AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Rainey Street bar agreed to pay a $900 civil penalty for refilling bottles of liquor, which is prohibited by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says Icenhauer’s, at 83 Rainey St., was cited for refilling on May 23 following the violation on May 20.
The agency says they seized 10 bottles of vodka, but couldn’t specify the brand names. TABC then met with the owner, who they say agreed to pay the civil penalty instead of getting a three-day suspension.
Icenhauer’s paid the fine on July 6. Inspections since the violation have revealed no evidence of additional violations. Bar owner Michael Icenhauer said in a statement that, in an effort to save bottles, they would wash a finished bottle out, remove all labels and then batch their house-made infusions into the bottles.
“We always advertised our house-made infusions as exactly that, house-made infusions,” Icenhauer said. “When the citation was received in May, we addressed and corrected the issue immediately. We have since used third party glass containers for all infusions.”
The public information officer for TABC, Chris Porter, noted that since opening in June of 2010, this is the bar’s only violation on record.
Porter says there are two problems with refilling: first, refilling a bottle makes it possible to avoid paying the tax per drink on each cocktail, because every bottle of spirits sold to a restaurant or bar is subject to mixed beverage taxes.
Secondly, the TABC says they don’t know what is being refilled in the bottle. It could possibly be a product that’s of lower cost or quality compared to the original, Porter explained. It could also be something with a much higher alcohol content or containing something dangerous to consume.
So far in 2017, the TABC says 14 businesses in Texas have been cited for refilling. In 2016, the total was 26.