This is not the first time Haven Lounge on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Florida has been involved in an incident with liquid nitrogen being served in drinks.
Immediately after Barbara Kaufman took one drink from her cocktail, served with icy white smoke, she was doubled over in pain. Minutes later, she was being rushed to Mount Sinai Medical Center in placed in Intensive Care.
Attending a fundraiser, Kaufman, 61, of Miami Beach, had sipped the cocktail made using liquid nitrogen. When she swallowed the drink, she experienced instantaneous pain. Kaufman spent five days in the hospital and is still recovering. “I thought I was going to pass out.”
The cocktail burned her insides, creating holes in her esophagus and stomach. As the liquid nitrogen changed to gas inside her body, it needed to expand. Doctors rushed the grandmother of four into surgery.
This incident occurred in January at the Taste of the Garden event at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. A bartender from Haven Lounge served her the cocktail, but did not tell her to wait until the liquid had evaporated, she said.
Some bartenders chill cocktail glasses with liquid nitrogen so that curls of white smoke appear for a dramatic effect when liquid is added. However, only a small amount is needed and it should evaporate before it is served. It should never be ingested in its liquid form.
Kaufman is suing Miami Beach Botanical Garden, Haven Hospitality Concepts and Kryogenifex, the company that supplied the liquid nitrogen.
Two employees from Haven volunteered at the event but no one from management was present to supervise, said Ben Arndt, Haven general manager.
“Haven discontinued the use of liquid nitrogen the day that this happened,” Arndt said.
In 2012, Vanessa Pomeranc, 39, of Aventura, had two drinks at Haven Lounge. After her second cocktail, which included the liquid nitrogen effect, Pomeranc said she fell to the floor, unable to catch her breath
Although Pomeranc did not suffer permanent injury, she filed a claim against Haven and eventually settled for $15,000.
In 2012, a British teenager had two shots infused with liquid nitrogen and required emergency surgery to have a portion of her stomach removed in order to save her life, according to England’s The Telegraph newspaper. The same year, at guest at the Czar Ice Bar in Atlanta was taken to a hospital after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) press officer, Theresa Eisenman, wrote in an email that liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature of -320 degrees Fahrenheit, is not authorized for use in food by the FDA.
“Consuming liquid nitrogen can result in the freezing of skin tissue and possible organ damage,” she said.
Kaufman’s friend who attended the event with her, ordered a similar cocktail. When she saw Kaufman in pain, she immediately spit out the drink, she said
“I had smoke coming out of my eyes and nose,” Mercedes Carlson, 60, said. “All Barbara was saying was, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’”
Even after Kaufman left the hospital, her nightmare did not end. She now speaks with a raspy voice and is on a limited diet. Her long-term effects are still uncertain.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the neglect of others, contact one of our experienced Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).