Thursday, March 31, 2011

Drink Up!

by Dick Mac

I have enjoyed many drinks in many bars over the course of many years. I have paid hundreds of dollars for a bottle of liquor in a hotel, I have paid silly amounts for snifters of very old cognac, I have watched in horror as others order premium vodka in a Bloody Mary. I have over-tipped a bartender or cocktail waitress for being attractive, smart, or flirtatious. I have drunk more champagne than necessary during a dinner that had started out as a modest meal. At one time in the late 1980s, I had been spending so much money in a restaurant in the Back Bay of Boston that the managers started comping my food.

Perhaps my favorite personal story of over-spending on booze took place in 2003. Mrs. Mac and I were hosting Thanksgiving for twelve people. We decided that two cases of wine (24 bottles) should be sufficient, knowing that some guests would also bring wine, and there was always a supply of champagne on-hand should we run out.

I went to my local booze dealer and picked out four bottles each of six different wines, three red and three white. I relied on the proprietor to guide me because, well I don't know as much about wine as I would like to think, and it had been some time since I personally made this large a wine purchase for a dinner party. I thought I did an excellent job of getting all the wine for about $700 (more or less) (OK, more than seven hundred).

Our guests raved about the wines, the selection, and the quality. I was pleased.

Next day I learned that Mrs. Mac was not happy at the bill for the wine. The following Thanksgiving she went to her booze dealer, purchased the same amount of wine, and spent less than $250. Oddly, our guests were equally impressed by the selection and quality of the wines.

My point? I have, at times, wasted money on booze. Lots of money.

I felt better about my past experiences when I learned that there is a bar in New York City that charges $2-$4 more for a drink served with ice. It actually appears on your tab: "Rocks: $2.00"!

The bar insists it is because they use more liquor in a drink "on the rocks" than when served neat. I don't think this is news to anyone. I thought that bars and restaurants calculated their pricing based on X number of drinks per bottle, and that ice, spillage and the occasional over-pour were taken into consideration at that time. I guess not!

It has made for some amusing publicity:

The Darby charges for extra for drinks served ‘on the rocks’; Should bars charge more for ice?


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