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No go on liquid nitrogen cocktails, ABC tells Charlotte’s Bubble

So, no liquid nitrogen cocktails after all.

The N.C. ABC Commission has decided that, although it couldn’t find any rules or regulations that expressly prohibit the use of the 321-degrees-below-zero substance in alcoholic beverages, it does have “broad powers to protect public health and safety,” said public affairs director Agnes Stevens.

So Bubble, which opened to the public Friday at the EpiCentre in uptown Charlotte, was sent an official notice that day, Stevens said Monday. If the commission gets a report from law enforcement officers that the place is serving its advertised N-tini, “or any other potentially hazardous alcoholic drink (such as a Flaming Alcohol Shot),” Bubble’s temporary alcoholic beverage permit “may be suspended or rejected,” according to the notice from deputy administrator Robert Hamilton.

Stevens said Bubble’s co-owner told an Alcohol Law Enforcement officer the restaurant would not serve the drinks. Bubble representatives could not be reached for comment on Monday for this story.

Last October, a British teen had her stomach removed after consuming two cocktails made with liquid nitrogen; an episode this month of the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy” brought the drinks back into conversation with a plotline echoing the British story.

Culinary and bar professionals and a toxicologist with the North Carolina poison center have said using liquid nitrogen in a way that allows any chance of consumption is dangerous.

The ABC Commission’s letter said the action is needed “due to the health, welfare and safety issues that would be directly related to these drinks.”

The commission’s letter specified the dangers of inhalation – “potential health effects that include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, suffocation, convulsions and coma” – and skin contact, which “can cause blisters and frostbite.”

The letter also said the commission is aware of injuries sustained by customers consuming drinks infused with liquid nitrogen.

Stevens said the letter was addressed to Bob Durkin, in whose name the permit is held, and was hand-delivered Friday by an ALE officer to co-owner Jim Kleinberg and general manager Bourke Floyd.

“The commission’s authority … allows discretion to protect the public from these kinds of dangerous activities, particularly for locations that are in the application/temporary permit status,” said Stevens. “This location has temporary permits.”

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