Bars put on notice: No more young women in blue dresses handing out free bottles of beer to dudes

An Anheuser-Busch promotion to get men to try Bud Light Platinum by having young women hand them bottles of the stuff at a downtown club went awry when one of the men who accepted a bottle turned out to be a plainclothes detective well versed in the Massachusetts regulation that prohibits free samples of alcoholic beverages.

Gem, 44 Province St., finds out later this week whether the Boston Licensing Board will punish it for the April 11 incident that involved a Dallas promotion company that specializes in "sampling campaigns."

Det. William Gallagher told the board this morning that he and partner Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey, went into Gem around 11:30 p.m. for a routine inspection. Gallagher said a young woman in a blue dress, one of a gaggle of young women in blue dresses, promptly handed him a bottle of Bud Platinum from a cooler filled with bottles of the stuff at one of the club's tables. Gallagher did not specify the shade of blue the women wore, but presumably it matched that of the cobalt blue used on Bud Light Platinum bottles.

Club managers acknowledged the presence of Platinum-swilling women in blue dresses and said they were there for a promotion in which they would all sit around a table drinking Bud Platinums throughout the night and entice men to chat with them so that they could be educated on the wonders of Bud Platinum - which consists chiefly of having a higher alcohol content than regular Bud.

But the managers said the women were not actually handing out "free" beer. For one thing, the promoter paid the club for 66 bottles of Bud Platinum. For another, the women were only supposed to have one or two on hand at a time - and not give out any free samples, which might cut into the club's beer take.

Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati-Ferrer didn't buy that for a second. "You think seven females would drink 66 Bud Platinums?" she asked.

She then asked Gallagher and Mulvey how many bottles of Bud Platinum were in the cooler on the table at the time they walked in. Mulvey estimated about 20 - with another 10 on the way - which Ferrer noted would be over the two beers per person that is the maximum allowed for a patron to have at one time under state law.

"Looking the other way does not exempt you (from regulations)," she said.

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Comments

Good thing

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Good thing we've recently solved all of our cities other problems so that we can devote two of our fine detectives to perform such a valuable service for our city.

Seriously though, I thought Marty Walsh was pro-night life and was going to cut this useless crap out.

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They do more than just look for free beer

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They do periodic inspections of establishments to also make sure they aren't bolting their rear exits shut (there was another place up for that) or overcrowding (another place with a licensed capcity of 35 or so had 77 people inside), etc., etc.

You'd think inspections would be a good thing in the city that gave us Coconut Grove. Three full-time detectives on a police force of 1,200 people doesn't seem excessive to me.

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Coconut Grove is a horrible

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Coconut Grove is a horrible comparison to this situation. Dying in a massive nightclub fire is MUCH preferable to drinking Bud Platinum.

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1942

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Too soon?

YES

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I wholeheartedly concur.

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Inspections

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Aren't inspections like overcrowding and fire doors part of the fire code and therefore BFDs responsibility? My point being that if BFD was doing the inspection (as they should) they wouldn't concern themselves with a couple of people getting a free bud light

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The problem isn't the city

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The problem isn't the city inspectors or the mayor. The problem is the crazy state laws prohibiting things like simple promotional giveaways, happy hours, etc.

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What's wrong with the police

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What's wrong with the police doing their jobs????
Getting rid of happy hour (two for one drinks) was to combat all the drinking and driving going on at the time. and also cutting down on underage people going into clubs. I know because I was one of them - had a fake id at 14 (YES 14) that I got directly from the REGISTRY OF MOTOR VEHICLES using a relative's paperwork.
A spot check making sure bars are on the up and up and keeping the safety of their patrons priority above and beyond just making money - is important.

Not excessive

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I'd agree and don't really have a problem with this level of staffing, but is this the best use of our police resources? Wouldn't somebody from ISD be a better option - bureaucratic jurisdictional fiefdoms and current dysfunction of ISD aside? Same would actually go for the cabs - are these compliance issues necessarily a police function?

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Yes...

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If they were inspecting rear exits, etc instead of policing how many beers a person had in their hand, or whether beer companies were doing promotions (heaven forbid someone get a free/cheap beer in Boston), they might be able to cover twice as much ground in a given night.

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Um, but they are

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Also on today's board agenda: Quality Liquors, 489 Cambridge St., Allston, for "blocked egress," which one of the detectives explained meant they had padlocked a rear exit. Also: Sheesha Lounge, on Cambridge St., for having a blocked rear exit (not padlocked, but blocked with a cleaning cart). Then there was Curtain's Roadside Tavern on Tremont Street, which was found with 77 people inside even though they have a licensed capacity of just 37.

So they're not just looking for what you might think is stupid stuff (granted, the Shannon Tavern in South Boston was cited for having its licenses on a clipboard, instead of prominently mounted on a wall somewhere).

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Well good for them,

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But for the time it took for them to write up the Shannon and checking out the girls at the Bud table, they probably could have inspected a few more places for things that really matter (blocked exits). Sure, it may be a state law that you can't give away beer, but the level of enforcement is really up to the department.

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Question

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Did the Shannon Tavern have to appear before the board? Did they have to pay an attorney?

Yes they did and no they didn't

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Yes, they appeared before the board - they actually had three violations, on separate occasions. One was the clipboard thing, the other were more serious (patron allowed to leave with a beer and patrons found drinking beer well after its 1 a.m. licensed closing time). They didn't bring a lawyer with them.

But, also, yes, bars, restaurants and hotels that fail to have their licenses displayed where the public can see them are routinely called before the board to explain themselves, even if that is their only infraction.

One of the really, truly, incredibly stupid things is when an establishment is cited for not having a current license on display and then it turns out they paid for one but ISD was slow in sending an inspector out and then the police show up and cite them. The board finally decided to let establishments post a copy of the canceled check they got back on paying for whatever the permit is, but, geez, guys, is ISD so backwards they don't have a computer system on which, say, a police officer could check to see whether somebody's paid for a license but just hasn't gotten it yet, through no fault of their own?

The other really, truly incredibly stupid thing, which I haven't seen lately, so maybe they finally fixed it, is when some poor immigrant who started a restaurant is called before the board for not having a food-serving license and the explanation they give is that they went to ISD and got their health and occupancy permits and then they ask ISD if there's anything else they need and ISD says "nope" and then they find out, when a police officer comes calling for an inspection that, oops, ISD should have told them they also need a food-serving license.

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Thank Gosh

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Thank gosh you go to these meetings Adam.. so we don't have too.

Gee and such fine notes too.. you know, I'm hiring a Admin Assistant for myself? Interested? I need someone who can talk and type as fast as I can. You could be "Adam the Admin Assistant!"

;)

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If a fellow wants to leave a

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If a fellow wants to leave a bar with a bear (or a cougar for that matter), that should be his business.

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Entertainment License Issues

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One anecdote. I was visiting a very small financial district pizza place for a slice while working late. This place had two employees, six seats, no liquor license, and no loud music playing. As it was the Bruins playoff, they had a 32 inch tv showing the game above the oven.

Two plainclothes licensing cops came in and brusqely demanded to the 17 year old behind the counter where their entertainment license was for showing live sporting events on the television.

This, not barred egress doors, is what people get concerned about when thinking about appropriately allocating the time of highly paid police officers.

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Oh, yeah, a whole separate issue

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Why Boston has two separate licensing boards - the one whose meetings I tend to go to and Patricia Malone's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, which handles entertainment and, gasp, dancing.

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I can remember many nights at

I can remember many nights at a bar on Boylston after a few beers and with good music playing, dancing with a few friends and being told to knock it off because they didn't have a license for that. I thought they were joking. Guess not!

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Ahh for the good old days.

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I remember back around 1987, WBCN used to have free lunch-time concerts at The Metro (now the House of Blues.) The shows were sponsored by Miller and as you walked in they'd hand you a free Miller beer. Harmless inexpensive fun.

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#Hero

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Thank god we have hero's like these patrolling the local watering holes making sure no legal adults are handed a single free bud light sample. Can you imagine the chaos that may have ensued if not for this high quality undercover work?

.... meanwhile there is a pattern of college kids turning up in local waterways, but nothing to see there, BPD cracking down on the real criminals.

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Because this is the only

Because this is the only officer in the entire PD and is responsible for the policing the entire city.

Reactionaries are so stupid and short sighted.

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They're working on this, too

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So, you don't think there is a relationship between college kids ending up in local waterways and the imbibing of large quantities of amber colored liquids? Oh, what an interesting place you live in!

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I think that there is

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I think that there is absolutely a correlation between unsolved violent crimes and using officers to hand out ticky-tack fines. It's all about the allocation of resources and as with anything else in this city, it's all about getting paid.

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And I think that there have been

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Many cases over the past 350 years of young men getting drunk and falling into the water in Boston. And my theory has been borne out, unless you claim that there is a 370 year old serial killer on the loose.

Therefore, according to my theory, having the police make sure cute blonds aren't getting these guys drunk on free beer is a good thing.

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Do all these drunks falling

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Do all these drunks falling into the rivers have cinderblocks chained to their ankles, or is that just a side effect of the newer microbrews?

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As they say

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Citations?

All I know is that it seems like whenever a body is fished out of the harbor, someone here (maybe you, but I am not sure) insists that foul play occurred, yet I have yet, in recent times, to read of a body weighted down with cinder blocks. Okay, maybe once, and whatever they fished out of the Charles yesterday WAS foul play, but still, drunks have been falling into the harbor and drowning since before I was legal, and since before Ben Franklin was drinking here, too.

And, as others have noted, the BPD has an entire division dedicated to homicide.

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Still waiting for examples

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Unless you in fact have no recent examples of weighted down bodies being fished out of the harbor.

Whitey used to bury the bodies. As long as you dig a deep enough hole, it's the best way.

Finally the Licensing Board

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Finally the Licensing Board does something to justify it's existence: protecting the public from horrible Anheuser-Busch products.

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Dukakis

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He took the Happy out of Happy Hour.

It would be funny if a bar advertised "happy hour", but only to get people to show up and participate in yet another bunch of people dancing to Happy video.

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"Board Chairwoman Nicole

"Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati-Ferrer didn't buy that for a second. "You think seven females would drink 66 Bud Platinums?" she asked."

Apparently the Chairwoman hasn't met my wife and her friends back in their prime.

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Why are free samples of beer

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Why are free samples of beer illegal but not wine or spirits, both of which I have had in MA?

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Perhaps they're permitted differently?

I went to a free Johnny Walker tasting event at a hotel and proceeded to get totally trashed by drinking my samples plus the ones for the next seat over that didn't show up. It was all free - I have to imagine since it was an invitation only affair they were OK. I thought there was a special "tasting" exemption as well? I know the liquor stores in Arlington do wine/beer tastings frequently.

The law only bans carbonated

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The law only bans carbonated alcoholic beverages? They should just stick to giving away whiskey and cask beer then.

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Wine Tastings?

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Never saw an undercover bust the store near me that does wine tastings every Friday night.

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Presumably retailers with

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Presumably retailers with package sales licenses are under different laws than bars with serving licenses.

But wine stores have free

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But wine stores have free tastings all the time, and liquor stores have hard alcohol samples as well.

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I should know this ...

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But I suspect there are probably different rules for liquor stores and bars/restaurants, just like there are different licenses for them.

From the ABCC FAQ

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33. Do restaurants, hotels, function halls and package stores need to meet certain requirements while conducting a wine tasting, malt beverages and spirit tastings?

Yes. Restaurants, hotels, and function halls holding wine, malt beverages and spirits tasting must provide food with the alcoholic beverages and they must not solicit orders for any off-premises consumption. The manager of the restaurant, hotel, or function hall is responsible for controlling the dispensing of the alcoholic beverages and the size of each serving is limited to the following amounts:
∙ Malt beverages one (2) ounce serving
∙ Wine beverages one (1) ounce serving
∙ Spirits beverages one (1/4) ounce serving
Package stores may not charge for any wine, malt beverages or spirits tasting and they must also limit the above stated serving sizes. All alcoholic beverages tasted must also be available for sale on such premises.

NB - beer is a "malt beverage" by the MA legal definition as long as its alcohol content remains below 12% by weight or 15% by volume.

So, handing out bottles and calling them "tastings" or "samples" violates this part of the ABCC regulations/interpretations.