not allowed on the premises of liquor-licensed businesses, and that it doesn't matter if a bartender is on their lunch break.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.