Bar owner says workers keep an eye on customers who only order soda water or Diet Coke at night

@pat__light/TikTok Dean Drobot/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘That’s pretty suspicious’: Bar owner says workers keep an eye on customers who only order soda water or Diet Coke at night

'We know this trick.'


Melody Heald


Posted on Feb 1, 2024   Updated on Feb 2, 2024, 8:33 pm CST

If you order a soda water or Diet Coke at a bar or restaurant at night, you’re probably raising the suspicions of servers and bartenders, according to New Jersey-based restaurant and bar owner Pat Light (@pat__light).

Light, who said he owns seven bars throughout New Jersey, made the revelation when responding to a comment from a viewer: “[I] bring a flask if I get a free refill soda.” People, like this viewer, bring their own alcohol, via a flask or shooter, into a bar and make their own mixed drinks in an attempt to save money on drinks since a Diet Coke is cheaper than, say, a Jack and Coke.

“Do you know how bars like myself catch people who bring shooters or flasks into the bar?” Light asked. “We know this trick.”

Light said bartenders are trained to keep their eyes on certain behaviors these customers typically exhibit. “Our bartenders are supposed to pay attention to anybody who orders just soda water or just a Diet Coke at 11:30, 12 o’clock at night,” he explained.

One person ordering as many as four Diet Cokes, he said, is suspicious. The whole table ordering non-alcoholic beverages and then huddling around is also considered suspicious. “You’re at a crowded bar at 12:30 at night, and you’re all drinking Diet Coke—that’s probably pretty suspicious,” he said.

As soon as this happens, Light said both bartenders and bouncers are watching. “We are watching aggressively, and if we see anything come out of their pocket—they’re out, immediately,” he added.

Light said that “every night” when workers are cleaning up, they find bottles on the floor. “We know what’s happening,” he added.

@pat__light Replying to @STLBlues This is how we catch people as bar owners when they bring in flasks into the bar. #patlight #hobokennj #hoboken #nycfood #restaurant #restaurantowner #jerseycitynj #collegebar ♬ original sound – Pat Light

The Daily Dot reached out to Light via Instagram direct message and TikTok comment. His video racked up over 414,000 views, and some viewers are ironically sharing their methods for sneaking in alcohol in the comments section.

“I order a drink and make it a double/triple with the flask. If the bar is dead I’ll mix in the stall. I will be 100 years old before you catch me,” one viewer teased. “Just take the mini bottle shot in the bathroom,” another bar patron seconded.

It varies by state whether or not you can bring your own alcohol into a bar. In New Jersey, that decision is left up to the establishment that holds a liquor license. For obvious reasons, many do not allow this.

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2024, 10:00 pm CST