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Sep 14, 2010 01:35 PM

Surcharge for drinks served up?

We went to Kate Mantilini last night for the first time. I was surprised to see a surcharge of $1.25 per manhattan we drank because we'd ordered them "up" (is it at all common for people to drink manhattans OTR?). I hadn't seen this anywhere before -- is this becoming a practice? Frankly, it seemed a little nickel-and-diming.

Kate Mantilini Restaurants
9101 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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  1. Saw this for the first time this weekend at Towne Stove and Spirits here in Boston. There was a $2 charge for shaking/stirring with ice and straining instead of being built on rocks. When I saw that on the menu, I ordered a beer. I guess it's an extra $2 for the bartender's time?

    I have heard a bartender say that they have to charge people more when a drink is served neat instead of on the rocks since they have to pour more liquid in to make it look full. That seems pretty ludicrous, but given the general public, I don't doubt that they've been bitched at for that and a hundred other petty things. The odd part is that there was an upcharge for doing less work, not more like the first example.

    3 Replies
    1. re: yarm

      >>The odd part is that there was an upcharge for doing less work

      I don't get what you mean by this - what was less work? There was an upcharge for serving it OTR?

      1. re: GraydonCarter

        There was an upcharge in the 1st example for a shaken/stirred-then-strained cocktail vs. on the rocks.

        In the 2nd, an upcharge for neat spirits poured vs. spirit served on the rocks.

        The 1st I experienced first hand, the 2nd was mentioned on a different thread on Chowhound.

      2. re: yarm

        Guys.....You can't have it both ways

        Next time your home take 1.5oz of booze or water or whatever and pour it into a rocks glass. Then do the same and pour it over ice. Take a look at that glass, that is one shot of booze. Now if you got served that at a bar you would be here complaining about that. Right?

        So bars in general give you a "double"...Booze is not cheat kids and the higher up on the self it goes the higher the cost. In that cost is the overhead.

        So when you get a a $1 to $2 up charge in a bill your getting it because there is more booze in the glass. If you don't see it on the bill, that means the cost is built in.

        It is pretty simple, tip what you want but not tipping a bartender for doing his job is foolish. Don't expect to get a 2nd look.

      3. I wonder if this will come back to bite them when they start getting smaller tips. Where I drink, people tip pretty well for mixed drinks.

        The other day I ordered a Rusty Nail and he shook it and served it neat in a martini glass... he has to be aware that shaking produces dillution earlier, while a drink on the rocks dillutes the drink later. So there is a difference.

        1. Their cocktail ("martini") glasses are probably greater in fluid ounces than their lowballs. In order for the drink to appear full, it requires more liquor. Ergo, surcharge. The opposite can also be true (larger neat pour required to fill the glass). It's pretty common.

          7 Replies
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            IMO, a bar would be much smarter to buy appropriately-sized glassware to avoid a surcharge that the customer is almost sure to dislike.

              1. re: EvergreenDan

                I guess with the golden rule with dealing with the public, the gripes would be about how small the glassware was. There's always something.

                My favorite gripe was at an absinthe bar crawl. The PR firm invited some foodies who were not cocktail drinkers much less absinthe fans. One of the drinks served at one of the destinations was a Sazerac. She griped "It's so small!" alternating with "It's too strong!". It didn't make much sense (until I realized that she was a vodka drinker who liked her booze diluted in copious amounts with fruit juice).

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  My usual saying for when I see The Powers That Be at work do something like this where I wish they would do it your way:

                  Oh, we couldn't possibly do it that way, it would be just far too easy.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    But, to agree with yarm above, then your custies would bitch about the small glassware. Somehow, the "standard" in the US has become those monster 10 oz. cocktail glasses, filled to the brim with apple "martinis".

                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      Oh, don't I know it. I would absolutely love a return to the 1930s style of drinking, where the drinks are a sane size. The monster martinis are a disservice all around. Sure it's generous, but one of those will put you under the table. Worse, you can't swig it down quickly, so the second half of the drink is room temperature.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        Just make the glassware consistent. I can be consistently huge, if you want. If you decide that a cocktail is going to be (say) 3 oz into the tin, then maybe a lowball that might be 6-7 oz, a cocktail glass that's 5-6 oz (leaving a comfortable margin to the top so the its not spilling everywhere, and a glass that doesn't look stupid with a 2 oz pour of a neat drink. All three of these drinks could be priced the same (or adjust as needed).

                        That way my top-shelf Manhattan, top-shelf bourbon neat, and top-shelf Martini can all be priced the same, no? And I'll be about equally tipsy after any of the three. Or more importantly, you can make me my Negroni up or on the rocks, at the same price, and still look equally good in the glass. Rocks for me, please. ;-)

                2. 'tis a vile practice indeed to charge a fellow more for his whiskey simply 'cause he's sage enough to prefer it neat. Especially when already charging him more for the privilege of "calling" his brand.