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Extra charge for rocks or neat

s
Sinicle Mar 31, 2008 08:00 PM

Recently at a high-end restaurant we were charged $1.50 extra for each drink ordered "on the rocks." Explanation given: More liquor is needed for a "rocks" pour.

Two days ago at another high end restaurant, $1.50 was added to the charge for a single malt ordered "Neat." Explanation given: More liquor needed for a neat "pour."

Of course, neither charge was on the menu nor stated by server. I did not pay.

However, these two experiences were so nuts on several levels, including the the opposing explanations ( both of which are bogus in context) as well as the suggestion that the price for the single malt on the menu was for a rocks pour!!!

Is this a new trend?

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  1. f
    fiscuspv Mar 31, 2008 08:53 PM

    I think with extra charge is for a bigger pour. Rocks and neat pours should get an extra count from the bar tender while they pour it. This is in comparison to a highball which contains a mixer like vodka soda, or bourbon and coke. Bartenders??? Scotch drinkers???

    1 Reply
    1. re: fiscuspv
      Unplugged Mar 31, 2008 09:31 PM

      Yeah but still it's kind of dumb that they don't tell you about it, I mean, how hard would it be to throw some fine print on the scotch menu? Besides, the difference is probably half an ounce. Where are these restaurants that charge more for neat?

    2. e
      ed1066 Apr 2, 2008 11:25 AM

      This also implies that they use less than a "full pour" in their mixed drinks. The profit margin on liquor is already so huge, you wouldn't think a restaurant would need to do this...

      3 Replies
      1. re: ed1066
        bbbron Apr 2, 2008 01:16 PM

        That's the same thing that I find strange. Besides, how much more liquor can it REALLY be? It seems like the sheer differences in human error pouring drinks in different glasses would be greater. But then again, I'm usually on the receiving end of a cocktail...

        1. re: bbbron
          invinotheresverde Apr 5, 2008 09:50 AM

          At my restaurant, it's almost double the pour to fill a rocks glass.

          Also, to ed1066, the amount of liquor is different in each type of drink. There is no "one" set pour.

          1. re: bbbron
            b
            badmedicine Jul 22, 2011 10:32 AM

            All bartenders are trained and practice their pouring skills just before and just after the shift. There should never be any deviation beyond 1/8 oz or you will be removed from the bar.

        2. cocktailqueen77 Apr 2, 2008 01:36 PM

          This isn't a new phenomenon at all, in fact, it has been going on for quite some time. I admit that $1.50 is quite steep, but I suppose the type of restaurant is the resulting factor.

          When I first started working in restaurants (nine years ago), it was a 50 cent extra charge for "neat", "on the rocks", or "up". The charge is there because it wouldn't make sense to pay the same amount for a Bombay/Tonic -that has a three ounce pour of alcohol- as opposed to a Bombay/Martini ("up") that has a five ounce pour. It would benefit the martini drinker, since they would be getting more bang for their buck, but when tonic does not cost as much as alchol...well, you get where I'm going.

          I don't think that the explaniation of "More liquor is needed" is an accurate way to describe why an additional charge is added. When a customer orders a drink "neat, rocks, or up" the bartender does pour extra liquor, not because it is "needed", but because that is what makes it a complete drink. Whereas for a mixed drink, perhaps a vodka/tonic or rum/coke, that additional pour is excluded because otherwise the drink would be not be balanced.

          On the note about an extra charge for a scotch, or any other premium that is stated on a menu, that charge should already be factored into that price since it assumed that most patrons will order those neat or with some ice. I would question that restaurant in regards to that pricing (on another note, sometimes a restaurant uses a computer system that automatically adds a charge when the "neat, rocks, up" button is pushed, unbeknownst to server or bartender).

          24 Replies
          1. re: cocktailqueen77
            bbbron Apr 2, 2008 01:55 PM

            Much better explanation...you ARE the cocktailqueen!

            1. re: cocktailqueen77
              s
              Sinicle Apr 2, 2008 06:53 PM

              I appreciate your knowledgeable reply. But this leads to an almost untenable conundrum. If the menu says vodka is $9.50, then should there be an extra charge for both rocks and neat? Is the menu charge only for vodka plus....tonic, cranberry juice, etc. Methinks this is really just another profit center for the restaurant. In any event, it should be stated on the menu.

              1. re: Sinicle
                cocktailqueen77 Apr 2, 2008 07:41 PM

                Most menus don't state all alcohols and/or liquours prices. I would like to know where was it you were that had menus printed with prices next to them, since that would be almost impossible to maintain and keep track of (since prices and alcohols are always changing, revolving, etc).

                I can see how "cocktail" menus would have prices printed on them next to a special drink, or scotch, brandy, cognac. But to have a list of all vodkas or whatnot just seems bizarre.

                But on that hand, if they have a listed price then that should be that price, no matter how that alcohol was ordered - unless they have a subnote stating the extra charge issue.

                1. re: cocktailqueen77
                  s
                  Sinicle Apr 4, 2008 09:31 AM

                  The vodkas were not listed,but the rocks charge was a separate item on the menu. "Prime/Blue," was the restaurant. The scotches, of course, are listed by price, no charge for neat, but the computer did charge more than the menu price and this was corrected ( I did not refer to this in my original query).

                  Ruth's Chris also had the scotches listed by brand and I was charged for neat. No charge for rocks here.

                  1. re: Sinicle
                    cocktailqueen77 Apr 4, 2008 12:11 PM

                    If at Prime/Blue they had scotch listed with a price, then (with no exception unless ordered as a double) should you be charged an additional fee. Like stated earlier, the price of rocks/up/neat should already be factored into that printed price, yet (obviously) the computer isn't programmed specifically enough for this. If there is a rocks charge printed on the menu, then that is undisputable (it's the same as a fee for split plates, or automatic gratuity on a table above a number of people)...if it's printed, it is pretty much a contract.

                    I would be hestitant to go back to this restaurant again if they charged you the rocks fee for ordering a scotch/rocks. This shows a lack in attention to detail by management. This also mainly happens in chain type restaurants who rely heavily on their computer ("never failing or wrong") systems.

                    My advice, stop going to these places and frequent a locally owned bar/restaurant instead. Typically, the prices and quality are extremely better. Management is more educated and concerned, as are the employees.

                    1. re: cocktailqueen77
                      j
                      jimanne Apr 19, 2010 08:01 PM

                      I just ate at a restaurant where I ordered a 16-year-old scotch after dinner. I was charged an extra $1 for having the drink neat. I found this ridiculous and refused to pay it. Why would I pay $14 for a 16-year-old Lagavulin and expect to have it any way other than neat? When I questioned this extra charge the restaurant removed it, but I found it extremely infuriating to have this kind of price gouging. I didn't ask for a larger pour than what was implied by the menu price, and there was no indication anywhere on the menu that neat pours cost more. Thus I find cocktailqueen77"s explanation for a larger charge for neat pours to be insupportable.

                      1. re: jimanne
                        cocktailqueen77 May 1, 2010 12:05 PM

                        See my original post from 2008...

                        >> On the note about an extra charge for a scotch, or any other premium that is stated on a menu, that charge should already be factored into that price since it assumed that most patrons will order those neat or with some ice. I would question that restaurant in regards to that pricing (on another note, sometimes a restaurant uses a computer system that automatically adds a charge when the "neat, rocks, up" button is pushed, unbeknownst to server or bartender). <<

                        Ummm...if you had read throughout all my posts you would see that I actually agree with you -- that an extra $1 for neat pours on scotch (or any alcohol that would fall into the "this is almost ALWAYS ordered neat" category, like "99.9% ordered neat" category) is ridiculous. The price stated on a menu or by a bartender should be the final price...

                        >> I would be hestitant to go back to this restaurant again if they charged you the rocks fee for ordering a scotch/rocks. This shows a lack in attention to detail by management. <<

                        1. re: cocktailqueen77
                          b
                          badmedicine Jul 22, 2011 10:11 AM

                          I understand that you only drink scotch neat... why else would you drink it any other way. You have to understand that %90 of drinkers that come into a bar are complete morons and thus we as bartenders have to account for peoples' stupidity. There are those morons that want a rusty nail made with Oban 14. Yes its a crime in it's own right, but if that's what they want then that's what they get. A rusty nail w/ 1.5 oz of Oban should cost less than a Oban neat w/ 2.0 oz of scotch. And the 'rocks' charge makes sure that happens.

                        2. re: jimanne
                          b
                          badmedicine Jul 22, 2011 10:08 AM

                          Lets make it real simple...

                          1.5 oz Laguvulin 16 for $12 that's $4 per 1/2 oz.
                          2.0 oz Laguvulin 16 for $14 that's $3.5 per 1/2 oz

                          ... Your getting a deal bro!

                  2. re: Sinicle
                    cocktailqueen77 Apr 2, 2008 07:42 PM

                    Another thought...restaurants are not out to scam people. This is something that has happened for quite some time.

                    1. re: cocktailqueen77
                      b
                      Brandon Nelson Apr 3, 2008 09:03 AM

                      Scam or not its dishonorable as a business practice to charge any sort of premium when it isn't stated.

                      In California that practice would be a violation of weights and measures standards and subject to fine.

                    2. re: Sinicle
                      b
                      badmedicine Jul 22, 2011 10:51 AM

                      $9.50 is the 'cocktail' price... That is to say: 1.5 oz. + mixer
                      $10.50 is the "rocks" price... That is to say: vodka 'on the rocks' is not a cocktail! It has %25 more liquor in it. So you get %25 more liquor for %10 more price.

                      This is value plain and simple...

                      Here's an example... You and I go into a bar for some drinks. You drink Vodka on the rocks and I have vodka/tonic. You have 3 Vodka on the rocks @ $8 ea. + $1 rocks charge (total $27). You got 6 oz of total liquor (1.5 x3 + .5 x3 = 6 oz). I had 4 vodka n' tonics @ $8 ea. (total $32). I got 6 oz of total liquor (1.5 x4). So we both got 6 oz. of vodka but it cost you $5 less because you got a 'rocks' discount.

                      Here's another way of looking at it: 3 Vodka on the rocks = (1.5 oz. @ $8) x3 = $24
                      (1.5 oz @ $3) x1 = $3
                      You are getting a 4th cocktail portion of vodka for only 3 bucks!

                    3. re: cocktailqueen77
                      f
                      FrankJBN Apr 4, 2008 12:28 PM

                      "neat", "on the rocks", or "up"

                      Well then, if there is an extra charge for a drink with ice and for a drink without ice, when is there no extra charge?

                      Since when is there a difference between whiskey straight up and whiskey neat?

                      Seems like a load of something other than cracked ice to me.

                      1. re: FrankJBN
                        cocktailqueen77 Apr 4, 2008 01:28 PM

                        As stated before:

                        "The charge is there because it wouldn't make sense to pay the same amount for a Bombay/Tonic -that has a three ounce pour of alcohol- as opposed to a Bombay/Martini ("up") that has a five ounce pour. It would benefit the martini drinker, since they would be getting more bang for their buck, but when tonic does not cost as much as alcohol...well, you get where I'm going."

                        "When a customer orders a drink "neat, rocks, or up" the bartender does pour extra liquor, not because it is "needed", but because that is what makes it a complete drink."

                        Bar terminology:

                        Ordering ANYTHING "straight up" means shaken and then strained - basically, martinis/gibsons/manhattans, all which have a larger pour to make a complete drink.

                        Ordering ANYTHING "neat" means poured straight from the bottle into the glass. No ice. Again, a larger pour makes this a complete drink.

                        There is a difference. But both typically have more alcohol (see explanation above).

                        1. re: cocktailqueen77
                          f
                          FrankJBN Apr 4, 2008 01:30 PM

                          So whiskey straight up is not actually straight up but diluted with ice. how 'bout that?

                          Thanx for repeating everything, but that doesn't answer the question, which I will now repeat: "if there is an extra charge for a drink with ice and for a drink without ice, when is there no extra charge?"

                          1. re: FrankJBN
                            b
                            badmedicine Jul 22, 2011 10:03 AM

                            NO.... whiskey straight up is just that.... whiskey shaken in a martini glass. Whiskey neat is whiskey poured straight into a glass. Remember kids... the first step in ordering a cocktail is learning to speak english. Neat is neat - up is up. Its not rocket science.

                          2. re: cocktailqueen77
                            invinotheresverde Apr 4, 2008 01:58 PM

                            Queen, what you're saying makes perfect sense and is how the majority of places I've worked operate. I think FrankJBN is just being playfully argumentative.

                            Common sense dictates that a drink with a greater volume of alcohol will cost more than a drink (made with the same booze) with less, ice or no ice.

                            For example, all highball type cocktails (7 and 7, gin and tonic, etc) at my work contain X ounces of YourFavoriteSpirit and are topped with appropriate mixer to fill the glass. When a drink is ordered on the rocks, X ounces won't fill the rocks glass, so another ounce of booze is needed to correctly make the drink. Restaurants aren't in the business of giving booze away, so there's a charge.

                            Would you (diners) rather pay extra for your highball type cocktail with 1.5 onces of alcohol in it to cover the expense incurred by the on the rocks drinkers with 2.5 ounces or let them make up the difference themselves? Yeah, thought so.

                            Also, qc, doesn't it just drive you nuts when people don't know the difference between neat and up? :)

                            1. re: invinotheresverde
                              cocktailqueen77 Apr 4, 2008 02:16 PM

                              Thank you invino, flawlessly put as well. I have read your posts before and have always found them well-informed and sensible (and it does drive me nuts. I find that if I am not "in the know" of anything I will be the first to take educated advice instead of backing myself furthermore into a corner).

                              To FrankJBN, there is no answer to your question because it is not answerable since it makes no sense. I would have to repeat more of what I have already wrote, and that is unnecessary.

                              One last note, this type of charge is to benefit the customer (which invino mentioned above).

                              1. re: cocktailqueen77
                                m
                                MGC Apr 9, 2008 11:44 AM

                                'Well then, if there is an extra charge for a drink with ice and for a drink without ice, when is there no extra charge?'

                                Well, FrankJBN, I understand your question. If you are going to be charged extra for ordering with ice (on the rocks), and if you are going to be charged extra for ordering without ice (neat), apparently you will not be charged extra if you order it with a mixer as a cocktail.

                            2. re: cocktailqueen77
                              h
                              huanger Oct 4, 2010 09:40 PM

                              I realize I'm about 2.5 years late to the party, but felt like chiming in. Cocktailqueen77, you are correct in everything but answering FrankJBN's question. FrankJBN: there is an extra charge for a drink with ice and a drink without ice, but there is no extra charge for a drink with a mixer or water.

                              The OP was referring to his/her experience with scotch, I believe, and in my experience, more people order premium scotch WITH WATER than on the rocks or neat. A scotch with water would be served at the listed price, and neat/on the rocks use a larger pour. This was the practice at the hotel lounge I used to work at.

                              1. re: huanger
                                invinotheresverde Oct 5, 2010 06:45 AM

                                In fifteen years behind the bar, serving and as a sommelier, I've heard about three people order a scotch and water; maybe a thousand neat a/o on the rocks.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde
                                  magumpa Jul 25, 2011 09:48 AM

                                  My Grandfather used to say "Whisky is for drinking, water's for fighting over" whenever someone went near water while drinking scotch.

                                2. re: huanger
                                  b
                                  badmedicine Jul 22, 2011 10:13 AM

                                  The "rocks charge" doesnt mean they charge for ice.... all drinks come w/ free ice. The rocks charge means "add extra booze and money" for a drink 'on the rocks'.

                            3. re: cocktailqueen77
                              jspear Apr 10, 2008 08:01 AM

                              this is the absolutely correct response coctail queen. A drink that is a special pour should have the price of extra factored in, a mixed drink also. Any bar that I have poured in figures this into all tiers of their drinks and prices accordingly. If they are charging more for a neat drink, they are not pricing according to the way they are serving.

                            4. b
                              badmedicine Jul 22, 2011 10:00 AM

                              OK, here's my two cents as a 20 yr veteran bartender... Rocks charges are not at all new. The $1 up charge has been around for years. It provides a good value for bars and their customers. Let me explain. A standard cocktail is made with 1.5 oz. of spirits and juice or mixer. So a Vodka n' Tonic has 1.5 oz. of vodka and is topped off with tonic. So what if you dont want tonic? What if you want MORE vodka instead of the tonic as in the drink "Vodka on the Rocks"? Doesn't vodka cost more than tonic? Of course. If you poured 1.5 oz of vodka in a glass it will only fill about half way up. A guest would be upset if you brought them a half filled glass right? So... you add another 1/2 to 3/4 oz. of vodka and only charge an extra dollar. Look at it this way... say you bought a goose n' tonic for $9 at a club. That's 1.5 oz. for $9, which breaks down to $3 for ea. 1/2 oz of Goose, right? So if your willing to pay $3 for ea. 1/2 oz. of Goose, why are you not thrilled to get a 4th 1/2 oz. for only another $1? You're getting a bonus amount of Goose for 1/3 the normal asking price! ! ! i.e. you are getting something for FREE! Now if I pour a guest something for FREE, I expect a thank you at the very least. If I give you something for FREE and you cause a scene in my bar and make me break down simple 3rd grade math you probably are going to quickly find your name on my sh!t-l!st. You are already paying $30 for a steak that you can cook at home for $8.... you pay $2 for a glass of tea that cost .75 to make 2 gallons. You will gladly pay $9 for a shot of vodka that only costs $1 to buy. I think its slightly psychotic that anyone would buy anything from a bar or restaurant. It is pure madness that someone would spend all that money at a bar then complain when your bartender "Super Sized" your drink for only a buck!!! If you want value... eat at home. If you wanna give away all your hard earned money in some bar so you can dress up and look all pimp while chasing tail... then STFU and drink your cocktail... oh and don't forget to tip on the way out!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: badmedicine
                                b
                                budnball Jul 25, 2011 12:48 PM

                                Whoa man, do you need a vaction! Like 'em or not, Customers pay the bills! I don't need a barkeep to tell me how to enjoy MY drink. I order, you pour, I pay and tip, simple. where I come from the pour is the same, over ice or neat.

                              2. n
                                ncyankee101 Jul 23, 2011 12:11 PM

                                This thread also brought to mind something that I have encountered in this area, which is to say a lot of variation in the definition of what constitutes a single and double pour.

                                There are four different bars I have frequented in the last couple years, and all four differ on this.

                                The local whisk(e)y bar says a single (tasting) is 1 oz and a double is 2.

                                Another bar says 1.5 oz single and 2.25 oz double.

                                Yet another has 1.25 and 2, and a fourth one does 1 and 1.5 oz.

                                Very confusing.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: ncyankee101
                                  invinotheresverde Jul 23, 2011 02:39 PM

                                  I've always been of the 1.5/2.25 school.

                                  1. re: ncyankee101
                                    twyst Jul 23, 2011 02:49 PM

                                    Thats just going to vary by location and by the size of the glassware an estrablishment chooses to use. Almost everywhere I worked during my bartending days in new orleans was 1.25 and 2 oz respectively for standard mixed drinks (by the book anyway, it was more like 1.5 and three in practice)

                                    1. re: twyst
                                      magumpa Jul 25, 2011 09:54 AM

                                      Here in Sydney there is no free pouring (it's illegal) apart from a few rebellious venues. We don't have any kind of rocks charge or anything but our standard pour is 1oz and a double is 2oz. We have a few Whiskey and Rum bars that will pour 1.5oz neat but that is about it.

                                      Also, badmedicine's call about people wanting Rusty Nails made with Oban 14 made me smile. Reminded me of last weekend when I had two weekend warriors come into my bar after a day at the track and demand two shots of our "Most expensive Henny". After advising them against it, I watched these two grown men shot Hennessy Paradis and then get angry when they realised they needed to pay me $80.

                                      1. re: magumpa
                                        n
                                        ncyankee101 Jul 25, 2011 10:09 AM

                                        I always find it entertaining when people demonstrate their "sophistication" by ordering fine sipping liquor and then shooting it or mixing it with coke.

                                        1. re: magumpa
                                          k
                                          kagemusha49 Feb 11, 2013 03:22 PM

                                          In Sydney, I had a neat scotch IN the Rocks!

                                    2. JMF Feb 11, 2013 06:46 AM

                                      http://www.businessweek.com/articles/...

                                      1. b
                                        brannondlb Feb 20, 2013 12:12 PM

                                        I know this was posted so many years ago, but I'll respond anyway. A mixed drink should contain 1.5 ounces liquor, a rocks drink should be 2 ounces and a martini should have 3 ounces. Please keep in mind that, in most states, restaurants and bars pay more liquor than you would shopping at a liquor store. I live in N.J. We pay, for example, $28 for a case of coors lite. We pay almost $24 for a liter of absolut. I know the liquor store is less expsensive. Restaurants/bars pay an added state tax. If we were caught using non-taxed liquor, our license would be pulled automatically and fined very heavily. So when you are sitting home thinking how you could make your own drink for much less, you can!!!

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