What’s Wrong With This…Bar Shelf?

Okay, maybe nothing, but hear me out.

David, Ryan and I sat in a restaurant’s bar area eating dinner, and this shelving unit of alcohol was in my direct line of sight throughout our entire meal. At first, I noticed how pretty all of the bottles were, lit up by the daylight outside. Then I thought…wait a minute, those bottles of alcohol are direct recipients of intense, southwestern-exposure sunlight — that can’t be good. They aren’t in this light for a few minutes or even an hour. We’re talking about hours of intense sunshine beating down on them every damned day.

As it was, we were eating around 4:30 PM and the temperature outside was 96 degrees on September 26. So far, we’ve only had one day this month when the high was below 90 degrees. Most of our highs have been 95 and above this entire month. I know! Crazy, huh? And it wasn’t like the windows in the restaurant had some kind of protective coating on them either. Nope. So the bottles were pretty, yes, but won’t that kind of light and heat do damage to what’s inside those pretty bottles? I know heat can hurt wine, and there were wine bottles on the bottom shelf, but what about your vodkas and whiskeys and gins, etc. I know we keep our liquor stored in a dark, liquor cabinet.

The more I stared at the restaurant’s alcohol display, the more I started thinking about another restaurant we frequent. Their bar not only keeps their alcohol out of direct sunlight, but just as importantly, away from any windows. Period. Matter of fact, at night they lock their bottles up in what amounts to metal cages; so even if they were burglarized, at least their alcohol would be protected. I mean talk about a place that has their priorities straight!

Staring at the display shelf at this restaurant, those expensive bottles started looking more and more like bait to me. An enticement for thieves. Thieves who could easily break in from the outside and just reach in for a quick smash and grab during the middle of the night. Which makes me wonder — what does their insurance company have to say about this? I know if it were up to me, I wouldn’t insure them.

This alcohol display shelf isn’t backlit with artificial light; that’s direct sunlight poring in through southwest facing windows!

I asked our waiter about my concerns and he just giggled nervously and then started questioning me. He said that now that I mentioned it, I might have a point. Said he’d never thought about any of that before. He thought it was interesting that I’d given this so much thought. Why was I interested, again? I told him that David and I were in the insurance business and I didn’t think this was a smart business practice. That seemed to appease his suspicions about me, hopefully. Still, he didn’t have any answers.

I hate to be left hanging; but never fear, I turned to trusty Google to get at least one of my questions answered. You can read the article I found on the proper storage of spirits here. AH HA! I was right that displaying bottles of alcohol in strong sunlight wasn’t a good idea. Oxidation? Yuk! Who wants to drink an oxidized mojito? Not me! But that’s not what I worry about most.

What if I’ve inadvertently set things in motion? I mean, our waiter appeared to be honest and hardworking enough; but weren’t his eyes a little…shifty? I mean who knows these days.

Damn. I’m going to feel pretty bad if I said the wrong thing to the wrong person and he does the unthinkable now that I’ve pointed out to him how easy it would be for someone to break in and steal bottles of alcohol. Well, I guess it’s not unthinkable if I thought about it. Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better. Anyway —

All I’m saying is: if it all goes down — a middle-of-the-night heist, that is — may his haul be spoiled by innumerable hours of brutal heat and oxidizing sunlight!

Cheers, y’all! Friday is finally here! I hope all my Wayward Friends have a safe but fun weekend! Shall we get this party started with a little music?





22 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With This…Bar Shelf?”

  1. I’ve wondered about alcohol bottles on display in the sunlight, too. My guess is that the bottles are filled with water, sometimes dyed to look like the real thing. It’s all pretend to create an ambiance, I’m betting.

    • This sounds like a safe bet to me. Otherwise you have to chalk it up to gross incompetence! I was one of what they call an ABC manager in Virginia for years (a person designated to be responsible for the alcohol protocols in a given establishment). It amazed me how much people don’t know or will do for the wrong reasons. If indeed it’s alcohol in those bottles, it will all be waste.

      • Patricia,
        I had no idea that you had a job like that! Very cool. I’m so glad you were able to lend your experience and expertise to this post! You probably would have caught this much earlier than I did, considering I’ve eaten at this restaurant several times–just never with the direct view I had of the bar like this past week! Would you have said anything to the waiter or management? Mona

        • Mona,
          Depending on how familiar I was with the place, yes, I would probably say something. My own back-door approach would probably be something like “How cool that you simulate alcohol in those bottles like that, just for effect I’m sure. Probably you fool a lot of people into thinking it’s real. Do people ever ask you if the alcohol is going bad there in the sun like that?” (Your own approach is probably much more direct — oh how I wish I could be more direct!) I would speak to a manager too, not the server. Servers are often clueless. You stand a better chance that the person knows what’s really going on if you talk to the manager. I’d be curious what he or she says. Let me know! Good luck!

  2. In my misspent youth I stole my fair share of alcohol from my parents liquor cabinet…. but I seriously doubt anyone would break into a restaurant for a few bottles of Stoli. Let’s hope they’re just for show and not a waste of perfectly you’d booze. Oh! The horror..

  3. Maybe you’ve just watched too many classic cop shows. The keeping tempting valuables away from windows advice comes straight from Dragnet, while I learned from an episode of Columbo that wine goes bad when stored in intense heat…

    • ES13,
      I’ve seen most if not all the Columbo shows more times than I can count. Not Dragnet though. Huh, I’ll have to find those and watch them! Other than the fact that I found it curious that another restaurant we frequent locks their booze up at night and this seemed so different (I had time to think about this), that’s what made me think about that. I think. Also, while I’m not a huge wine drinker, we do have wine enthusiasts in our family who talk about such things! But now that you mention it, I do remember the Columbo episode where one of the characters was locked in a wine cellar and the air was turned off — wasn’t it over a weekend? 🥂 Mona

  4. I’ll tell you why they did it. Because this way, everyone loses.
    Why steal oxidized alchohol? It’s a thief lure and deterrent, built into one handy dandy money-draining shelf!
    Ain’t it pretty tho?

    • Sarah,
      So you’re saying that a lose/lose is actually a win? Well, we’ll call it an aesthetic win.
      Woohoo! The food’s good but I’ll drink elsewhere. Mona

  5. Maybe their goal was to be the exact opposite of a wine cellar. Who needs a cool, dark environment to maintain the integrity of the alcohol when there’s a nice blazing sun right outside that makes the colorful glass look so pretty! 😛

  6. You’ve been nominated Mona!

    Arghh, your blog thinks I’m trying to spam you with the nomination link. You’ll just have to go to my blog to see it.

  7. Pity the fool who breaks into a restaurant bar to steal bottles of alcohol that have oxidized due to light exposure. Yes Mona, you are correct, light and/or heat exposure to alcohol ruins it. So does sitting on a shelf for an extended period of time; alcohol can go bad. Who knew?

  8. CG (or should I call you Ms. T),
    Who knew, indeed! Perhaps the restaurant is optimistic that customers will finish off bottles of their favorite spirits long before they oxi–dies! LOL. Mona


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