A Scary Twist on Underage Drinking: Serving Toddlers Margaritas

BlogHer Original Post

Applebee's (Hi-Res). 1st June 2005.Next time you’re attempting to enjoy an evening out at a restaurant and some annoying toddler is being loud, talking to walls and generally ruining your dining experience, you might want to tell his parents to make sure there isn’t some booze in his sippy cup. No, really. An Applebee’s in Michigan recently served a margarita to a toddler.

15-month-old Dominic Dill-Reese was served a leftover alcoholic drink instead of apple juice. Exactly why Applebee’s employees were serving anyone leftover anything doesn’t seem to be known, but it’s scary for all kind of horrific and disgusting reasons. The most horrific? Dominic’s blood alcohol level was .10 after he was checked out by doctors. Point-one-oh. We don’t allow adults to drive in most states if they are over .08 and this child had a .10?! The doctor said that if he had consumed the whole drink, he would have died.

He would have died. Because some employee served a leftover alcoholic drink to a toddler. That’s scary. Really scary.

Do you know what’s even scarier? It’s not an isolated event. At a Florida Olive Garden last month, Niko Van Heest was served sangria in his sippy cup instead of orange juice. In 2006, an Applebee’s in New York a five year old was served a Long Island iced tea. And in 2007, an Applebee’s in San Fransisco served a two-year-old a margarita. I wish I was joking.

This is just one more thing to worry about while dining out so close on the heels of finding out that people who ordered gluten free pasta got the full wheat variety.I don’t know the how’s or the why’s of the mix-ups and mislabelings in these drunk baby cases. I do know that margaritas look nothing like apple juice. I do know that I’m now hesitant to eat or drink at a restaurant who somehow thinks it is acceptable to serve leftover anything. And while the Michigan Applebee’s and Florida Olive Garden have released statements claiming that it was an accident and they are changing protocol, it doesn’t settle my nerves at all.

Reaction on the web varies from the horrified to the satire-fun-poking.

Like Danielle Sullivan at strollerderby, I am now going to taste my kids’ drinks before they do. Unless it’s milk -- certainly they’re not going to serve my three year-old a white Russian, right? Right?!

Members of a LiveJournal community debate whether or not they would sue if their child was served an alcoholic beverage. Niko’s family is. No word yet if Dominic’s family will sure.

If you’re now nervous about taking your child to a restaurant, I suggest reading this piece by Jen Doll at The Village Voice so you know the signs that your have a drunk toddler on your hands. My favorite: “Your baby's eyes might also become heavy-lidded, glassy, or beer-goggled. Despite this, your drunk baby will think he looks really hot in photos.”

I hope the parents involved are able to look back at this -- someday far in the future -- and have a good laugh. Until then, I assume I’m not alone in the juice tasting at restaurants nationwide.

Has your child ever been served an alcoholic drink? Do you taste your child’s juice (or water? or milk?) when you’re out to eat with the family?

Contributing Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a freelance writer and photographer.

Photo Credit: winton.

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