Tampa Bay (CBS TAMPA) — The concessions vendor at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium stirred controversy after a bar was reportedly caught serving flavored water as if it was alcohol.
A cellphone recording captured by Troy Sykes at Tampa’s Ray Jay Bar exposed that the bartenders were serving colored water as liquor to customers, WFLA-TV reports. Sykes and a friend ordered tequila that turned out to be water from a decorative bottle of booze.
“The ladies next to us were drinking Cuervo, and we asked for a couple of shots of Cuervo. When they gave them to us, we took them and they were colored water. That’s all it was,” Sykes told WFLA. When Sykes and his friend ran straight up to the bar to record his complaint one of the bartenders said, “Don’t’ move.”
“Yeah, don’t move. That whole thing is full of water,” Troy is heard saying on the recording. “Can I see that bottle? Do you service that to people?” he asked, and the bar served it to him. The phone recording also captures the manager explaining that “every liquor” that is sold at the bar is put on display in the back.
“All full of water?” Troy asked.
“Um hmm,” she responds in the recording.
And according to alcohol industry attorney Elizabeth DeConti, serving Sykes the water was likely a mistake, but is illegal nonetheless.
“When I hear that someone has been served water from an alcoholic beverage bottle that has a label on it, that’s not legal. But usually that happens because of negligent mistake.” DeConti said. “Someone thought that they were decorating their bar with this bottle and they ended up serving someone by accident.”
“It is against the law in Florida to sell, or to fill, a branded bottle with colored water,” DeConti added.
The stadium concessions vendor, Aramark, told WFLA that “what occurred was an honest mistake,” and that Sykes was immediately refunded. Aramark spokesperson Dave Freireich said that his team has not encountered a similar situation before and they will immediately change its policy to use real booze for its bar liquor display.
Sykes says watching the Buccaneers (2-9) is bad enough without having to deal with fake booze.
“You’ve got 100,000 people in that stadium or 60,000 people in there, if they want to drink they should be able to drink, get what they pay for,” he said. “Also, from what I understand, because I am a Dolphins fans, to see the Bucs play, you have to have a lot of alcohol in your system.”
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