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Alcohol infusion confusion brews in Oklahoma City

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A battle over booze and bacon brews in Oklahoma City after a bar manager was arrested.

Whether it be bacon, beef, garlic, or jalepenos, food meant to add flavor to liquor has sparked controversy.

The Pump is an eclectic bar hidden away in the Uptown District, with a reputation for infused beverages, and a vodka/bacon mix that caught the eye of authorities.

It all started back in February, when police dropped by on karaoke night following several noise complaints.

They eventually asked to see the liquor storage area, where they found a cabinet for Taaka vodka bottles, with bits of jalapenos, beef, and bacon dropped into the liquid.

"They were warned at that time, and given a citation, told you can't do that," said MSgt. Gary Knight, with the Oklahoma City Police Department. "The bottle has to be served, just as it came."

Police deemed this was in violation of an old statute, which states:

No holder of a mixed beverage, beer and wine, caterer, special event, public event or airline/railroad beverage license shall refill with any substance a container which contained any alcoholic beverage on which the tax levied by Section 553 of this title has been paid.

"The bottle has to be served, just as it came," said Knight. "Once it's open, you cannot add anything to it, and that's what was going on."

Police say the service continued. They checked in again in April, finding still more Taaka labeled vodka bottles with flavor enhancers inside.

Instead of a citation, Colin Grizzle, the manager on duty, was arrested.

However, some believe this old statute was meant for a different purpose.

"If you were to change the alcohol that's in there, change its content, either decrease it, dilute it with water, some other substance, that would be in violation of the statute," said Brett Behenna, local defense attorney.  "When it says refill, that seems to connotate changing it with some other kind of liquid, and I don’t think that happened in this case.

This alcohol infused confusion has now reached the ABLE Commission.

Pump owner Ian Mcdermid sent a statement to NewsChannel 4 that read in part:

"We are seeking clarification from the ABLE commission as to whether infusing spirits is legal and what method of infusion is acceptable. We simply want to play by the rules, we just need to know what the rules are."

ABLE officials tell NewsChannel 4 they will be discussing alcohol infusion at their next meeting, looking to offer clarification.