The Boston Licensing Board decides Thursday whether to punish Venu for a September incident that left people drenched in cheap champagne and two BPD detectives unable to ferret out the underage drinkers they suspected were part of the festive crowd.
At a hearing this morning, Sgt. Det. Robert Mulvey said he and his partner arrived at the Warrenton Street club around 11:55 p.m. on Sept. 13 to conduct an inspection after he'd noticed a Facebook post advertising a "champagne war."
He said he and Det. Daniel MacDonald saw a greeter handing out disposable plastic raincoats to arriving patrons. He said he spotted several people who looked too young to be legally drinking. But, he continued, he was unable to check IDs because he would have been showered in champagne - since they arrived at the height of the event, with numerous people shaking up champagne bottles and spraying everybody around them with the bubbly.
But although he did not go into the drenching zone to check IDs, he did write the club a citation when he spotted several people openly downing the champagne directly from the bottles with no evidence they were pairing the alcohol with a meal - a violation of state law.
Club attorney Mark Evlogiadis said the spritzing has long been a "standard celebration" at the club for returning college students and is a way for them to get back in the school spirit with a harmless bang. He said the club uses only very cheap champagne, since the whole point of the exercise is to spray the stuff, not drink it. People who really wanted to quench their thirst could still get the real stuff - after showing ID - he said.
"Isn't an event like this inviting bad behavior?" board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini asked.
Nope, Evlogiadis said - in the 12 years Venu has had a Champagne War night, it's never had a problem.
And besides, it's really no different than Red Sox players shaking up bottles and spraying each other after a victory season, he continued, as he handed board Pulgini two photos - one from a Venu drenching, one showing a similar scene in a Red Sox clubhouse.
"You're truthfully comparing the two?" Pulgini asked. Well, not really, Evlogiadis said, which prompted Pulgini to ask why he'd just given her the two photos.
Still, Evlogiadis and club Manager William Robinson said, in the future, the club will only buy non-alcoholic spraying champagne for the event - yes, that's a thing.