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ABC controversy leads to cancelled museum fundraiser

The controversy over Mecklenburg County Alcoholic Beverage Control commissioners being wined and dined by a major liquor company has already prompted resignations and statewide ethics reform. Now it's led to the cancellation of a fundraiser for the Mint Museum of Art. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: The man who calls himself "Spirits Scientist" for Canadian Mist whisky was all set to give his spirited lecture about the science of cocktails at the Mint Museum of Art next Thursday, complete with lab coat, periodic table of cocktail elements and tips for mixing the perfect drink. "Ice is like a thermodynamic engine," says Steve Hughes, so-called Spirits Scientist. "So the colder the ice is and the more dense it is, the better for your cocktail." Hughes does his shtick as a promotional thing for Canadian Mist, couched in the framework of a fundraiser for the museum hosting the event. The Mint Museum was on its way to selling out the tickets when the makers of Canadian Mist got wind of the local ABC Commission controversy and decided now wasn't the best time to be going after publicity in Charlotte. A spokesman for the liquor company says they're also worried North Carolina liquor laws might limit promotion they could do for the event. A similar event went over well at the Knoxville Museum of Art where Margo Clark is associate director of development. "I knew very much going in what they wanted and they knew what I wanted," says Clark. "I wasn't shocked they really were about their product. That's what they were there for. But they made it fun and I didn't feel like I was being beat over the head, I didn't feel like I was being used in any way." Clark says the lecture, appetizers and drink samples brought in a younger professional crowd the museum has been trying to reach. The makers of Canadian Mist say they still hope to make a "Science Behind the Cocktail" event work at the Mint Museum. But they're going to wait until the black eye on the local ABC Commission fades a bit and they have a better chance at getting good publicity for their money.

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