Friday, December 23, 2005

End of the free drink

Literally. - Short glasses hold stronger drinks, study says - Dec 23, 2005: "The so-called portion distortion illusion that causes people to misjudge volume based on container shapes is well established. But Wansink wanted to find out if training could correct the bias.

Researchers recruited 198 students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pour 1 1/2-ounce shots from a bottle into one of two types of glasses: tall and slender or short and wide. Students poured 30 percent more into the stubby glasses than the tall glasses. Even a subgroup of students with 10 practice pours made the misjudgment.

Experienced bartenders did better, but not by much. Eighty-six Philadelphia bartenders asked to pour out shots on the job put 20 percent more into the short glasses. Bartenders asked to pay careful attention to their task were a bit more on target.

In cases where more booze was poured into taller glasses, the amount was negligible.

Wansink concludes that the pour-more-in-short-glass effect is only slightly reduced by practice, concentration or experience.

That extra splash of alcohol per glass can add up. Drinking a quarter more alcohol per drink could even skew calculations of bar patrons and partygoers trying to stick to one cocktail an hour.

Wansink suggests measuring out shots -- or using tall glasses.

Baylor College of Medicine obesity researcher John Foreyt, who was not involved in the study, said he was surprised that even experienced bartenders fell prey to portion distortion. He said the study underscored the need for people to be careful not to underestimate their intake, be it alcohol or food.

Wansink said the effect also could skew epidemiological studies since alcohol consumption per glass could be underrepresented by a quarter. Not to mention the financial implications for bars and restaurants if bartenders are overgenerous, even unintentionally."
Financial implications. Bar saves a little money at first, bartender loses tips, regulars find somewhere else to drink, bartender finds anothe job, bar closes.

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