So that’s why my glass of George T. Stagg tasted like Jack Daniel’s.

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Dave

Dave is a part-time blogger that writes about whatever suits him at the time.

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31 Responses

  1. Avatar Murali
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    says:

    rubbing alcohol has methanol in it. It is not fit for consumptionReport

  2. Avatar Dave
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    says:

    It’s amazing that no one got sick.Report

  3. Avatar Russell Saunders
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    says:

    They passed it off as SCOTCH??!?! To whom? Sniggering high school juniors who couldn’t believe their fake IDs worked?Report

  4. Avatar Jim Heffman
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    says:

    Just read “Last Call”. Eighty years on and we’re still there, apparently.Report

  5. Avatar Miss Mary
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    says:

    That’s so wrong. You never mess with someone’s alcohol. You just don’t. It’s like going into their bedroom when they’re not home and wearing their underwear. It’s just wrong.Report

  6. Avatar J@m3z Aitch
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    says:

    A few years ago a friend and I were at a bar in downtown Akron, OH, and I ordered a Makers (the best this dive had). What they served me I could not tell, but not only was it not Makers, not only was it not with any certainty bourbon, but it was not even drinkable (and I have a history of drinking my liquors neat, from vodka to tequila, so the taste of hard liquors is palatable to me). Thinking maybe I was getting I’ll and my taste buds were off, I had my friend take a taste. The look of shock on his face was priceless. The server took it back and brought the Makers bottle to the table so I could watch him pour the next one. Same thing, and this time the server tasted it as well.

    My suspicion is a bartender was giving free drinks and refilled the bottle so the boss wouldn’t notice. My best guess for what I was drinking was a mix of bourbon and some liquid cleanser.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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      says:

      That’s not unlikely in this case, too. A lot of chain bars like Applebee’s have the staff weigh all the liquor bottles periodically (can’t recall if it was nightly or weekly) and log the data into a computer. I watched them do this near closing time one evening, and it’s possible that having a few customers watch the process helps assure honesty. The employee weighing the bottles was calling out the data to the one entering the numbers into their PC, with another employee witnessing, too. I suspect such a laborious procedure would only be in place because bartenders were doing exactly what you suggested, giving out free drinks to their friends – or perhaps more likely, not ringing up sales and pocketing the difference.

      One of the greatest mass firing periods in American history was when NCR introduced the cash register and shop keepers, but especially bar owners, found out how much they’d really been selling beforehand. All the employees had to do was refill or replace the owner’s bottles to keep the owner’s own liquor purchases low enough so the apparently slow sales didn’t spark suspicion.

      I seriously doubt TGIF had a policy designed to ruin their reputation, so I suspect this scam circulated among their managers or staff.

      As an aside, if you pull up a web page for an Australian liquor store and compare prices to the US (using the usual currency converters), you’ll be struck by a sudden, overwhelming desire to understand more about trans-Pacific smuggling. “OMG, $18 here and $95 there….” leading you to start abandoning your morals, coming up with a range of self-justifications like “Holy G-d, I can pour Macallan into Evan Williams bottles and still make money!” Then you find yourself saying, “Hey, the Kennedy’s did it.”Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        As you note, weighing the bottles only ensures that the bar is not having its liquor stolen – it doesn’t detect theft of liquor *sales*. Bartenders can steal sales and have the bottle checks come out right by pouring 3/4 strength drinks and pocketing every fourth sale. It had never occurred to me that they could even buy liquor at the regular retail price, sell full-strength drinks, and still steal sales…

        They could even pour the drinks in front of the customer if they keep a watered-down bottle for that purpose.Report

      • Avatar HankP in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        Former bartender here, I never heard of anyone ever weighing bottles. Way too much labor involved, and if you have the bartenders do it they can fudge the figures anyway, let alone make mistakes. Most chains and larger bars use portion control systems, they’re the pourers with a wire attached which is connected to the point of sale system. But then I never worked anywhere that diluted or adulterated the stock either, so maybe I’ve been out of touch with current practices.Report

  7. Avatar Mark Thompson
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    says:

    This is going to ruin my foodie cred, but I go to that Ruby Tuesday all the time. I’m having a hard time seeing why they’d even try to pull a stunt like this; I can’t imagine they sell enough high end booze or even enough straight booze for adulterating it to meaningfully help their bottom line. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than three or four people sitting at the bar there.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Mark Thompson
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      says:

      Don’t worry about your food creds. As I have kids, we go to Friendly’s.

      Unless it’s a place that gets a younger crowd for whatever reason, (the TGI Friday’s in Watchung used to get that), most of the alcohol sales come from people that are there for a meal. They’ll either order from the table via their waitress or they’ll go to the bar if they are waiting to be seated.

      I went through a TGI Friday’s drink menu and there are a few drinks that have premium liquor. It’s very possible that the margaritas are big sellers, especially those with Patron. I don’t know about you but I doubt I’d be able to tell the difference if the tequila used in my margarita was Patron.

      You make a good point. Crunching numbers in my head, it’s hard for me to come up with a number that makes doing this profitable, especially given the risk.Report

  8. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    Adulterating the booze is such a common fraud: in the course of running my own bar, I quit checking the bottles directly. I instituted a maître d’ who kept an eye on the bartenders and waiters. The town had never seen anything like it: the maître d’ would instruct the customers to remark on any defect in service to him personally.

    The waiters resented the idea, at first, until they came to the obvious conclusion that better service (and better booze) kept us all in business. The staff could get as crocked as they liked, after hours. I really didn’t care, I considered it a cost of business. But not on top-shelf booze. Still, some of them would shell out their own tip money and become acquainted with the good stuff.

    Never alienate the wait staff or the cooks. But don’t let them off the hook. If you ever get the hankering to run a restaurant or a bar, get a maître d’. He’s worth every penny you’ll ever pay him.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      When I was in San Francisco a month ago, I was chatting it up with a bartender about the business in general and the conversation somehow shifted to the bar business and she was telling me how closely the maitre’d (or maybe it was just a manager I don’t recall) paid attention to the bar.

      The restaurant is part of a higher-end chain of steakhouses with a bar stocked to the gills with premium liquors (there were at least 60 to 65 whiskeys). There’s a corporate element to the operation but what you mentioned above reminded me of that conversation.

      The reason I dont’ worry about getting short-changed at a bar is because I’ll only order whiskey from bars that either cater to drinkers like myself or have knowledgable bartenders that respect the drink as much as the customer. With people like that, I know I’m not going to get screwed.

      The woman I mentioned above was that kind of person, so much so that I doubled my usual tip and left her 50%. It wasn’t a lot in terms of dollars since I only had two glasses of whiskey, but it’s my way of showing the respect people deserve.Report

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