Fear the Deer — but hopefully, not their drinks.
As thousands of fans have descended on Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum to eagerly watch the Bucks vie for their first NBA championship since 1971, there was a disturbing and dangerous blip on the celebrations: A handful of fans complained they were served tainted drinks at a Bucks party tent just outside the Forum earlier this month.
Tainted, as in causing memory loss of the night, blackouts and double vision — after consuming only a drink or two.
One woman said that after having two drinks, two hours apart, she started feeling something was wrong, turned to a friend and said: “ ‘Hey. I’m seeing double.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, me, too.’ A couple of minutes later she said, ‘Hey, I need to go to the bathroom, I really don’t feel good.’ She goes to the bathroom and that’s the last thing I remember.” The woman said she got home safely, but was sick throughout the night, confused and foggy. “Almost like a hangover, but times 10,” she told WISN-TV.
Similar reports of blackouts and memory loss of the night came from about a half-dozen others.
All traced their misadventure to the purchase of Moscow Mules — a mix of vodka, ginger beer and lime — purchased at a Bucks tent emblazoned with an Absolut Vodka logo, in the plaza outside the Forum, where fans were celebrating as the Bucks clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference finals with a win over the Boston Celtics. The $7 drinks were served in plastic containers comparable to Mason jars.
To their credit, the Bucks reacted immediately, testing the pre-mixed Moscow Mule batch drinks and sending samples to the Milwaukee Police Department and an independent lab. The Bucks’ initial check showed no foreign substances in the drinks. The team also removed all pre-batched cocktails from its menus and began conducting additional staff training on safe alcohol service.
We’re hopeful this is a one-off situation that won’t be repeated. The Bucks and Milwaukee Police are right to take it seriously.
The news reports of the tainted drinks did nothing to deter fans who blanketed the outdoor plazas and bars in the Deer District outside the Forum this week as the Bucks opened their series with the Toronto Raptors — cheering them on outside even if they didn’t have tickets to the game.
But the popularity of the Fiserv Forum and the Deer District would certainly suffer if there are any repeat instances of tainted drinks. That’s a worry not only for the Bucks and the Forum district, but also for all the festivals and celebrations across the state that draw large crowds in the summer months.
The Bucks and the Milwaukee Police should make every effort to get to the bottom of this, and the Forum and other venues must be vigilant over their quality control and alcohol service policies.