M&B defends pub's decision to not serve child apple juice in wine glass

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Responsible trading: M&B defends manager’s decision to not serve child apple juice in Champagne flute (Credit:Getty/Jasmina81)
Responsible trading: M&B defends manager’s decision to not serve child apple juice in Champagne flute (Credit:Getty/Jasmina81)

Related tags Mitchells & butlers North London Events

Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has defended one of its sites after the operator declined to serve a child apple juice in a Champagne flute on New Year's Eve, though others felt the pub had “got it wrong on this occasion”.

Doctor Renée Hoenderkamp, an NHS doctor who also hosts a show on TalkTV, took to social media following the event to share the experience at the Old Bull & Bush pub in Hampstead, North London, which is part of M&B’s Premium Country Pub’s division.

Hoenderkamp requested a glass of apple juice in a Champagne flute for her daughter, who is five years old, while dining at the pub with her family on New Year's Eve so that she could “feel she was cheering the new year” with her parents.  

Though Hoenderkamp claimed pub’s manager refused to do so as it may “encourage her to drink alcoholic drinks”.

A spokesperson for M&B stood by the decision, detailing the importance of responsible alcohol trading, including with drinks that could be “perceived” to contain alcohol.

Responsible retailing of alcohol 

They said: "As a responsible retailer of alcohol, we do not allow the sale of alcohol-free beer, lagers or ciders to people under the age of 18, or drinks that could perceived by our team or other guests to contain alcohol.

"Our position was explained to the guest at the time and it appeared to have been accepted without question. No complaint was raised at the venue."

However, owner of the Dog at Wingham in Canterbury, Marc Bridgen, told The Morning Advertiser​ he felt the operator had “got it wrong on this occasion”.

“We would certainly serve a soft drink in a champagne flute in this context.

“In fact, we regularly do this for my 4-year-old daughter who wants to be a big girl with everyone else.

Storm in a teacup 

“I don't believe any laws are being broken in serving soft drinks in any choice of glass. I have seen puddings served in Martini glasses”, he added.

Managing director of the Three Hills at Bartlow in Cambridgeshire, Emma Harrison also stated the pub would have had “no problem” serving the child’s drink in an adult glass, adding the venue was “all for anything that makes things easier for parents”.

Though Harrison explained what “bothered” her most about the issue was that the customer “felt the need to take to social media” instead of raising her concerns at the time.

She continued: “If she felt so strongly, she should have taken it up with the manager at the time or just chalked it up as one of those things. Now she has created a storm in a teacup which the media has jumped on.

“Why do people feel the need to share every issue with the world and name the business in the process? It is potentially damaging to this pub - and hospitality businesses need all the help they can get.”

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