At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch. In another, premium liquor bottles were refilled with water - and apparently not even clean water at that... [New Jersey] officials provided those new details Thursday on raids they conducted a day earlier as part of a yearlong investigation dubbed Operation Swill.
Twenty-nine New Jersey bars and restaurants, including 13 TGI Fridays, were accused of substituting cheap booze - or worse - for top-shelf brands while charging premium prices.
...As part of Operation Swill, investigators collected 1,000 open bottles of vodka, gin, rum, scotch, whiskey and tequila from the wells of the bars... [the operation] started after the state began receiving more complaints than usual about possibly mislabeled drinks, said the director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Michael Halfacre.
An informant with knowledge of the industry contacted the agency in the fall to help in the investigation, he said... In January and February, investigators went to 63 establishments they suspected were scamming liquor customers... They ordered drinks neat - that is, without ice or mixers - and then covertly took samples for testing.
...The undercover inspectors tested vodka brands such as Grey Goose and Ketel One; scotch, such as Johnny Walker Black and Dewar’s; and Jose Cuervo Silver and Gold tequila. Of 150 samples collected, 30 were not the brand as which they were being sold.
This practice is an unconscionable betrayal of trust on the part of a restaurateur. Chains like T.G.I. Friday's that engaged in the practice, franchises notwithstanding, will have to prove they're doing the right thing on a national basis.
Hat tips: Weasel Zippers via the BadBlue News Service.
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