Food & Drink

After woman accuses Dive Bar bartender of drugging her, others make similar claims

Angel Gonzales wondered why Dive Bar’s bartender was mixing her drink under the bar, but it was free, so she drank it anyway. Five minutes later, she said, she had gone from sober to blacked out.

In a viral Twitter post July 15, Gonzales accused a bartender at the downtown Sacramento bar known for its mermaid tank of drugging her. At least four other women replied to the tweet with similar stories about Dive Bar before Gonzales made her profile private and changed her bio to say she had no further comment for the moment.

The bar, in a statement, said it conducted an investigation, found no evidence to support her claim, and refutes it.

But in an interview with The Bee on last week, Gonzales said she and a friend ordered an AMF, or Adios Motherf-----, from a Dive Bar bartender around 10:30 p.m. July 11. She had one sip of the highly alcoholic beverage, her friend had two.

“Do you guys want to just get drunk? Or do you want to just get f----- up?” the bartender then asked Gonzales and her friend, according to a police report she filed July 16.

Though the women replied that they weren’t looking for a wild night, as one had a child at home and another had work the next morning, the bartender asked who was driving, Gonzales said. When they said neither of them, he looked side to side and told them “okay, I got something for you,” the police report said.

The bartender began making a rum-based drink in front of them, then walked down to the end of the bar and continued making the drink under the counter, Gonzales said. He allegedly then came back, handed the women each a shooter and told them to down it.

As Gonzales, 21, began to feel nauseous, the bartender took her glass and said “I wasn’t here, you’ll thank me later, I did nothing,” she told The Bee. When she replied “what?” he lifted an eyebrow, smirked and walked away, she said.

After three to five minutes, Gonzales felt more intoxicated than ever before in her life, she said. Her scant memories include nonexistent colors, faces in the walls and finger painting on the bar ceiling.

“I have honestly drank way more than that, like so much more than that, and I still had the ability to think and know where I was going and know who I was going with,” Gonzales told The Bee. “I was hallucinating. That’s when I knew I had to go, because that had never happened ever (before).”

Gonzales and her friend took a rickshaw operated by someone – she can’t remember who – to LowBrau, where her fiancé picked her up and had her home before midnight. He told her she vomited that night. She hobbled around with a burning head and continued hallucinating the next morning, she said.

A trip to Sutter General Hospital provided no answers, and the person on the other end of the Sacramento Police Department nonemergency line advised Gonzales to make a suspicious activity report, not a formal police report, she said. So she vented online, where her tweet had more than 4,600 likes and 2,300 retweets as of Wednesday morning, and filed her police report a day later.

“So I got roofied at dive bar BY THE BARTENDERS on Thursday night. I’m bearly (sic) feeling better,” Gonzales’ tweet read. “HOW THE F--- IS SAC PD GOING TO TELL ME THEY CANT (sic) DO S---? HOW THE F--- IS THE OWNER OF DIVE BAR GOING TO READ MY MESSAGE AND NOT REPLY? How the f--- is this fair ... it’s not.”

SPD has since launched an investigation into the incident that’ll include a review of Dive Bar’s security footage, spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said. A statement from Dive Bar management provided to The Bee and later posted to social media said an internal investigation rejected Gonzales’ accusation and cleared the employee who served her drink.

“We have thoroughly reviewed the video surveillance footage for the date in question and have not found any evidence that supports the alleged victim’s claim; furthermore, we have fully cooperated with law enforcement and have given them full access to our video surveillance system,” the statement read. “Fortunately, said system was able to capture the alleged victim’s every move and interaction leading up to and departing from the bar; our surveillance system also captured every pour and step of the staff member in question. We categorically refute all claims made against said staff member as well as those made against Dive Bar.”

No other police reports related to the bar at 1016 K St. have been filed this year, SPD spokesman Officer Marcus Basquez said. An informational report that did not allege a crime was filed in 2018, he said.

Bay Area entrepreneur George Karpaty opened Dive Bar and neighboring restaurant Pizza Rock in January 2011. Dive Bar is best known for its giant tank above the bar, where mermaids and mermen swim open-eyed for half-hour shifts.

Gonzales said she wants to see new bartenders with better training at Dive Bar. Several online commenters suggested she file a lawsuit against the bar or bartender, an idea she rejected.

“That’s not what I want. That is the last thing I’m trying to do. What I’m trying to do is make sure that this does not happen to anybody else, whether it’s a male or female,” Gonzales said. “That place shouldn’t be there if they’re not willing to take us seriously as their customers.”

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.