Bar's Cinco de Mayo Promotion Might Have Been Illegal, State Says
File photo by Maiquel Borges/Flickr

Bar's Cinco de Mayo Promotion Might Have Been Illegal, State Says

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is looking into a Southern California bar's Cinco de Mayo promotion, which could have been illegal, according to ABC spokesman John Carr.

Hennessey's Tavern in Dana Point was the subject of headlines over the weekend after OC Weekly reported on its Cinco de Mayo party. The bar offered a free drink, with one purchased, to those who successfully climbed its inflatable wall, an allusion to President Trump's vow to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Winners would get a "green card" that would give them access to said free drink.

It turns out that bars can't offer free drinks, even if a customer purchases one, according to the ABC. "Section 25600 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act prohibits licensees from giving premiums, gifts or free goods in connection with the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages," Carr said via email. "In other words, if a customer purchases an alcoholic beverage, they cannot be given something for free in connection with that alcoholic beverage. The matter has been taken under review."

The use of an inflatable wall and fake green cards in the marketing of the Friday celebration had some Southern Californians up in arms. Laycee Barragato Gibson castigated the bar via a Facebook post (embedded below).

"I grew up in South Orange County and went to school at Dana Hills High School," she wrote. "Casual and blatant racism towards the Latinx community has always been a problem in this area. To be honest, it took me moving to Los Angeles for college to fully realize it. Now I refuse to be a silent bystander.

"This stunt was disgusting and hurtful," Gibson continued. "People are being deported and families are being broken up. I know this was meant to be a joke, but so many of us are not laughing."

After the controversy blew up, bar founder Paul Hennessey suggested in an Facebook post that people got the promotion all wrong: It was an attempt to put a mirror up to Trump's crazy wall, he said; those who didn't understand were wasting time.

"Our intentions were to create a dialogue and show how ridiculous that it is to spend tens of millions of dollars to build a wall and even infer that Mexico foot some or the entire bill and have their citizens build it," Hennessey wrote. "This event obviously struck a chord with many of you out there and you and a number of you did not understand our intent. I encourage all of you to take the time that you have spent posting on social media to spend an equal or greater amount of time writing your congressman or the President."

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