Cheers March 2013

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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LEGAL MATTERS By David T. Denney Burn Notice Why operators should steer clear of the flaming-drink trend M y firm works with a large number of bars, restaurants and other hospitality providers. Being a team player—and as a way to check up on them—I try to follow all my clients on Facebook and Twitter. Imagine my surprise, then, when I was scrolling through Facebook last month and saw a new photo posted by a client of the client's bar, in which flames were spewing from a bartender's mouth. The caption, of course, proudly boasted "WE'RE ON FIRE TONIGHT!" A quick search on YouTube for "flaming bar," "flaming shot," or "flaming Dr. Pepper" brings up thousands of videos, the vast majority of which are shot in bars and restaurants. It is still shocking that bars continue to engage in this practice even in our modern era of litigation and insurance premiums. The foolishness can take many forms. Bartenders wipe down the bar with highproof spirits and set them ablaze. They spew a shot of high-proof spirits into the air and set it alight like dragon's breath. They remove the flame arrester from a bottle of high-proof spirits and set the stream on fire. 20 | MARCH 2013 And they set up a rack of shots to light and ceremoniously dump into a row of beers—often, for maximum showmanship, spewing burning alcohol across the rack of shots to light everything up in a blaze of stupidity . Yes, these pyrotechnic displays look cool, and yes, they can get a crowd fired up. But occasionally tragedy strikes, and when it does people can be very seriously injured. The Journal of Burn Care and Research in 2006 reviewed the medical records of 25 patients admitted to one hospital in a 30-month period for face burns caused by flaming drinks. The same year, the Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries published a case report titled "Burns Due to Flaming Alcoholic Beverages in the UK: A miniseries and experimental study." The report reviewed multiple cases, including one in which a guest suffered 25% burns to her arm, leg, chest and abdomen after the bartender "poured a flammable drink onto the bar and set it alight as part of a show." A famous case of flaming drink-related injury involved a venue in New York that allegedly lit its bar on fire with 151-proof alcohol while "Great Balls of Fire" played over the sound system. The bartender allegedly removed the flame arrester from the bottle, and the flame lept up the stream of booze, igniting the contents of the bottle, which then shot out of the mouth of the bottle like a flamethrower. One guest was engulfed in flames, seriously injured and subsequently spent three weeks in a hospital burn unit. As might be expected, she filed suit against both the bar and the spirits manufacturer. Had the bar not played with fire in the first place, the customer would never have left in an ambulance. A CHILLING TALE Not only is serving flaming drinks a bad idea, but serving drinks that are colder than -320 degrees Fahrenheit is, too. Popularized by celebrity chefs, liquid nitrogen has been increasingly used in recent years in the preparation of drinks. Although typically used to chill glasses, it's now a part of the molecular

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