Tough new Victorian state rules mean children can’t be served alcohol under any circumstances. Picture: Tony Gough

A pub in Victoria has taken the controversial step of banning kids from drinking lemon, lime and bitters.

The Panton Hill Hotel — a family-friendly country pub in Melbourne’s northeast — made the decision over fears it may be penalised as tougher new alcohol rules come into effect across the state.

It means that pubs, bars and restaurants in Victoria are now banned from selling liquor to a minor for consumption on licensed premises under any circumstances.

Previously, children could consume alcohol on licensed premises while eating a meal if in the company of a parent or guardian.

The hotel’s duty manager, Julie Buckingham, told news.com.au the reason behind the ban was simple.

“We couldn’t get a definitive answer on (whether a few drops of bitters) constitutes selling alcohol to minors so we decided not to serve it,” she said. “We’re just trying to do the right thing.”

Panton Hill Hotel management says it’s too risky to sell lemon, lime and bitters to minors. Picture: Tony Gough

Panton Hill Hotel management says it’s too risky to sell lemon, lime and bitters to minors. Picture: Tony GoughSource:News Corp Australia

She said the response had been surprising, but it would not make them change their mind.

“We get angry parents and some who didn’t realise it was alcohol,” she told news.com.au.

“If we serve alcohol to minors we get a $19,000 fine, so it’s just not worth it for one drink.”

She said people don’t want “just one or two drops of bitters, they want eight or 10”.

The new rule has not gone down well with everybody and it has even prompted abuse from some customers, who said it was “ridiculous”.

A Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation spokeswoman told the Herald Sun the minor addition of bitters to a soft drink usually doesn’t constitute as liquor but depended on the amount added.

Despite the backlash from Panton Hill Hotel customers, new research shows most parents support tougher restrictions on alcohol supply to underage teenagers.

VicHealth research released on Thursday shows 60 per cent of parents believed there were no circumstances where other parents of adults should supply alcohol to underage teens at parties.

VicHealth chief executive Jerril Rechter welcomed the tough new changes.

“Our research clearly shows that parents want to be in charge of when, where and how much their kids drink. We all want our kids to come home safe from parties,” she told the Bendigo Advertiser.

“We want parents to understand that under the new law they are responsible for the wellbeing of teenagers if they host a party with alcoholic drinks.”

Tough new Victorian state rules mean children can’t be served alcohol under any circumstances. Picture: Tony Gough

Tough new Victorian state rules mean children can’t be served alcohol under any circumstances. Picture: Tony GoughSource:News Corp Australia

The research shows parents were unsure about the harm from alcoholic drinks can cause their teenage children.

It also showed that they were unsure how best to introduce them to drinking — with only 37 per cent of parents understanding it was best not to supply teenagers with alcohol to protect them from harm.

The Panton Hill Hotel describes itself as one of the oldest pubs in the state with a history of fantastic food and a friendly atmosphere.

“Melbourne’s favourite local country pub,” its Instagram page reads.

The pub prides itself on being family friendly with a large children’s playground, pony rides and has pet chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.

More liquor licensing laws are expected to come into effect in Victoria on March 1.

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