Mystery of bottles sadly spirited away

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 December, 1993, 12:00am

WE are investigating the mystery of about 400 bottles of spirits that went missing this year and are wanted back by their former owners ''for recreational purposes only''.

Inquiries to police have turned up no clues, the former owners assured us. After all, it was the police who took the grog in the first place.

The saga started last April, when several local eating establishments were negotiating their way around the territory's notoriously tricky licensing laws - by ignoring them completely.

Faces, Porticos and Mad Dogs in Central - as well as several other places which apparently got away with it - were operating business as usual when suddenly they were busted by teams of uniformed police.

''The diners weren't too happy to be interrogated about what they were drinking,'' recalled co-owner of Faces, Raymond Smith.

''But what I remember most clearly is being dragged down to the police station, along with 82 bottles of spirits.'' Raymond bailed himself out of police custody with $5,000 he had wisely slipped into his wallet from petty cash before he left the restaurant . . . but the 80-odd bottles of XO and the rest were never seen again.

A spokesman from Mad Dogs in Central said they had lost about 200 bottles in a similar operation; Eric Piras of Porticos said that more than 100 bottles had disappeared in a raid.

A joint appeal earlier this month was in vain.

''In this case the law's an ass,'' the magistrate had boomed when Raymond Smith and former general manager of Porticos, Scott McLean, had gone to reclaim their booze.

''But I'm afraid I can't return your alcohol,'' he added regretfully.

''So what's happened to our lost grog?'' Raymond asked us in desperation.

We must confess to being mystified: despite talking to several reliable police contacts we could find no official answer to our inquiries.

However, on quite a different matter, we hear that this year's police Christmas party was a real cracker.