Chinatown restaurant faces heat over flaming drink that set patron on fire

A Chicago woman in town for a bachelorette night in May wound up spending much of her time in an emergency room after a flaming rum and whiskey drink set her face and upper torso on fire at Crave Mad for Chicken on Kneeland Street, police, her attorney and the restaurant's owner told the Boston Licensing Board today.

The board will decide Thursday what action, if any, to take. In addition to considering BPD and BFD citations for unsafe service of alcohol and having an open flame without a permit, the board will also decide whether the various liquors used in the drink were valid under the restaurant's liqueurs license or whether they were actually hard liquor, for which it has no permit.

According to testimony at a hearing this morning, around 10 p.m. on May 20, the woman and her friends ordered what owner Cassidy Lu called the restaurant's "interpretation of a scorpion bowl" - a large bowl filled with a mixture of pineapple juice, citrus rum and Blue Curacao, topped with four glasses into which a whiskey-based liqueur was poured and then lit.

Lu, who said she has served the drink numerous times before with no side effects, said that when she lit the whiskey, the flames leaped to the woman's face and chest. The woman immediately rolled onto the floor, put out the flames and ran into the bathroom for water, Lu said, adding she followed the woman in to help her - and when she realized she'd been burned, to call 911.

Lu said the woman appeared to have "a really bad sunburn," that her eyelashes and hair weren't even singed. The woman's attorney, however, said the burns were more serious than that - she's still undergoing treatment, he said.

A once clear line between hard liquor and liqueurs started blurring a few years ago when alcohol companies began adding flavorings to hard liquor, which they say mutates them into liqueurs that restaurants such as Crave Mad for Chicken can serve. Lu said all of the products she used in the drink are on a state approved list of liqueurs, but board members asked her to provide both a purchase list of the liquids so that they can judge for themselves.

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Comments

A Flaming Moe?

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I hope to poor woman is doing OK and fully recovers. It's a horrible thing to get facial burns.

State Liqueur List

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Can anyone point me to where I can find the state approved list of liqueurs? Tried ABCC and basic google but nothing immediately jumped.

Lept to her face?

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Was she sweating booze? Drowning in perfume? Just had a rubbing alcohol facial?

But enough about the victim...
...why did the woman have to stop and roll? Did the owner not have a fire extinguisher at hand for the lighting? What if the glass broke instead or a customer spills the lit drink before putting it out and it went everywhere on the table and floor? You can't stop, drop, and roll a table.

"...whether they were actually hard liquor, for which it has no permit."

WHAT THE HELL? Have you seen their website and drink menu??? They advertise having a "full bar" on their website: "At Crave-Mad for Chicken we feature a trendy, restaurant-lounge vibe, with a full bar, and tantalizing menu".

One of their items on their drink menu online is just "dark rum" or "light rum". They have "jagerbombs"...unless they're not using jagermeister? Nearly everything on their drink list includes some form of spirits that would require a full license. Did they have one and then lost it and haven't updated the website to match their current beer/wine/watered-down-mixer pseudo-legal concoctions? Or are they totally flaunting the law and lying during the licensing that they only purchase allowed concoctions?

Also, besides the flaming drink, they have this in their photos:
IMAGE(http://cravemadforchicken.com/img/Food3.jpg)

That's an open sterno flame...is that something that does or doesn't need the same open flame permit as the one they got rung up for with the drink? How is this place still open??

So confused

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According to all the public postings from times they have appeared before the licensing board, they have a CV7MWL which allows for liquor. This is back to 2014 when they had Quilty appeal for them to have their CV7MW (i.e. beer and wine only) turned into a CV7MWL (beer, wine, and liquor).

But according to the city's database of liquor licenses ( https://data.boston.gov/dataset/all-section-12-alcohol-licenses/resource... ), they still only have a CV7MW.

So, either the licensing board is yelling at them for serving liquor when they have a CV7MWL or they have a CV7MW and all the licensing board public notices like: https://www.boston.gov/sites/default/files/document-file-03-2017/0330201... are wrong?

The L stands for "liqueur"

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There are basically three types of alcohol license in Boston:

Malt and wine
Malt, wine and liqueurs
All alcohol

If you have a malt and wine license, it's pretty easy to get liqueurs added to it - basically, if you've been open for awhile without problems and can prove some minimal "public need" (even a simple statement that "our customers have been asking for it"), you're good.

All-alcohol licenses, however, are a legally separate type of license, and you can't upgrade to it from one of the other two - you have to find somebody willing to sell you one.

Malt and wine licenses go for five figures on the open market (like $50,000 or so). All alcohol licenses go for six figures (like $300,000).

As for that database you used, the main page for it states it's "a legacy dataset," so the data may be out of date (when the city got into this whole data portal thing a couple years ago, they threw up tons of datasets. Some, such as crime info, they do a good job of updating, and some, well, maybe not such a good job).

What's the difference?

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What isn't covered under MWL that is under AL?

How can the offer a "full bar" and "dark rum" on the menu if MWL doesn't cover the same as AL?

http://drinkboston.com/2009

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http://drinkboston.com/2009/11/05/cordial-confusion/

Which brings us to the question: just what are the confines of such a license? Well … no one really knows. “It was never spelled out in writing,” said a long-time member of Boston’s liquor wholesale industry who wishes to remain anonymous. This source — I’ll call him Stan — says that the license came about because of Italian-American drinking customs. Specifically, North End restaurateurs, who typically had beer and wine licenses, were miffed about getting busted periodically for offering their clientele a customary after-dinner shot of Sambuca or Strega. So, in 1994, the cordials and liqueurs permit was born. Stan connects this development to the growing clout of Italian politicians around that time. While I haven’t done the research to verify that claim, it is intriguing that 1994 marked the beginning of both the cordial license and Tom Menino’s long (and, since Tuesday, getting longer) tenure in the mayor’s office.

Anyway, the thing about the cordial license is that “cordial” and “liqueur” have been liberally defined. Most people — including liquor industry folk, says Stan — first assumed that the license referred only to sugary spirits flavored with various fruits and botanicals. But over the years, outliers snuck in. Grappa? Pisco? Check. Applejack? Check. Flavored vodka? Check. So … if you’re a grape-based spirit, and you want to be served under a cordial license, say you’re from anywhere but France. If you’re applejack, don’t worry; only about three people in the city know what you really are (70% grain neutral spirit — woo hoo!). And if you’re vodka, just infuse yourself with kiwi or something to make yourself seem cute and harmless as a bunny, even though you’re sugarless and 80 proof.

It all adds up to one very grey area, where some spirits attract scrutiny and others don’t. Grappa is an example of the former, and therefore is typically served on the sly, according to Stan. It is actually up to the wholesale companies to decide what they are and aren’t allowed to sell to establishments with cordial licenses. And they all do so individually, says Stan, so there tends to be some variation in product listings. A restaurateur might be able to get, say, applejack through one wholesaler but not another.

Slippery slope

Liqueurs are things like cordials or other 'sugary' drinks. Something you might sip after dinner. Whereas alcohol is 'hard' alcohol, like whisky, vodka, etc. Even the definitions are fuzzy though. Brandy is alcohol, but blackberry brandy can be considered a liqueur. Whisky is alcohol, but Baileys is a liqueur...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liqueur

It gets fuzzy though, as a lot of places will (say) claim that flavored vodka, since it has fruit sweetness, is a liqueur. Bars and the city seem to perpetually argue about this fine point.

If you search on line for lists of liqueurs, the list is so extensive it does become hard to tell the difference between liqueur and alcohol...

Right...

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So, that then goes to "Josh Boon"'s question up above in the previous thread:

Where does the City have a list of which things are under the CV7MWL and which other things are ONLY under the AL? Why isn't that publicly available online (I couldn't find it either by searching) and who set this list? The ABCC? The city licensing board? Distributors?

AND I still go back to their menu online which offers straight booze like "light rum", "dark rum", etc.

Crave should be closed

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Exactly! I'm actually very familiar with this story and the drink glass did explode. The victim received facial burns and lacerations. The manager who served her this drink
Showed no remorse when she spoke in front of the licensing board. No one at the ABCC is doing their job and holding these bars accountable for violating the law.. so these places just serve whatever to whomever without any regard to their patrons' safety.