Operation Maker’s Mark: The Investigation Continues

UPDATE, 10/26: The results are in — see our latest post.

Last Friday, as I sat anonymously at popular Center City cheap drink haven Oscar’s, a lovely, business-attired blonde woman walked in carrying a plain black binder, a casually dressed man by her side. Although the lunch rush had passed, she had a difficult time getting the bartender’s attention — probably because she looked like someone on a sales call — until she flashed a badge and identified herself as Officer Tara Amato of the State Police’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.

Amato explained that she was investigating a formal complaint filed with her office, alleging that the bar was serving cheap or watered-down booze in pricier bottles. (If you haven’t been keeping up, I was the one who made the complaint after posting a story about my experience ordering a Maker’s Mark at the bar.)

After checking Oscar’s liquor license (which was current), going through records in the basement, and verifying whether the beer lines were cleaned properly (Amato said they weren’t), Amato and her partner proceeded to the bar, where they analyzed many of the bottles behind it, holding the bourbons up to the light, swirling expensive vodkas in the bottle (presumably to check viscosity), and looking for evidence of tampering.

When all was said and done, Amato removed six bottles of liquor from the premises, including Grey Goose and Maker’s Mark. In a follow-up conversation, she told me that she’ll be bringing the seized bottles to the Bureau’s labs later this week for scientific analysis. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE, 8/29/09: As of mid-August, the State Police indicated that lab analysis could take several more weeks. Stay tuned.