Recently, it seems like every week another claim surfaces that a server at a chain restaurant has flubbed a drink order and served a child booze. Signs of an overly litigious culture? Honest mistakes by servers? Irresponsible management on the restaurants’ end?

A brief timeline:

2006: Cynthia Pereles sues Applebee’s in New York City for allegedly serving her five-year-old a sippy cup of Long Island Iced Tea instead of apple juice in July ’05.

2007: Police say an Applebee’s in Antioch, California, served a two-year-old a margarita instead of apple juice in a sippy cup. AP reports that “An Applebee’s vice president says the restaurant keeps apple juice and the premixed margarita concoction in identical-looking plastic bottles on ice behind the bar.”

March 31, 2011: A two-year-old was served a sippy cup full of sangría instead of orange juice at the Olive Garden in Lakeland, Florida. An Olive Garden spokesman told CBS that it was “an extremely regrettable accident,” and the company has told employees to be more cautious with booze.

April 8, 2011: A 15-month-old at a suburban Detroit Applebee’s was allegedly given a margarita instead of apple juice, due to mislabeled containers, prompting Applebee’s to change its serving policy: They will now pour kids juice out of single-serving containers tableside. Déjà vu?

April 17, 2011: A Chicago mother alleges that her four-year-old daughter was served a Mud Slide at Chili’s instead of a chocolate shake. Chili’s told CBS that they served the kid a sippy cup of punch and the chocolate beverage in question to the mother.

Lesson: Just order water for the kids. And taste it to be sure it’s not a vodka shot.

Base image source: flickr member istolethetv under Creative Commons

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