Better Drinking Culture crafts certification program


Better Drinking Culture is a “grassroots movement” that advocates “living and promoting a healthier and better drinking lifestyle.” Photo via

A local group is launching a certification program for alcohol-serving businesses to encourage responsible drinking.

Better Drinking Culture, or BDC, will launch the program this month for any establishment serving alcohol, including restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries.

The idea came from a conversation between Better Drinking Culture Founder Cam Brieden and Brewery Vivant Co-Owner Kris Spaulding about how there's no formalized way for establishments to recognize the promotion of safe drinking habits.

Brewery Vivant, along with New Holland Brewing Co. and The Gilmore Collection, are pilot members of the certification program.

Better Drinking Culture is aimed at eliminating the negative problems associated with the over consumption of alcohol, especially in young adults, according to BDC spokesperson Kelsey May.

The certification process will involve a best practices questionnaire and audit, as well as a review of employee policies and marketing materials to ensure state and federal compliance.

The organization wants alcohol consumers to enjoy beverages for their craft and taste, not to get drunk, May said.

The review will pick up on pieces that may need adjustment to be certified, including social media posts that may “glorify hangovers” or a server whose TIP Certifications have expired, May said.

The cost for certification is based on annual revenue, but it likely will run between $500 and $1,500 every two years.

Included in the cost are access and engagement with BDC certified partners and consumers, training materials and recognition from Better Drinking Culture in promotional materials and events, as well as potential discounts on insurance liability premiums.

“Hopefully, it can interest the consumers to know the restaurants want customers to be responsible,” May said. “We want to normalize that conversation between a server and customer.”

Better Drinking Culture has a goal of expanding beyond West Michigan and has college campuses among its main priorities. May said the organization is in several talks with police departments in the state, especially on college campuses.

“I’m really excited to see it grow to college campuses who want to promote healthy lifestyles and safe habits,” May said. “A lot of campuses are aware students party, but know they need to have more education about how alcohol affects different people.

“There are so few opportunities for police to establish goodwill with college students.”

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