When you have a liquor license, refilling bottles and substituting brands is one of those things that will get you into trouble. Twenty-nine establishments in New Jersey found that out last week, when the New Jersey ABC and the Attorney General’s office did a statewide investigation. Investigators found the establishments were refilling premium spirits bottles with non-premium brands. And when a guest would ask for the premium brand, they were served the cheaper brand.
This scenario is also illegal here in California. And while some licensees may think they can get away with it, eventually someone is going to get caught. And the fact that “everyone is doing it” doesn’t make it right and is no defense. Refilling your bottles, either with the same brand or a different brand, can result in a suspension of the license, up to 15 days. And then actually serving a substituted brand to a guest is a separate violation, also carrying a 15-day suspension.
Unfortunately, this practice cheats not only the consumer, but also the manufacturers and wholesalers. In the New Jersey investigation, the names of all 29 establishments were also released, so you also get that negative publicity. I’m sure that the three national chains I saw on the list–TGI Friday’s, Applebees, and Ruby Tuesday, would rather not have to deal with restoring their brand image.