Six Manchester pubs and restaurants have been found to be substituting big brand spirits in a Trading Standards crackdown.
The six cases of 'tipping', or selling low-cost spirits as premium brands, were uncovered as part of checks carried out at more than 250 premises, with officers testing nearly 1,000 bottles.
One prosecution has resulted so far. The joint licensees of Efes in Princes Street were fined a total of £1,520 for substituting Smirnoff vodka with the Booker cash & carry brand Chekov.
The swoop was prompted by an increase in complaints about spirits substitution in the city.
Philip Scatchard, director of the International Federation of Spirit Producers (IFSP), which has led the drive against brand counterfeiting said: "The products are not the same and Trading Standards authorities regularly receive complaints from customers that believe they have been ripped off by being served a cheaper product".
Trading Standards Officers use authenticity dipsticks, supplied by the IFSP to test for inferior products. While the trade body says the substitution rate has been reduced by around 60 per cent over the last four years, there are still around 200 prosecutions a year.