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JPBoston
05-11-2012, 16:18
I was hoping some advice from my fellow bourbon lovers on what to expect when ordering bourbon at a bar... Apologies if this should have gone in the 'new to SB' sub forum.

Basically... just curious on the basics. The amount and the approximate cost.

For instance, several months ago, I went out to eat with my wife at a nice restaurant. They charged me $8 for a Woodford Reserve single, neat. Is this normal? I can't imagine ordering a double for $16. In a separate night out, I also ordered a Johnnie Walker Black and a Glenlivet 12yr single, and they were $7 and $9 respectively, iirc.

And that brings me to the next question. Singles vs doubles. Is the general rule 2oz for a single and 4oz for a double? Is the price always literally 'doubled' on the doubles?

It would be great info if you guys have some examples of bourbon or any whiskey that you've ordered recently and it's price. It's hard to shop around for whiskey prices at bars, so it'd be nice to know when we're not getting ripped off. :)

Thanks in advance!

-Joe

callmeox
05-11-2012, 17:00
The bar where I bowl charges 2.50 for a single and 3.75 for a double of Buffalo Trace. I think their standard pricing is a 50% discount on the "second".

I don't drink whiskey often when we go out since the average joint in my area carries Beam White, Maker's and occasionally WT101 or Woodford. I won't pay a premium for bourbon that I won't drink at home, so I stick with beer.

sutton
05-11-2012, 17:05
Depends where you are, type of restaurant etc. I paid $11 for a Blanton's (single) neat outside of NYC, and around $8-$9 for a KC on the rocks. The KC on the rocks had an "up charge" of $1.50, presumably because there was a bit more poured when on the rocks vs. neat.

At a dive, however, I paid around $6 for an extremely generous pour of WT101 neat ...

Enoch
05-11-2012, 18:11
I rarely order any whiskey because of price and limited selection. I usually get beer or wine and drink whiskey before or after at home.

Flyfish
05-11-2012, 18:46
Depends where you are, type of restaurant etc. I paid $11 for a Blanton's (single) neat outside of NYC, and around $8-$9 for a KC on the rocks. The KC on the rocks had an "up charge" of $1.50, presumably because there was a bit more poured when on the rocks vs. neat.

At a dive, however, I paid around $6 for an extremely generous pour of WT101 neat ...
I'm a cheap old geezer who buys bourbon by the handle. At $11 a shot, a 750 of Blanton's costs about $200; $8 KC = about $145; a "generous pour" of WT had better be about 1/4 to 1/3 of a bottle. For the price of a couple drinks in a bar, I'd rather have a whole bottle of AAA or VOB or OWA or BT or....

Young Blacksmith
05-11-2012, 18:47
Usually doubles are cheaper than two singles, on the rocks depends on the place, they may charge for ice or not.

I usually get a double, on the rocks, and when it's about 1/4 full I get a fill-up for the same price as a single if I'm sitting at the bar and they just fill it up without asking. If they ask it'll be the cost of a double. Good way to determine where to return, and whom to tip well.....

Bourbon Boiler
05-12-2012, 05:51
At a restaraunt, usually you say "neat", and receive a blank stare. Then you say "no ice, no water", and they don't bring you an ice water that everyone else at the table gets, while still putting ice in your whiskey.

Kalessin
05-12-2012, 10:31
While most bars will be completely honest about the size of their pours, the size of pour they use will depend on a number of factors, including local law and tradition, the character of the bar or restaurant, the character of the owner and/or management, etc. You may get 1, 1.25, 1.5, 1.75 or two ounces. If the bartender likes you or if it's the end of a bottle, you might get a little extra. Some jurisdictions require automated measuring.

The heavy shot glasses with a line are a measured pour that is to be measured looking down at the inside of the glass; looking at the outside of the glass, it always looks a little more full. :)

If I recall correctly, Massachusetts does not allow "doubles", or certain kinds of all-liquor drinks (like "Manhattan Iced Tea"). They also don't allow "happy hour" price discounts.

The price you pay is also to pay the overhead of rent, payroll, electricity, licensing, taxes, some profit on the business, etc.

I'll sometimes enjoy a bourbon at the start of dinner, and sure, Maker's Mark costs $8 or so for a shot, not including tip, but it's part of the overall experience. Since most places don't know what water on the side would be for, I often order it "with a cube".

Enoch
05-12-2012, 11:06
I went to a Hootie benefit for Pets Inc. about a year ago with a cash bar. They usually hire inexperienced bartenders. I asked for bourbon neat. She proceeded to put ice in the glass and pour Maker's on it. When I explained I didn't want ice she poured it out in the sink and filled up the glass (about 12 oz.) with straight bourbon for $7. When I explained it was too much she started to pour some of it out so I said it was OK I would take it. I love benefits.....

StraightNoChaser
05-12-2012, 11:56
At a restaraunt, usually you say "neat", and receive a blank stare. Then you say "no ice, no water", and they don't bring you an ice water that everyone else at the table gets, while still putting ice in your whiskey.
I ordered a Maker's neat at a cowboy bar a few weeks ago. It came back shaken/chilled.

That's what I get for ordering Maker's.

ILLfarmboy
05-12-2012, 12:16
I ordered a Maker's neat at a cowboy bar a few weeks ago. It came back shaken/chilled.

That's what I get for ordering Maker's.

Has the waitstaff at this cowboy bar never seen a western? :cool:

wadewood
05-12-2012, 12:40
As a guideline, the typically cost of a drink at bar/restaurant is 25% of the cost of the bottle. So if Buffalo Trace sells for $20/bottle at liquor store, you should expect to pay $5.

For me, if the price exceeds this 25% formula, I figure they are ripping me off and generally will not order for them.

And if you are bar/restaurant owner with a decent whiskey selection and reading this, print a damn price list.

ILLfarmboy
05-12-2012, 13:03
And if you are bar/restaurant owner with a decent whiskey selection and reading this, print a damn price list.

Damn straight.

Why do restaurants not include a list of the spirits they stock in their drink menus. Its usually just a listing of their beers and a few of their signature cocktails.

soad
05-12-2012, 17:44
As a guideline, the typically cost of a drink at bar/restaurant is 25% of the cost of the bottle. So if Buffalo Trace sells for $20/bottle at liquor store, you should expect to pay $5.


Makes sense. I'm always amazed at the mark-up over liquor store retail at my local hole-in-the-wall....but you're not just paying for the drink, you're paying for the atmosphere/good times....:grin:

MarkEdwards
05-12-2012, 18:05
There's an "Irish pub" up in Dallas that charges $12 for about an ounce og Jameson's 12, and $18 for about an ounce of Jameson's 18. And it looks like a lot less because they serve it in a large brandy snifter.

I forget what they charged for the Guinness, but it was delicious.

Bourbon Boiler
05-12-2012, 19:00
And, restaraunteurs, keep all you bourbons/whiskeys together when on display. I can spot the red wax from across the room, and don't look outside that general area. I almost missed an ER10 last week.

bllygthrd
05-12-2012, 19:27
.

And if you are bar/restaurant owner with a decent whiskey selection and reading this, print a damn price list.

I agree totally! I love restaurant's that have whiskey lists [like wine lists]. I also have these additional tips:

Always watch your drinks being poured, you can catch the "on the rocks" errors, and also verify that you are getting what you paid for. I have no qualms about telling the bar keep that his pour was " a bit light".

Tip your bar keep well ... I usually order myself a drink first, and give him a 50% tip. Then, when my son and sons-in-law arrive, and I order a round of bourbons ... we usually get very generous pours.

BillP
05-13-2012, 07:34
My local place charges $4.75 for WT101 neat and $5.25 on the rocks. The staff has been trained to pour a double if you order "on the rocks." Has anyone else heard of this?

Kalessin
05-13-2012, 07:43
If I recall correctly, Massachusetts does not allow "doubles", or certain kinds of all-liquor drinks (like "Manhattan Iced Tea"). They also don't allow "happy hour" price discounts.



Duh. I had Manhattans on the brain (and a tasty one at a party last night). I meant "Long Island Iced Tea".

StraightNoChaser
05-13-2012, 11:18
My local place charges $4.75 for WT101 neat and $5.25 on the rocks. The staff has been trained to pour a double if you order "on the rocks." Has anyone else heard of this?
This is going to vary from bar to bar. At my favorite bar it's $2 extra for rocks OR neat, which you receive a 2oz pour of. The other option would be in a mixed drink, like a bourbon and coke, with a 1.5oz pour.

Part of the reason most bars pour extra in rocks is because the a standard pour will look small in a glass of ice.

jeanraulmitchell
05-13-2012, 12:07
Until I know the bartender, I ask for what I want exactly by giving them(bartender or waiter) specific instructions, "I would like a glass of ________ in a snifter, if they don't have that, in a wine glass that isn't cold and I only want the bourbon in the glass, no ice, water or anything else, please" and if I get a "you want that neat" response, then I trust them and no matter, by the time I get two drinks that way, they remember me, I tip them well enough for them to give me a better pour next time.

Mark up is crazy!, but you pay for what you get...one of my favorite places has Schott Zwiesel Pure Cognac glasses and everything tastes incredible out of those, so an extra dollar or 2 on my Willett 5yo rye doesn't bother me. And with good friends and a nice context, it just tastes better. That's what it's for, right?, to enjoy with friends, at least sometimes. Sure, I can invite them over and let them drink my bourbon, but in the end, I probably save cash by just buying my own drink at the bar and let them drink whatever they want. Plus, at the bar, I don't have to convince anyone that WLW is not too strong to drink neat and later have to buy new glasses because WLW was strong enough that their grip was lost after the first pour, glass goes everywhere and costs me $15 and now my home bar tab is $55(8 glasses of WLW with 4 friends is $40 and $15 for a new riedel glass).

Just saying. Yeah, I'm picky about glasses especially at a bar. If I have to drink out of plastic then it better be pretty freaking special stuff in a difficult situation.

Bourbon Boiler
05-13-2012, 12:15
As a guideline, the typically cost of a drink at bar/restaurant is 25% of the cost of the bottle. So if Buffalo Trace sells for $20/bottle at liquor store, you should expect to pay $5.


Wow. A rule of thumb is a 50% markup (33% margin) at the retail level. Thus the distributor sold that bottle of Buffalo Trace for about $13.34. Sell three servings for $5, and the acquisition costs are covered.

JPBoston
05-13-2012, 12:29
Thanks for all the great replies, fellas!! So many great points in this thread.... but this one hit home for me:


As a guideline, the typically cost of a drink at bar/restaurant is 25% of the cost of the bottle. So if Buffalo Trace sells for $20/bottle at liquor store, you should expect to pay $5.

For me, if the price exceeds this 25% formula, I figure they are ripping me off and generally will not order for them.

And if you are bar/restaurant owner with a decent whiskey selection and reading this, print a damn price list.

Glad I'm not alone in this one. I feel like such a jerk when I need to ask how much a certain whiskey costs.... why the hell don't they just print it out for us? **and thanks for that formula as well, that will be very handy**

And as for incompetent bartenders... When I ordered my Johnnie Walker Black neat (their bourbon selection was not much more then Maker's, so I decided to try some scotches), the bartender brought it to me in a rocks glass, filled with ice... but also completely filled with JWB. I reminded her I ordered it neat, so she very gladly strained the already-poured JWB into a separate glass AND brought me an actual JWB neat as well. Now that's value! Needless to say, she got a very nice tip at the end of the night. :)

Not to tweak any nerves... but I have no idea how people can order scotch on the rocks... even the order I had that was strained almost immediately, tasted like whiskey flavored water... like if Vitamin Water had a 'scotch flavor'. ;)

tommyj1986
05-13-2012, 20:02
I have a personal rule of 'order for your bar'. There is a large variety of bars in my town, and even though whiskey is my preference, I order what I perceive as the best option for me at the time and mood (mood usually dictates my watering hole too). For example there is a bar where I can get a small pitcher of Yuengling (about 2.5 to 3 pints) for $5, they also have good pricing on whiskey, but it is all the usual suspects. Another bar in town has higher prices but an amazing selection, they also know 'neat' and they do weekly whiskey tastings, I'll pay a premium there for the chance to try something new or revisit an old friend because thats what their selection is good for. If I want a good deal, I'll either drink at home, or hit up a local place that does top shelf doubles for $6.50, in cocktails or neat, but there selection, like mine at home, varies from time to time.

As far as ordering at a bar I don't frequent, then I do something 'safe'. Whiskey on the rocks has proven to be a good deal for me, one of the supper clubs in my hometown sold me a Makers on the rocks for $7, but it was about 4 to 5 oz worth of whiskey. I've been fortunate enough that I don't recall a bartender not knowing what neat means, but I find waitstaff tend to look at you confused. Also I always tip generous and try to say something clever to be more memorable.

Restaurant man
05-13-2012, 21:13
As a guideline, the typically cost of a drink at bar/restaurant is 25% of the cost of the bottle. So if Buffalo Trace sells for $20/bottle at liquor store, you should expect to pay $5.

For me, if the price exceeds this 25% formula, I figure they are ripping me off and generally will not order for them.

And if you are bar/restaurant owner with a decent whiskey selection and reading this, print a damn price list.

1. We do have a whiskey list. Those who don't aren't trying for great service. None and I mean none of my servers could be expected to remember all those whiskeys.

2. The percentage thing is a sliding scale. My house vodka is $10 per btl and we get 6.50 per 1.25oz. Killer huh? But most of our liquor sold is premium or crazy premium like Louis XIV which costs me $80 an ounce and we charge $100 an ounce. So on that one your percentage check will make u feel good. As a general rule for most of the "good stuff" I look for between 25%-33% cost.

3. A bottle that costs 25$ and is sold for 100$ after all the drinks are served is NOT a 75$ profit. Not even close! After the glass is bought (and broken) and the rent/lights/credit card commission/ labor/taxes/management fees/ insurance/etc. Ad naseum. The bartender is clearing more than the house on that bottle

4. Pour sizes do vary from place to place but also by how the drink is served/mixed. Mixed drinks are usually 1.25-1.5 oz. But when served in a "martini" we serve 3oz and add a dollar to the cost of the drink. So that over a double pour for about 12% more money. Rox and neat pours add another oz or so for .75 more. So if u mix and are really economical (read cheap) order rox with a "splash" or get your mixer on the side. Or just don't be a wuss and drink it neat or on the rox

Anything I missed?

LikeItWasSodaPop
05-14-2012, 00:20
Reading this board has turned me into a cocktail or wine/beer guy when out. There's just a few bars in all of Chicago that can compete with what I have at home, so why bother paying a premium for what at best amounts to an "everyday pour"?

That said, when I do want whiskey, the key is to stand back for a bit -- order a beer, maybe -- and watch the bartender(s). Who's in charge? Do different bartenders pour differently? Does one seem to be more knowledgeable or capable?

There are two major factors: bar policy and personality. You can't overcome bar policy but personality will get you far if you have it.

For example, Delilah's in Chicago has an amazing selection. Yet I'll never order another bourbon there in my life because their pours are pathetic. I don't mind a bartender measuring out a pour of something expensive, but these folks act as if they have a gun to their heads and those last few tenths of an ounce are the difference between life and death. No amount of charm will change this -- at least in my experience. The pours are rigid, mechanical, no matter what, no matter whom.

Contrast that with Twisted Spoke, where the pours are deep and glorious. I'm not saying that I need the house to lose money on my drink -- especially the great places like the Spoke that curate phenomenal whiskey lists -- just that the pour be fair. What constitutes fair, is, of course, open to interpretation, but I like "fair" to get "fairer" as the night goes on. In any event, the Twisted Spoke bartenders love to talk bourbon, totally know their shit, and definitely hook you up -- and then some -- if you treat them right. This is, I believe, how it should be. And I reward them with repeat business and 40% tips for it.

So developing a relationship with the bartender is key. If you can't do that, you're basically taking luck of the draw. Bartenders deal with douchebag idiots all night long. Showing you understand whiskey is a big deal -- most people don't know a thing. But I have been running into a problem: the chip on his shoulder bartender who gets mad at you for knowing more about whiskey than he does. Know-it-alls beware.

In Chicago, I really love Danny's for a nice pour, FWIW. 2.5 fingers regularly in a large Old Fashioned glass. Also, a hot redhead at Five Star on Chicago just gave me two fingers of Stagg (ow, that sounds really bad) for like $12 recently. I made sure to show my appreciation, let's just leave it at that.

wadewood
05-14-2012, 07:24
1. We do have a whiskey list. Those who don't aren't trying for great service. None and I mean none of my servers could be expected to remember all those whiskeys.

2. The percentage thing is a sliding scale. My house vodka is $10 per btl and we get 6.50 per 1.25oz. Killer huh? But most of our liquor sold is premium or crazy premium like Louis XIV which costs me $80 an ounce and we charge $100 an ounce. So on that one your percentage check will make u feel good. As a general rule for most of the "good stuff" I look for between 25%-33% cost.

3. A bottle that costs 25$ and is sold for 100$ after all the drinks are served is NOT a 75$ profit. Not even close! After the glass is bought (and broken) and the rent/lights/credit card commission/ labor/taxes/management fees/ insurance/etc. Ad naseum. The bartender is clearing more than the house on that bottle


Does your whiskey list include prices?

Agree that the markup should be a sliding scale and get lower as bottles get more expensive. An exception you might see is one off bottles that are not replaceable could be priced at "market" price. I say, skip these at drink them at your home bunker or the Gazebo.

I think most of us do realize the difference between gross and net profit and know bars/restaurants are running a for profit business.

Halifax
05-14-2012, 08:01
...
3. A bottle that costs 25$ and is sold for 100$ after all the drinks are served is NOT a 75$ profit. Not even close! After the glass is bought (and broken) and the rent/lights/credit card commission/ labor/taxes/management fees/ insurance/etc. Ad naseum. The bartender is clearing more than the house on that bottle



Actually that IS a $75 gross profit. The other variables that you mention are expenses, and not a part of cost of goods sold. The margins in the restaurant industry are insane compared to other traditional retail establishments. But hey... If you can get it... Well then... By all means.

StraightBoston
05-14-2012, 08:48
Back to the original question: $8 for a pour of WR is within a buck of "normal" in my experience. Reasonable prices for me are: a shot of anything mid-shelf is $5 or up; call bourbons are $7-8; "fancy" bourbons $10-12; up to $20 for Pappy 20 at a steakhouse.

But: as pointed out elsewhere, almost everyplace I go has only Beam white, the Beam Small Batch Collection, and Makers, so I'm usually drinking beer or a cocktail.

macdeffe
05-14-2012, 09:18
I wrote this a bit ago "why-i-dont-drink-whiskies-in-bars" :

http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-i-dont-drink-whiskies-in-bars.html

It's not that focused on bourbons, but maybe there is similar problems in bourbon bars ?

The title is a bit misleading as I often drink whiskies in bars, but sometimes a bit of exagarations is needed :-)

Steffen

politely
05-15-2012, 14:14
I'm a bit confused by some of the responses about tipping 40-50% for more generous pours. At first, it seems that the customer just pays more per pour, the same as if they had ordered more at the original price (with a smaller tip), but instead of the money going to the owner, it's being pocketed by the bartender, who is in essence stealing from the bar, unless it's been approved by the owner. Maybe it's just game theory with the customer & bartender winning and the bar owner losing? Different numbers will provide different outcomes, but here's one quick look:

Regular tipper who receives regular sized $10 drinks:
4 drinks x 1.5 oz x $10 = $40 + 20% tip = $48 for 6oz = $8/oz

Big tipper who receives extra large $10 drinks:
4 drinks x 2.0 oz x $10 = $40 + 40% tip = $56 for 8oz = $7/oz

So, in this situation, the customer pays less per oz and feels like a big shot, the bartender makes double tip and feels like a star, and the owner is out 2oz ($13.33) worth of drinks, but may have built up customer & employee loyalty?

Enoch
05-15-2012, 17:26
Right or wrong (and I think wrong) I was at a Kenny Chesney pre-show party with a cash bar. I tipped the bar tender generously as I always do because I tended bar in college. When they called last call I went up to get one last shot of bourbon. She pulled out a large cup and gave me about 8 oz and said since I took care of her she was going to take care of me. My point: generous tipping may affect the pour. (being a cute girl may also have the same effect). Now the two examples I have mentioned In this thread are the exceptions and i generally order wine or beer unless there is a bourbon I haven't had.?...........

..........and a good looking female bar tender may really rake in the tips, generous pour or not........ask my niece who works at Hooters.