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Enforcing Alcohol Law: NYC Fine Dining Restaurants


Sneakeater
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I don't know about down there, but up here the fines are massive if a restaurant is caught not IDing patrons...(in the tens of thousands of dollars for a single incident) I personally don't think anyone should be exempt, or any type of establishment exempt. I do think having the drinking age set at 21 is rediculous, but the server is simply doing his job by enforcing it. The potential loss of a liquor licence could ruin the restaurant, it's not a risk worth taking. Before you start complaining, put yourself in the server or restauranteur's shoes...

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I think this thread is bringing up a sad facet of American life today-  class differences do really affect the subjective sense of applicability of the laws to various people. 

I think the sense of entitlement that Bryan's initial post displayed set this issue up to be a bit divisive based on one's class background or affinity.  I admit that I have no problem with folk of Bryan's age enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, and I was certainly doing it myself at that age and earlier (first in England legally, and then in NYC in the laxer pre-Giuliani days). 

Bryan's clearly a privileged kid with remarkably good taste for somebody his age... but he's not living in the real world if he thinks that alcohol laws don't apply to him, or that establishments might not actually face consequences if they get busted serving him.  While the customs and way of carrying themselves of most of the people doing the inspecting (also a class issue) might make them stick out like a sore thumb in a 3 star restaurant, that is not universal.  (Hell... I'd consider a career change if booze inspector carried an expense account to dine at places like EMP and Per SE.)

I never said the laws don't apply to me. In fact, I'm very aware of the fact that they do and never go to dive bars, buy beer at lax "quickmarts," etc even though I could because I am absolutely petrified of getting arrested and having some stupid alcohol possession smear on my otherwise clean record. In this way, the law works marvelously. That I'm able to dine at nice restaurants and am accustomed to ordering a glass of wine with my parents has nothing to do with class but rather habit and precedence. All I noted was that this has NEVER happened to me before in NYC, so I thought it shocking and slightly unsettling. The first time, as they say, is always tough. I should also note that most of the time I don't order alcohol because I don't like being in awkward situations, which I will explain later.

Why couldn't a parent simply share their glass with their underage child when the waiter isn't hovering about?  I seriously doubt that a restaurant would get involved at that level anymore then they'd tell the parent whether they could serve their child in the confines of their own home.  At that point they aren't serving the underage drinker, the parent is.  If the parent then gets charged because an ABC agent or teetotaling evangelist is at the next table then that's the risk they take. 

It's a shame that the situation might not have been handled in the most gracious fashion, but it's hardly fair to expect the restaurant to do something illegal just because it's convenient for you and what you want at the time or "expect".

Again, I have no problem with the restaurant upholding the law, but they kind of violated the widely assumed practice of "don't ask/don't tell"--I will also get to my feelings on this policy below. I understand that this doesn't making breaking the law any less illegal, but from the diner's perspective it was (one more time) shocking. My "expectation" was based on past experience and precedence not elitism, snobbery, classism, or my overall awesomeness (that was a joke, seriously).

In regards to the bit on sharing with my mommy, sometimes it's not that easy. Please keep reading and I'll relate a wonderful story.

I believe we all are in agreement that the risk may be minimal.

Next question. Should we expect to be served no matter how minimal the risk and withhold gratutity from a server if he/she chooses not to?

Hope, not expect. Would I be surprised, in a place like EMP, if, say, my little brother was carded? Sure. But would I maintain that he should be served? Not on legal grounds. Would I make a fuss or feel that I had a right to be upset? Not really, though I'd probably be a bit frustrated (of course, I would feel better once I had MY wine - sorry, little bro).

While I agree with many here that the law is ridiculous, I recognize that it is, in fact, a law, and also understand the proprietor's right to decline to serve underage drinkers. The risk may be minimal, but it's still a risk, and the law may be dumb, but it's still a law, and whether or not they would like to break it is their choice, not mine. My gratuity in the situation would therefore depend on the server's handling of the delicate situation.

Exactly, Megan. I was a bit frustrated since I love Chef Humm's food so much and felt that my experience was slightly soured. Again, I have no legal grounds to complain, just the fact that our very expensive experience was perhaps not as nice as it could have been. Then again, the food was really great.

I'm now going to offer a couple stories I've told elsewhere just to further illustrate the woes of trying to dine out while being underage.

First, there was a time when I was with my family in Hawaii at a very popular, quite fancy restaurant that attracted a good mix of tourists and locals. The waiter took our drink order but refused to serve me because I was underage (maybe 17 or 18 at the time, that's not important). Fine, he's doing his job, it's a touristy place, I'll just take some sips from my parents' glasses. A little bit off-putting but I really have no problem with this. I've done this kind of thing at nice places in Vegas too where carding is VERY strict even at high-end places with no problem. But here the waiter comes by after my parents' drinks have been poured and I've taken a sip or two and asks me stop. I find this incredibly rude, as do my parents. We explain that my parents are simply offering me sips of their wine and that they have not served any minors directly. The server sulks off and returns with the bartender and floor manager who again say the same thing very condescendingly. By this time things have really gone too far so we pay for our food, don't tip and leave. The conduct of the restaurant was really out of line and we have chosen never to return. So sometimes sharing is not an option when you've got an incredibly overzealous staff. In cases like that, you've just go to cut your losses.

Now, we turn to a very well-known wine-heavy restaurant whose name starts with C and ends with RU. Upon ordering a tasting menu for myself and the g/f, the wine steward comes over and starts asking us about wine, even after we've already steered away from it (though perhaps not as directly as we should have) with our captain. The wine steward seemed to be pushing wine, but I didn't want to risk getting in an awkward situation should he then card us and forever cast an air of awkwardness over the rest of the meal, which was again a signifcant investment for two kids. Anyway, I semi-aplogize and say I really want to try some fun stuff but am underage. The steward says that he would have served us, as would any other fine dining restaurant he knows of, had we not revealed our true ages. Again, "don't ask, don't tell" is clearly the standard at upscale restaurants in this city. I'm not even saying that this don't ask/don't tell policy is morally right, but to see it violated in contrast to my previous experience was (cue the broken record) shocking.

Now, I'd like to direct your attention to another completely mind boggling law that some posters here will have already seen. This still shocks me:

Is my child allowed to enter a bar or restaurant serving alcohol without a parent being

present?

It is illegal for the owner of a bar or restaurant serving alcohol to allow a child under the age of 16

to enter the premises unaccompanied by a parent, except under certain very limited circumstances.

A child age 16 or older may enter a bar or restaurant unaccompanied by a parent but is not

permitted to consume alcohol on the premises. If caught drinking, your child may be issued a

summons to appear in court, and can be fined or receive other criminal penalties.

(Alcoholic Beverage Control Law § 65-c; Penal Law § 260.21(1))

Madness!!

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I'll just take some sips from my parents' glasses.  A little bit off-putting but I really have no problem with this.  I've done this kind of thing at nice places in Vegas too where carding is VERY strict even at high-end places with no problem.  But here the waiter comes by after my parents' drinks have been poured and I've taken a sip or two and asks me stop.

Yes, because the restaurant could lose its liquor license if you're underage and consuming alcohol there.

... I find this incredibly rude, as do my parents.  We explain that my parents are simply offering me sips of their wine and that they have not served any minors directly. 

Regardless of who is "serving" whom, if you're drinking alcohol in a restaurant and you're underage, the law is still being broken, and it is the restaurant who will be fined thousands of dollars, or perhaps lose its license to sell alcoholic beverages.

If you rob a store at gunpoint, you're breaking the law; if a dying, unemployed man who was about to rob the store so that he could take money to feed his family stumbles outside the store from weakness and asks you as you're going in please to take his gun and rob the store for him, and you do it, you're still breaking the law.

I understand how much you want the restaurant to look the other way so that you can enjoy some wine with your meal. But the truth is, if you insist that they allow you to drink wine on their premises, you're asking them to break the law so that you won't be inconvenienced.

As I've said, it's certainly a shame that fine-food-loving people who are underage can't have a glass of wine with their meal in a restaurant. But the law says you can't, and the restaurants will expose themselves to great potential losses if they break the law.

I don't object to your desire to have wine with your meal, and it seems that neither does anybody else here. And of course, everybody is familiar with your posts and your fabulous cooking, and really likes you, me included (!!)

But I think you're being unfair. After all, you did say...

I never go to dive bars, buy beer at lax "quickmarts," etc even though I could because I am absolutely petrified of getting arrested and having some stupid alcohol possession smear on my otherwise clean record. 

... yet you're asking restaurants to take the risk of getting an alcohol violation smear on their records (a very serious situation for a restuaurant) so that you can have a drink.

Is this not correct?

[edited to remove extraneous content]

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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But I think you're being unfair. After all, you did say...
(BryanZ @ Jan 2 2007)

I never go to dive bars, buy beer at lax "quickmarts," etc even though I could because I am absolutely petrified of getting arrested and having some stupid alcohol possession smear on my otherwise clean record.

... yet you're asking restaurants to take the risk of getting an alcohol violation smear on their records (a very serious situation for a restuaurant) so that you can have a drink.

Is this not correct?

Word.

Just because it never happened before doesn't make it wrong.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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In Wisconsin and Minnesota a parent can accompany the child into the bar and as long as the parent is on the premises, the kid can get just as hammered as they want to be. I had my first legal snort of whisky when I was 12, with my dad.I didn't start drinking at all heavily until I was 24 and out of the Army. And even now, when I've sworn off the sauce till 14 Feb, I don't *crave* it. Yes, it would be nice to wash down the meal with a good Zin or whatever. But I attribute being able to do that in a family with a strong history of alcohol abuse, to developing a healthy attitude as regards alcohol at a tender age.

Too bad NYC isn't as enlightened as we hicks in the sticks are, eh?

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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Too bad NYC isn't as enlightened as we hicks in the sticks are, eh?

Too bad the "hick" laws in the "sticks" are no defense when you're defending the licence that allows you to sell alcohol in the NYC jurisdiction.

My comments above about creating a whole new class of guests were somewhat tongue-in-cheek in case that eluded anyone. :rolleyes: Of course I think it sucks that someone as appreciative as Bryan was denied the pleasure of enjoying the appropriate wine paired with his menu at EMP. I have no doubt he'd have enjoyed it more than 95% of the "adult" customers in the dining room that evening, and more importantly, unlike that other self-absorbed 95% of "adults" in the room, would have learned something from it he could translate into future dining pleasure for the rest of us. But that's not the point.

I've been in the position of protecting the liquor license of an establishment where I work. It isn't pretty. Make no mistake that the license is a valuable asset, not merely because of how expensive it may be to procure one. What if a lawyer were to be disbarred? A doctor to lose their medical license? They could still advise clients due to their expertise and experience, but would be disembowled professionally. Any of you in any industry can surely relate to having a major revenue stream/license to practice your craft denied or lost to your business. Digest that for awhile and get back to me.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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First, there was a time when I was with my family in Hawaii at a very popular, quite fancy restaurant that attracted a good mix of tourists and locals. The waiter took our drink order but refused to serve me because I was underage (maybe 17 or 18 at the time, that's not important). Fine, he's doing his job, it's a touristy place, I'll just take some sips from my parents' glasses. A little bit off-putting but I really have no problem with this. I've done this kind of thing at nice places in Vegas too where carding is VERY strict even at high-end places with no problem. But here the waiter comes by after my parents' drinks have been poured and I've taken a sip or two and asks me stop. I find this incredibly rude, as do my parents. We explain that my parents are simply offering me sips of their wine and that they have not served any minors directly. The server sulks off and returns with the bartender and floor manager who again say the same thing very condescendingly. By this time things have really gone too far so we pay for our food, don't tip and leave.

Wait -- you stiffed the waiter because he did the job that he was legally required to do, after you made an issue of the drinking in the first place?

I would suggest that it was not the waiter being rude in this case.

All I noted was that this has NEVER happened to me before in NYC, so I thought it shocking and slightly unsettling.

"Shocking and slighlty unsettling?" You seem to have a very delicate constitution.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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While I agree that our alcohol consumption regulations in this country are overzealous, I don't disagree with the waiter's decision not to serve someone underage.  I mean, the waiter didn't write the law, and the law of averages (since I know no one who agrees with 21 as the legal drinking age) says he probably doesn't agree with it, either, but it is, unfortunately, his reponsibility as a server to follow it.
Apparently NYC doesn't currently run sting operations at fine dining restaurants. Washington DC does, and if that had been a sting that waiter would have lost his job and his place of business fined heavily.

And as for stiffing the waiter...he might have handled the situation more smoothly, but you can hardly fault him for not risking his job.

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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[...]I never said the laws don't apply to me.  In fact, I'm very aware of the fact that they do and never go to dive bars, buy beer at lax "quickmarts," etc even though I could because I am absolutely petrified of getting arrested and having some stupid alcohol possession smear on my otherwise clean record.[...]

It's interesting to note that when I was a child (probably as young as 9, not close to the then-18 drinking age), my mother could send me to the local liquor store to buy wine. They asked me if it was for drinking or cooking, I laughed and said it was for cooking, and they sold it to me. It was in fact for cooking.

I think that part of what's getting lost in this discussion is that there's always a first time for a high-end restaurant to get busted. Clearly, a lot of the Wall Street people and so forth who Elliot Spitzer targeted when he was Attorney General of New York state were quite astonished to be prosecuted for behavior they'd gotten away with forever. I don't see the rational basis for being upset with a waiter or restaurant for refusing to serve alcohol to an underaged individual, period, though the way the situation is handled is obviously a relevant issue.

For what it's worth, the idea that the waiter may have been new, asked whether it was OK to serve someone who looked underaged, and was told "No," because no other answer was possible when the question was actually asked, sounds like a credible story.

Sorry you were disappointed, Bryan. Work to change the silly law (18-year-olds either shouldn't be able to vote, serve in the military, drive, or be jailed as adults or should be able to drink freely, as far as I'm concerned), but don't take out your objections on waiters.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Regardless of how infrequently an underage person does not get served alcohol at a fine dining restaurant when desired, it should never be expected that alcohol will be served. If one is served then he or she should enjoy it and be thankful.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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Regardless of how infrequently an underage person does not get served alcohol at a fine dining restaurant when desired, it should never be expected that alcohol will be served. If one is served then he or she should enjoy it and be thankful.

That's exactly how I feel.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The steward says that he would have served us, as would any other fine dining restaurant he knows of, had we not revealed our true ages. Again, "don't ask, don't tell" is clearly the standard at upscale restaurants in this city.

If I, as a manager, owner and/or chef of my restaurant would have overheard this, I would have had a serious talk with my steward that would have possibly resulted in him loosing his job. I think there's no harm in asking, and if you get served (your ID never checked and so forth) it's the restaurant's fault if they get busted.

Again, the law is ridiculous. It should be changed back to 18 years, but as long as it isn't, don't get mad at servers or restaurants for not serving underagers. That being said, I agree some restaurants don't spend much time/resources in training their employees on how to deal with the situation. The server in Hawaii was doing the right thing, he just wasn't delicate about it. If the comps come and catch you drinking from your mother's glass, they probably won't care that the restaurant was correct before when they decided not to serve you. All they see is that there is a minor drinking, and management is responsible. Again, we don't know if they were being targeted by the authorities and feared a raid. Fact is, if the law says you should't drink, and for whatever reason the restaurant refuses to serve you (and don't even want you smelling the empty wine glasses on your table), then you should just deal with it. Now, if your issue is that the waiter, bartender and manager were rude and insulting (and you weren't), then you did the right thing.

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The steward says that he would have served us, as would any other fine dining restaurant he knows of, had we not revealed our true ages. Again, "don't ask, don't tell" is clearly the standard at upscale restaurants in this city.

If I, as a manager, owner and/or chef of my restaurant would have overheard this, I would have had a serious talk with my steward that would have possibly resulted in him loosing his job. I think there's no harm in asking, and if you get served (your ID never checked and so forth) it's the restaurant's fault if they get busted.

You don't work in New York. Management KNOWS what's going on. This is apparently the way the law is enforced here.

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

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Moreover, if you present it as a class issue, all you're doing is giving regulators an incentive to start enforcing the laws against high-end places, so as not to seem to be making class-based distinctions.  Is that a result you deem desirable?  Or would it be a complete waste of resources?

As a lawyer myself, I have a certain philosophical investment in the concept of the rule of law. When circumstances demonstrate that the law is not being applied equally, particularly in a manner that annoys those least empowered to demand change, I do think that a readjustment and redistribution of the annoyance caused by the law is in order. It may provide a stepping stone towards reforms that will benefit everybody.

I sound like I'm taking a page from Grover Norquist and his "tax the poor so they'll hate taxation as much as the rich do" play book, and that somewhat disturbs me... but I think that booze law and tax law are different enough to justify taking that page... after all, taxation treats different people differently (and it should), whereas booze laws purport to treat everybody the same (and it should.)

The more people who get annoyed at the puritanical booze laws this country has enacted, the better it will be for people who love nice things to drink. Think how much better everything would be if there were an actual free market in alcohol containing drinks. Better selection, no distribution bottleneck issues, etc. That sort of change will only happen if enough people are annoyed at the status quo, or if the status quo required some effort to maintain.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

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The steward says that he would have served us, as would any other fine dining restaurant he knows of, had we not revealed our true ages. Again, "don't ask, don't tell" is clearly the standard at upscale restaurants in this city.

If I, as a manager, owner and/or chef of my restaurant would have overheard this, I would have had a serious talk with my steward that would have possibly resulted in him loosing his job. I think there's no harm in asking, and if you get served (your ID never checked and so forth) it's the restaurant's fault if they get busted.

You don't work in New York. Management KNOWS what's going on. This is apparently the way the law is enforced here.

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

THIS is the way the law is ENFORCED? Are we sure we are clear with what enforcing the law means? We could say "Law isn't enforced here". What is NY? The New Wild Frontier? I'm sure management knows what's going on, and I know for a fact that they do serve alcohol to minors, so that helps prove your point. But it doesn't mean it's ok. And It isn't wrong that a particular server or restaurant choses not to serve underagers.

Now, that "don't ask dont tell" thing, it doesn't only happen in NY. As the same manager, owner and/or chef as before, I don't mind my steward serving an undergaer wine to go with his/her meal... as long as I don't know about it. When I train my people I explain that it's illegal to do so. I encourage them not to do so because it's illegal. Why make myself liable and risk losing my license? So, again, in NY or any other place in the States (where this discussion is relevant), if I was that manager, I would make sure I talk to my staff when they make that poor judgement call.

And the poor judgement call is not the one about serving to minors, it's the one about publicly anouncing that they do all the time.

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Moreover, if you present it as a class issue, all you're doing is giving regulators an incentive to start enforcing the laws against high-end places, so as not to seem to be making class-based distinctions.  Is that a result you deem desirable?  Or would it be a complete waste of resources?

As a lawyer myself, I have a certain philosophical investment in the concept of the rule of law. When circumstances demonstrate that the law is not being applied equally, particularly in a manner that annoys those least empowered to demand change, I do think that a readjustment and redistribution of the annoyance caused by the law is in order. It may provide a stepping stone towards reforms that will benefit everybody.

I sound like I'm taking a page from Grover Norquist and his "tax the poor so they'll hate taxation as much as the rich do" play book, and that somewhat disturbs me... but I think that booze law and tax law are different enough to justify taking that page... after all, taxation treats different people differently (and it should), whereas booze laws purport to treat everybody the same (and it should.)

The more people who get annoyed at the puritanical booze laws this country has enacted, the better it will be for people who love nice things to drink. Think how much better everything would be if there were an actual free market in alcohol containing drinks. Better selection, no distribution bottleneck issues, etc. That sort of change will only happen if enough people are annoyed at the status quo, or if the status quo required some effort to maintain.

I agree with everything you have said.

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If the authorities have decided that serving wine to accompanied minors in fine-dining establishments isn't something that warrants their attention, that doesn't mean New York is the Wild West. As Sam remarked above, there are plenty of laws on the books that aren't enforced uniformly as written, but rather are enforced in a way that reasonably furthers the clear goal of the laws. Why would you expect liquor inspectors to spend time patrolling fine-dining restaurants to stop sales of wine to minors accompanied by their parents (which no one thinks implicates any problem the law is intended to prevent), when the problems that the laws are directed at center on bars and nightclubs (which require constant and expensive supervision)?

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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You don't work in New York.  Management KNOWS what's going on.  This is apparently the way the law is enforced here.

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

For apparently the same reason it's so hard for you to understand that:

the fact that a particular law may not have been enforced yesterday, or the day before, (possibly because no one with a badge was there to see a violation yesterday, or possibly because a person with a badge who saw a violation the day before looked the other way for whatever reason) doesn't imply that the law is invalidated, revoked, or rescinded.

If you break the law one day and don't get caught, that's not legal precedent which gives you the right to break the law again the next day. That's simply your rationalization.

You have no idea when an enforcment officer will, or may be in a particular establishment, and "neither does the restaurant.

As your mother probably told you when she yelled at you to stop putting you finger in your nose and then taking food with that finger, and when you undoubtedly answered "but Sally's doing it" - "that doesn't make it right."

This is indeed an interesting discussion that Bryan started, and I am hopeful (and pretty confident) that he's not taking any of this personally. I'm hoping he wanders back to this discussion and can reply to a question I posed earlier, where I said (respectfully) that I thought he was being unfair:

But I think you're being unfair.  After all, you did say...

I never go to dive bars, buy beer at lax "quickmarts," etc even though I could because I am absolutely petrified of getting arrested and having some stupid alcohol possession smear on my otherwise clean record. 

... yet you're asking restaurants to take the risk of getting an alcohol violation smear on their records (a very serious situation for a restuaurant) so that you can have a drink.

Is this not correct?

I'm just asking him if he doesn't see it the way I do, that he's asking the restaurant to break the law for his convenience and enjoyment, but that he wants the restaurant to take the risk, penalties, and consequences if they get caught indulging his request.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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For once, at least, my home state law shows some enlightenment. In Ohio (as I understand the law), an establishment can serve anyone in the presence of his or her parent. Put a champagne glass in front of a toddler -- OK if Mommy is there.

(Apologies if this came up earlier in the thread; I wore out about halfway through.)

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This has been quite an interesting conversation and I'm sorry I didn't see it earlier.

I've got to equate the situation to me driving over 65---frequently. And most everyone on the freeway driving over 65 frequently. Highway patrol rarely pulls one over merely for following traffic, so I've never gotten pulled over for driving 68-70 or so. Yet, I'd like to think that if a CHP officer *did* I wouldn't be miffed at him when I was the one clearly breaking the law.

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You don't work in New York.  Management KNOWS what's going on.  This is apparently the way the law is enforced here.

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

It's one thing to understand it and another to trust it. I haven't lived in NYC for years now, but hasn't nearly everyone who's been caught in previous crackdowns been unbelieving at first because they imagined the authorities were turning a blind eye to whatever it was they were doing? Law enforcement is kind of unpredictable that way.

I also think it's silly for college-age people to be stopped from drinking wine at dinner with their parents present but if they do start busting restaurants for that, someone's going to be first.

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The steward says that he would have served us, as would any other fine dining restaurant he knows of, had we not revealed our true ages. Again, "don't ask, don't tell" is clearly the standard at upscale restaurants in this city.

If I, as a manager, owner and/or chef of my restaurant would have overheard this, I would have had a serious talk with my steward that would have possibly resulted in him loosing his job. I think there's no harm in asking, and if you get served (your ID never checked and so forth) it's the restaurant's fault if they get busted.

You don't work in New York. Management KNOWS what's going on. This is apparently the way the law is enforced here.

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Does Bryan or anyone else here know who was sitting at the other tables?

Perhaps the restaurant had an enforcement bigwig celebrating at the same time.

Its the law, they chose to enforce it. Just because you would advise your clients to gamble on the lax enforcement doesnt mean you should require every 'high end' establishment to follow your advice.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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The more people who get annoyed at the puritanical booze laws this country has enacted, the better it will be for people who love nice things to drink. Think how much better everything would be if there were an actual free market in alcohol containing drinks. Better selection, no distribution bottleneck issues, etc. That sort of change will only happen if enough people are annoyed at the status quo, or if the status quo required some effort to maintain.

More support to treat alcoholic beverages as a food group rather than a drug - which except for muslim countries, is unique to the USA, no?

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

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If the restaurant chooses to serve underage patrons think of it as a gift not a right. An establishment could suffer fines, have their business shut down for days or have their license taken away (and it would be very difficult to apply for a new one, if one was available). Tough luck for the owners and employees.

If the underage patron causes or is in some sort of accident or has some sort of medical reaction the restaurant could be help liable.

As a parent if I found out that my underage child was served I would be angry, I don't care how high end it was.

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