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Texas: Bars accused of serving counterfeit alcohol

Texas: Bars accused of serving counterfeit alcohol


Source: Click 2

Jennifer Bauer

Aug 17 2015


The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission have begun to investigate bars amid growing concerns and some complaints about brand substitution.


The TABC launched a sting operation dubbed “Operation Bottoms Up,” designed to identify retailers who substitute low-end alcohol for top shelf brands.


The operation began in April 2015. Samples were collected at 68 bars across the state testing revealed 40 samples from 21 of the 68 places contained counterfeit liquor.


One bar found in violation was Bokeeters Cocktail Bar in Conroe.


Sandra Young, Vice President of Bokeeters, spoke to KPRC 2 by phone. Young admitted her bartenders made substitutions for tequila without telling the customers, but said her establishment was serving a more expensive tequila — not a cheaper one.


Einstein’s Pub on South Mason Road in Katy was also found in violation.


KPRC 2 reached out to the owners of both bars but never got a response.


A representative with the TABC said both bars had one counterfeit sample and were issued written warnings.


“Just letting them know we have the ability to test this and we’ll be monitoring them in the future to make sure they remain compliant,” said Chris Porter with TABC.


Porter told KPRC 2 this type of testing is the first of its kind in Texas and some of the samples collected at bars have gone on for further testing.


“At the moment the federal officials that are doing further testing for this, they’ll be able to tell us if the beverages were watered down, or if they were swapped out for another brand or if there was anything added to the alcohol that shouldn’t be there,” Porter said.


Four bars in Houston were also found in violation but the names and locations haven’t been released yet because they are still under investigation. Porter said they each returned more than one counterfeit sample and could now face fines and possibly have their liquor licenses temporarily suspended.


“We want retailers to know we’re keeping an eye on what the consumer experience is and let them know there is a better way to save costs than to substitute what a consumer is ordering,” he said.