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National

Kids as young as 14 make it large in bars Restaurants make a mockery of legal drinking age

November 08, 2018 05:56 AM

COURTESY MIRROR NOV 8

Kids as young as 14 make it large in bars
Restaurants make a mockery of legal drinking age
While the state-mandated drinking age of 25 is ridiculous, Mumbai Mirror uncovers the dangerous trend of bars serving school-going boys and girls
| Team Mumbai Mirror
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Some of the city’s nightlife hangouts have been brazenly flouting rules against underage drinking. Although hard liquorrum, gin, whisky, vodka and countrymade liquor—cannot be served in the state to those aged below 25, and beer and wine to those less than 21 years old, a test drive by this paper has exposed how schoolchildren as young as 14 have easy access to alcohol.

Of the 11 popular restopubs, lounge bars and clubs in the city that Mirror visited with minors in a week, eight didn’t even ask for IDs as proof of age. Those aged below 21 should not be allowed to even enter bars or clubs where liquor is served, but no security personnel stopped the accompanying teenagers, despite many looking visibly underage. The group of minors, which included both boys and girls, could place orders for alcoholic drinks as easily as for soft drinks. Boards outside these outposts stating that only those aged above 21 would be allowed entry served no purpose other than ornamental.


Only two of the remaining three pubs refused entry to one teenager, but were still willing to relax the age limit a bit.

According to the state government’s rules, local police stations and excise department officials have the powers to revoke the drinking permit and initiate criminal proceedings against owners of errant bars and clubs. However, in the recent past, not a single bar or club has faced the music for serving alcohol to teenagers.

While we agree that the age limit of 25—which was imposed by the state government in 2011—for hard liquor is too high, better checks should be in place to ensure that minors don’t have easy access to freeflowing alcohol.

(Reporting by Chaitanya Marpakwar, Lata Mishra, Rahi Gaikwad, Payal Gwalani and Mitaksh Jain)

TAMASHA, LOWER PAREL

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 1,153

Here, too, we walked in without our IDs being checked. The place was quite empty. We took a table near the bar. The waiter arrived and gave us the menu. The girl ordered rum and a chocolate-based cocktail with whiskey liqueur cream. The waiter told us that since it was almost closing time, it would be the last drinks order. We placed the order and the drinks were on the table in less than 5 minutes. The girl asked the waiter to add some Coke. The waiter didn’t ask her age nor checked her ID. Soon, the cocktail also arrived. The waiter told us that they were shutting for the day and no food was available. We paid the bill and left.

When we called up later, the management said no one below the age of 21 is allowed inside.

THE TIPSY TOWNHOUSE, FORT

Were IDs checked? One of the boys, who looked visibly underage, was asked for an ID inside. When he said he did not have one, the waiter asked his age and was told the boy was 16. The waiter then told the Mirror correspondent that 18-year-olds would be allowed to drink, but not a 16-year-old

Bill amount: Rs 1,504

Neither was there any age restriction nor was anyone asked for an ID on entry. The two-storey restobar had no patrons upstairs, where we chose to sit. Below, only a couple of tables were occupied. After we made the boys read the bar menu, two of them called the waiter for a cocktail recommendation. The waiter did not ask for their IDs and suggested a cocktail. But, when the youngest-looking boy asked for the cocktail menu, another waiter who came to attend to us asked for his ID card and his age. The waiter told the Mirror correspondent that he would not serve a cocktail to someone aged below 18.

There is no telling whether he would have insisted on an ID had the boy lied about his age. Secondly, the waiter only went by the obvious young look of the boy. The first waiter did not ask the other two boys for an ID and even discussed the cocktail menu with them. Both waiters should have asked all three boys for their IDs.

We reached out to the restaurant management later, but no one was available for comment.

LORD OF THE DRINKS, LOWER PAREL

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 7,438

We walked right in with the college student, no IDs asked. Once inside, the server gave us a bar menu. The girl ordered two small pegs of whiskey. Since there were three of us, he suggested that she order a quarter, instead. Despite being a weeknight, there were a lot of people. Once the drinks were on the table, the girl asked the server to add some Coke and ice and began to sip. The server asked neither her age nor checked her ID. We walked around the place and the girl even asked the bartender for some more Coke and ice. The lounge was buzzing with youngsters and adults alike. After about an hour of taking group photographs, we left.

When we called up later, the management asserted that no one below the age of 21 is allowed inside.

MATAHAARI, WORLI

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 1,000

There was a cover charge of Rs 2,000 per couple at the nightclub. The bouncer at the entrance asked the girl neither her age nor her ID card. Once inside, we went to the bar, where the girl ordered a small peg of whiskey. The bartender, too, did not ask for an ID. The girl was given her drink in 15 minutes. The minor spent nearly one-and-a-half hours at the club, but was not questioned even once.

On being contacted, the management said: “We don’t allow entry to those below 21 years old.”

THE GHETTO, BREACH CANDY

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 3,140

The staffer at the entrance did not ask for IDs. Inside, we were seated at a large table. It looked like a busy night. The girl aged 14, who had stepped into a pub for the first time, ordered a blue lagoon cocktail and a whiskey. The waiter told her that a cocktail contains alcohol, but after she acknowledged that she knew that, he left without a question. Within minutes, the drinks were on the table. The boys arrived after some time; their IDs weren’t checked either. They ordered a vodka and a Bloody Mary. Again, the drinks were on the table, no questions asked. We also ordered some mocktails. We even spilled a drink and asked the waiter to get the table cleaned. At no point did the management raise questions. We spotted many youngsters, who looked clearly underage, at other tables. After about an hour of taking group photographs and selfies with the drinks, we asked for the bill. The service was prompt and the waiter even packed some leftover food. When contacted later, Prakash Raut, co-owner of the pub, said: “We don’t serve alcohol to those below 21 and check IDs. We are following all norms.” FLEA BAZAAR CAFÉ, LOWER PAREL

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 3,140

At the entrance, we were told that since there was a live performance underway, we’d have to pay a cover charge of Rs 500 per person. We could redeem coupons worth the cover charge on food and drinks. No ID was checked, even though there were at least four staffers at the gate.

At the bar inside, the staff said they wouldn’t serve alcohol without IDs. We argued this should have been mentioned before the coupons were bought. After some time, the manager allowed the minors to buy beer. Two bottles of beer were served at our table.

After the live performance was over, we got the teenagers to walk around a bit with the beer bottles in hand. No one questioned them. We left an hour later after getting the youngsters to pose with their drinks for photographs.

On being questioned later, the management said: “There is a lower age limit of 21 for entry and of 25 to be served alcohol at our establishment.”

R ADDA, JUHU

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 1,149

While entering the club, no one was stopped or asked for their IDs and given that it was Friday night, couples were allowed to enter without a fuss. The order had to be placed at the bar and as the teenagers were placing the orders, the bartender did not bat an eye before dishing out the drinks. There was no hindrance of any manner as we were able to enter the club and come out of it smoothly.

On being contacted later, the management insisted that no one below the age of 21 is allowed in.

TAP, OPP JUHU BEACH

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 1,367

No one was asked to produce their IDs and we were simply let in. After entering the restobar, we were given a table with a guy tending to us who collected our order and did not suspect any underage drinkers at the table. He got the tequila shots as soon as we ordered and there was no resistance of any sort. The place was not crowded and most of the patrons looked old enough to be ordering alcohol.

On being contacted later, the management said: “We let in minors till 6.30 pm, but no one below the age limit is allowed after that.”

VITHAL’S FAMILY RESTAURANT & BAR, FORT

Were IDs checked? No

Bill amount: Rs 1,000

We entered the restaurant just 20 minutes before closing time. The waiter was prompt in joining two tables to accommodate us. There was no other customer around.

After being seated, we were only given the food menu. When we asked for the bar menu, we were told that we would have to go upstairs. Although we were ready to shift upstairs, given the paucity of time and the arrangement made to accommodate a group of five, the proprietor said he would serve us alcohol downstairs itself. No one asked for IDs from the boys.

We ordered two large pegs of rum and asked for four glasses. The waiter obliged and did not ask if the boys would be drinking. When the rum was served, the Mirror correspondent poured it into four glasses and placed two in front of the boys. Although the waiter saw this, he did not ask the boys their age.

We requested two of the boys to feign drinking from the glass, which they did. No one seemed to notice it. We also raised a toast and took photographs. Still, no one stopped us. The waiter watched us most of the time, perhaps because he was in a hurry to wind up and we were the only customers he was attending to.

At the end of the meal, he offered to fill the remaining alcohol in a plastic bottle.

On being contacted later, the management said only those aged 22 and above are allowed inside

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