Applebee’s Serves Toddler Alcohol Instead of Juice

A 15-month-old was accidentally served a mixed drink instead of apple juice.

As if parents need something else to worry about . . .

AP (“Applebee’s makes changes after toddler mistakenly served alcohol“):

The Applebee’s restaurant chain says it’s changing the way it serves juice after a toddler was mistakenly given a small amount of alcohol at a Detroit-area location.

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report Tuesday that Applebee’s will pour juice for children from single-serve containers at the table starting this week. Applebee’s also plans to retrain workers.

Madison Heights police say the drink mislabeled as apple juice was actually a leftover mixed drink combination.

Fifteen-month-old Dominic Dill-Reese’s mother ordered her son a kid’s meal and asked for apple juice as the beverage Friday afternoon. Dominic was checked out by doctors, and the family was told the child’s blood alcohol level was .10 percent. That’s over the legal limit for an adult driver. Dominic is expected to be OK.

Not good, folks.

via Justin Elliot

FILED UNDER: Health, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Franklin says:

    Kid might as well drink. There’s nothing else worth consuming at Applebee’s.

  2. Boyd says:

    Of course, the amount of alcohol that a child must consume to achieve a .10 BAC is minuscule compared to an adult, so the kid probably had no more than a sip or two. Not that it’s good that he got that much alcohol in his system, or that it was served to him at all, but it’s not at all like the multiple drinks it would take for, say, a 165 lb man to reach that concentration.

    Full Disclosure: Not that I’ve been anywhere in the vicinity of 165 lbs since I was about 10 years old, mind you.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Perhaps I’m not as horrified at this as I should be. When I was a kid (in a town famous for breweries) beer was thought of as perfectly acceptable and conventional baby food.

  4. Andyman says:

    Great. One fewer place I can take a rowdy toddler to help him take the edge off.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Dave: I’ve got no objection to parents giving kids small amounts of alcohol. Mine gave me the occasional glass of wine when I was very young and I’ll likely continue that tradition with my girls when they’re old enough. But I wouldn’t want them served hard liquor when I’ve ordered juice, either.

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    That photo you found for the article–the one of a child appearing to be sipping on a mimosa–is that a stock photo or how the little Joyners enjoy a Sunday morning? 😉


    When I am a father, I will avoid this situation by never, ever eating at Applebees.

  7. Franklin says:

    My 2-year-old will beg for a sip of Bell’s Oberon. The kid has got good taste, not to mention he supports a relatively local brewery.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @Franklin: A good choice. I slightly prefer Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat when in the mood for a citrusy wheat but Bells is in the running.

  9. matt says:

    Oh man the first time I experienced being flat out drunk was during a fishing trip with my dad and his buddies. Apparently I was running around the lake from person to person getting a “sip” of their beer and before long I was passed out in the bed of one of the trucks..

    Basically I’m reasonably sure the kid will survive 😛

  10. ptfe says:

    Really? Leinie’s (anything) over Bell’s (anything)? Yeesh. To me, nothing says “college kegger that could barely afford to upgrade from Bud Light” like Leinenkugel’s.

  11. Neil Hudelson says:


    Eh, I agree that I would prefer Bell’s Oberon over Sunset Wheat (too sweet–although I’m not too partial American wheats), but I would disagree that Leinie’s are barely an upgrade over Bud Light. Beer, like wine, is what you like. If you want the heavy orange and cherry flavors found in Leinie over the more tangy citrus and the sharp wheat after taste of Oberon, go for it.

    And yeah, Bell’s costs more, but price and quality aren’t necessarily the same. It’s all in eye of the beholder…er mouth of the drinker.

  12. Boyd says:

    I think this discussion is missing the key point: what does young Dominic think about these brews?

  13. Ernieyeball says:

    My family moved into a new house in the suburbs when I was in the second grade back in the ’50’s. That summer the neighbors down the street on Old Mill Lane had a welcoming party for us.
    For some reason the adults thought it would be cute to let me draw the brew out of the keg and made me the bartender.
    It was not long before the kids were asking me to fill up the empty paper cups they brought me “for my mom and dad” they said.
    I dutifully obliged.
    One of the parents finally asked me if I was giving beer to my friends.
    “They said it was for you.” I replied soberly.
    The little stinkers were lying to me! Imagine that!
    It had never occurred to me to even sample the brew myself.
    I was relieved of my post and a good time was had by all!

  14. ptfe says:

    “…[B]ut price and quality aren’t necessarily the same.” Very true. The only reason it was the go-to upgrade over Bud Light (Leinie’s Original, of course) is it was cheap in the MN/WI area. Turns out they can sell it for full premium prices out here on the coast, even though it’s the same product. I actually find it interesting that Leinenkugel’s has successfully positioned itself that way. But I still won’t buy it.

  15. Andyman says:


    Maybe you’re from the midwest? For the mid-Atlantic, Leinie’s was hard to get before they got the MillerCoors distribution engine behind them. So there’s a novelty to it. (Granted, there is for Bell’s as well.) But I think a lot of what people enjoy is biased by inherited wisdom of what is and isn’t good or expensive. National distribution of regional beers kind of muddies the heirarchy.

    For instance, I bet out west people would rather drink Yuengling than Fat Tire, and vice versa here. But the two beers are actually pretty similar in the grand scheme of things, and not necessarily thought of as delicacies in their respective home turfs.

  16. ptfe says:

    @Andyman: That’s always somewhat in play, but I’ve lived in enough places and had enough beers that I’d like to think my tastes are about as non-regional as they get. OTOH, tastes are hard to judge, especially in beer: What explains the obsession by some with extreme beers? Does rauchbier have merit beyond being a regional curiosity? Is Tactical Nuclear Penguin worth $50 a bottle? Is that wet straw/barnyard/horseblanket flavor of geuze good or bad? And is anybody actually making a good gruet?

    But we still let ourselves have opinions about and wax eloquently on Scotch, wine, cigars, coffee, chocolate, etc. even though we know that not everyone has the same tastes. And we certainly don’t do it because we can always tell the difference between a $250 bottle of wine and a $25 bottle — rather, I’d like to think we do it because it’s the only way we can justify dropping a day’s salary on a bottle of barley that yeast has pooped in.

  17. Billy Bob says:

    Great, this will be a great family story one day (especially if they will be able to get some ‘college savings’ as a settlement! 🙂