Watch Bartenders Try and Fail to Guess Whether Patrons Are Underage

It's a bit worrisome.

“Getting carded” (and, subsequently, getting rejected): It’s practically a rite of passage for American college students—and even now that we’re of-age, it’s an all-too-embarrassing memory. We’d nervously head to our favorite college bar, fake ID in tow, eyes sheepsihly downcast...only to be told, “No way, kid. Go home.”

Sure, sometimes we'd get a free pass. Still, we’re pretty sure we’d have had way more luck were the bartenders in this video the ones manning the door. Because there’s no getting around it: When they’re asked to determine whether a random person is underage or legal, these folks fail. Miserably.

In the video from Cut, a digital production company, five bartenders are put to the test to see whether they can accurately guess the approximate ages of potential customers. At the outset of the clip, they’re interviewed briefly, and each takes their turn explaining to the off-camera producer why they think they do, in fact, have great age-determining skills. According to these barkeeps, the tell-tale signs of an illegal patron include body language, general appearance, and “you just get a sense.”

(We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here and assume they normally also scan their patrons’ IDs.)

The first “customer” presented for their assessment, Hawk, gets a thorough inspection from all the bartenders. “I’m gonna say he’s 21 or over,” says one. 

Hawk is 20.

Later, “Instincts are telling me that she’s over 21,” one bartender declares confidently...referring to Kennedy, age 19.

The bartenders try every trick in the book: surveying the customer’s outfit, observing his or her walking style, and even checking for grey hairs. But they’re nearly always duped. 

Of course, there is the matter of Christian, age 18. His tattoo very obviously reveals his age, reading: “1998 to infinity.” Nice try, Christian. 

In the end, after the real ages of all participants are revealed, one of the bartenders offers up a defensive explanation with a laugh: “The whole difference from this to working is that if there’s any slightest doubt, I card.”

We’ll just have to take their word for it. 

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