The detective didn't think he had to spell out what 'iced tea' means at a Chinatown restaurant after hours

Chau Chow City, 81 Essex St., learns Thursday whether it faces any penalties for an April incident in which detectives say they found four people, at least one under age, drinking alcohol-infused "tea" and playing a drinking game that is illegal in Massachusetts restaurants.

Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey and Det. William Gallagher told the Boston Licensing Board this morning that when they arrived at the restaurant for a routine inspection shortly before 2:30 a.m. on April 5, they found four young-looking people sitting in an upstairs dining room a worker had told them was closed, at a table holding plastic cups, a liter bottle of Sprite and dice. When a waiter spotted them, they said, he immediately began cleaning up the table and attempted to pour all the cups out in a sink.

But, the detectives said, they managed to grab one of the cups and take a sniff: It reeked of hard liquor.

Chau Chow City lawyer Dennis Quilty pounced: He noted that Gallagher's report specifically mentioned "iced tea" but not "Long Island iced tea," which, as everybody knows is the proper name for a liquored up brownish drink. So he questioned why Gallagher wrote "iced tea" instead of "Long Island iced tea" if he was so sure the liquid in the cup was laced with alcohol. Did the detective test the liquid? No, Gallagher said. "We did not drink it, but we did smell it."

Well, then, Quilty continued, why did the detective just write "iced tea" instead of "Long Island iced tea?" Gallagher responded that "most people" would understand what "iced tea" meant in a report about a restaurant after 2 a.m.

"It's the same thing," Gallagher said.

"It's not the same thing," Quilty retorted.

After the two somehow escaped their is/is not argument, Mulvey said the thing that concerned him most was the near complete lack of cooperation from restaurant staff, from being told initially the upstairs was closed to the waiter pouring evidence down the drain when he saw the detectives.

Quilty and a restaurant manager said the waiter - actually a busboy - barely speaks English. Quilty added he was upstairs to clean up, and that the reason he was cleaning up the table was because it was, in fact, the only one in the entire room that was occupied. He and the manager added the four went upstairs by themselves to wait for a takeout order - nobody downstairs brought them up there.

Mulvey acknowledged he did not cite the restaurant for serving the "iced tea" to the four because he does not know if it did or if they brought their own liquid refreshment. However, he said the restaurant did supply dice for a game of Liar's Dice, which he said is a popular drinking game, but illegal under state regulations in Massachusetts. He said that when he and Gallagher looked near the sink where the waiter was pouring out cups, they spotted "lots of dice."

The manager said the restaurant has since posted warning signs on the stairs about not going up without permission and is having staff keep a more active eye on the space when it's not in use.

The board could decide to take no action, issue a warning or order the restaurant to close for one or more days.



Free tagging: 


There's no tea in a Long Island Iced Tea

The recipe involves four to five kinds of clear spirits (typically vodka, white rum, silver tequila, gin, and Triple Sec orange liqueur), cola (preferably from a soda gun), and sour mix (preferably made from a crappy artificial mix).

The only kind of illegal alcohol I've ever been served in Chinatown (illegal not because I was underage or the establishment wasn't licensed, but because it was after hours) is "cold tea", not iced tea, and it's usually Chinese pilsner served in a stainless steel teapot.

If they were Chinese ex-pats gambling together, the spirit in question might have been baijiu, probably Maotai. Usually pretty strong, rough stuff. I brought a bottle back from the PRC ages ago, long gone now.

Liar's Dice is a great drinking game, especially if you've studied a little probability. Whiled away more than a few wasted college hours playing that one.

My long absence from hard liquor, sigh

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Thanks, I've updated the description of what a Long Island Iced Tea is (not sure it's better necessarily, but at least it omits the tea).

But, um, yeah, isn't the stuff you discretely ask for in Chinatown "cold tea?"

Cold Pot of Tea

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The confusion comes from the fact that all the terminology used in the reports and reports about the reports is wrong. As far as I know, if you want to be served illegal alcohol in Chinatown, you don't ask for iced tea (because you would get an iced tea) or for a Long Island Iced Tea (because that is an actual alcoholic drink, and if you are trying to do something illegal you don't just ask outright for the illegal thing), but for a cold pot of tea.

Cold Tea

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It's "cold tea", and that's usually beer served in a stainless steel teapot. Not ice tea, not Long Island Ice Tea, which are both different. Another long time Boston tradition.

It's their job

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BPD has three full-time licensing detectives (these two and a lt.) to do this sort of thing. I can't imagine showing up at restaurants at 2:30 a.m. is really, um, anybody's cup of tea.

In Defense of Resturants

I've seen the inspectors come in to do a spot check and they are total and complete dicks even if the restaurant is not at all in violation of the rules. They can be loud and bossy even when the restaurant staff if trying to do everything they want and no violations are taking place. They care little if they disrupt paying diners who are all clearly of age and just trying to eat dinner. I can think of no other government agency which outwardly acts so much like mobsters towards small business owners.

I'm in favor of checking up on license holders but I see no reason to be rude or pushy unless the establishment is clearly trying to hold back or hide as in the case of this place. And if they are going to be sticklers for the rules then I agree with argument that they shouldn't be using shorthand when filling out a report.

I'm in favor of checking up on

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license holders if there's a valid complaint against the restaurant. But this apparent mentaility of "let's pop in and randomly harass business owners see if can find any violations" is inexcusable.

Drivers aren't supposed to be pulled over because the cop thinks there "might" be a violation with the vehicle. The same standard should apply when inspecting businesses.


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What are you talking about?

If you own a car, you have to have an annual inspection because there might be a violation with your car.


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Except that I can schedule that annual inspection at a time I choose. It's not like the mafia from the RMV shows up at my door unannounced and says "We want to inspect your vehicle NOW!"

Uh huh

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Within 30 days, that is. And the logistics of lining up all millions of cars for surprise inspections?

Pick your analogy. If you keep making it more specific it will be useless as an analogy. They also don't check your car for paper towels near the wash basin for proper hygiene like they do restaurants either.

Do you want the restaurant to bring the whole restaurant to the Inspection Services office like we do with cars too? Of course not, that's silly, right?

Do we inspect restaurants? Yes. Do we inspect cars? Yes.

If a cop is driving behind you, do you think he isn't looking to verify that your stickers are up to date and don't show you as failing your last inspection? On the spot and without warning you first, no less! Right in the middle of the road! While you're even operating the car!

To the extent that restaurants and cars are things to be inspected and registered, etc., the system expects to be able to verify your inspection and registration at all times. Or do you scrape your window and take your plates inside with you whenever you park?

Going to an inspection

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Going to an inspection station at a time of your choosing is nothing like getting pulled over by a cop for a surprise inspection.


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If you think a cop won't read your license plate registration sticker to see if it's up-to-date or your inspection sticker to see it's not an "R" as a surprise just because he's driving behind you, you're deluded.


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Should be available anytime, day or night, by anybody or any establishment that wants to serve it. That's why Boston will never become a world class City like Tijuana Mexico.


I don't think he is saying that there should be no regulation or inspection.

I think the point was that the cops should at least be professional and complete in their writeup - and get their attempts at slang straight if they don't want the Quiltys of the world rubbing their noses in their casual-ass sloppiness in hearings and court.


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He is the Top Gun.. Thats a fact

About a year ago

I went there after the bars closed with some friends that were visiting for the weekend. I asked for cold tea, just for shits and giggles, and the waiter looked at me and laughed. Guess I did it wrong?

As an aside, this place has some of the best sesame chicken in town.

Try again

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You're probably not going to get cold tea the first time you ask for it. Come back to the same place, get to know the waiter, and with time, he will judge that you are not an undercover cop, and in fact will serve you what you want. That's how it works, unless you know someone already

I really didn't care that much

Emphasis on the "for shits and giggles" part. I honestly thought that asking for "cold tea" in Chinatown was equivalent to telling someone to pahk their cah in hahvahd yahd.

Illegal dice

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Why is Liars Dice "illegal under state regulations in Massachusetts" ? Which regs?

Not on its own

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Liars Dice in a restaurant that serves booze is illegal. You can't play lots of games that can "have a drinking component" or whatever if the place serves booze. It's part of the ABCC regs.