Drinks at a Kendall Square bar in 2007. (Photo: Stephan Segraves via Flickr)

People drinking in bars and clubs are being warned to watch their drinks after a – literal – spike in drugging incidents in Boston.

The City Manager’s Office, police department and License Commission are distributing flyers as part of an educational campaign warning of drugged drinks and have notified local businesses and universities, police said Wednesday. Harvard University amplified the message to its community, and Grendel’s Den owner Kari Kuelzer had earlier alerted the board of Cambridge Local First, which represents small businesses, to spread the word.

Grendel’s Den, a Harvard Square mainstay for 50 years at 89 Winthrop St., later posted its own laminated public safety notice in restrooms reminding people that “drugging people without consent is not only illegal, but is a total scumbag *sshole d*ckhead move that will not be tolerated.”

Drugging drinks is a problem that flares up every couple of years, Kuelzer said Thursday, but in this case she suspects the isolation imposed by the coronavirus pandemic has played a role.

The Grendel’s Den custom flyer warning against drugged drinks. (Photo: Cambridge Local First via Twitter)

“People have forgotten how to behave themselves. When you have two years of people really not being in public with each other, not being in public with alcohol and having lots of friends around, they don’t have the experience and the reinforcement for the best types of behavior,” Kuelzer said. “Even a kid who isn’t really trying to do any harm, and might think it’s funny – they need to learn from being out in places like their local bar where they have a few people who can tell them what’s right and what’s wrong.”

There have been no confirmed recent reports of drugged drinks in Cambridge, but Boston has confirmed cases going back to October, said Jeremy Warnick, director of communications and media relations for Cambridge police.

Cambridge police have received and become aware of reports of possible local drink spikings, but they weren’t medically verified, Warnick said.

Police are monitoring the issue and “strongly encourage” that people report anything suspicious.

Cambridge’s educational flyer.

Grendel’s Den is also on the lookout, as all bars should be, for beverages being brought in from the outside or suspicious behavior inside, Kuelzer said.

“If we see somebody who goes downhill real fast, we will call the police and take action, just to be abundantly cautious,” Kuelzer said. “We try to police this like crazy all the time and try to educate our guests on being careful about where they get their beverages – to make sure they have control over them and that they came straight from the bartender and not from somebody else handing them a drink.”

The restroom flyers posted at Grendel’s Den go a bit beyond education to speak directly to anything thinking of spiking a drink.

“If you are considering drugging someone’s drink, know that we are watching you,” the custom flyers say. “Also, how desperate do you have to be? Seriously! Ewww.”