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Flaming cocktail severely burned man at San Simeon restaurant, lawsuit says

Alex Du, shown here at the hospital with his faced bandaged, says a flaming cocktail served to him at San Simeon Bar & Grill burned his face and neck when a bartender told him to drink it without extinguishing the flame.
Alex Du, shown here at the hospital with his faced bandaged, says a flaming cocktail served to him at San Simeon Bar & Grill burned his face and neck when a bartender told him to drink it without extinguishing the flame.

A flaming cocktail from a San Simeon restaurant sent a Southern California man to the hospital with severe burns to his face and neck, according to a lawsuit filed last month.

In a suit filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Alex Du accuses San Simeon Bar & Grill of general negligence and is seeking an unspecified amount of damages to cover medical expenses and lost wages.

Lawsuits only represent one side of the story. Attorneys for San Simeon Bar & Grill have not filed a response in court, and restaurant management was not available for comment Monday.

Steven Roberts, Du’s San Luis Obispo-based attorney, said Monday that Du was traveling the Central Coast on June 10, 2015, and stopped in at the restaurant, which is part of San Simeon Lodge, a few miles south of Hearst Castle.

Roberts said he didn’t know the name of the drink or the type of booze it contained, but at some point Du was served the unknown shot of hard liquor that was at least 100 proof and lit on fire by a bartender. Roberts said his client speaks Mandarin and just a little English and that there may have been “communication issues.”

Maybe it’s cool to set a cocktail on fire while everyone’s standing back — maybe — but they should never encourage someone to drink something that’s on fire.

Steven Roberts, an attorney in San Luis Obispo

“It was a novelty drink. The problem is he did not understand how to drink it,” Roberts said. “But the bartender told him, ‘Just drink it.’ 

Roberts said that when Du began to drink, the still-flaming liquid burned his lips, causing him to spill the drink onto his face and neck, where it burned him further.

“Obviously, we think the bar shouldn’t have served a drink that was on fire,” Roberts said. “Maybe it’s cool to set a cocktail on fire while everyone’s standing back — maybe — but they should never encourage someone to drink something that’s on fire.”

Du still has scarring and discoloration of his skin where the flaming drink spilled, Roberts said, and is consulting with a cosmetic surgeon.

The attorney said the business is insured and its insurance company has been “very cooperative” and “expressed a desire to hear more about the claim.”

“We’re hoping this (lawsuit) will be short-lived,” Roberts said.

A case management conference is scheduled for August.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

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