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Jul 8, 2011 08:24 AM

"Set ups"? - New Orleans bars

I am probably going to get this wrong, so please forgive my interpretation of what I heard.

My wife rented the first episodes of "Treme".

She was enthralled with the idea of gong to Bullet's Sports Bar on our next visit. (Though appalled at the fact that the three "rube" kids sent to Bullet's were portrayed as being from our hometown.)

To that end, she looked Bullet's up and sayd something about Bullet's offering "set ups".

I THINK she portrayed this as a carafe of booze, with the mixer of your choice, so that you can craft your own beverages.

I have never heard of such a thing...did I mis-hear? Is this common?

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  1. The set up is commonly available in bars with a traditionally black clientle, like Bullet's as you saw, or the Sandpiper on Louisiana for example. It's not a carafe of liquor but a pint bottle, plus your mixers and some ice.

    1. My experience with set ups as a bartender in Jackson, Miss., was this: the bar sold only beer. A set up was when a customer brought in a bottle of liquor and we'd set him or her up with the mixer of choice. So, for example, a glass of ice and a glass of coca-cola. This is the only place I've encountered the term. Not sure if this is the situation at Bullet's (never been), and I would be surprised if there is a New Orleans bar that sells beer but not liquor. I don't know that there is a differentiation between the two on our liquor licenses. For what it's worth, of course.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shiloh

        We have the same thing in Texas, where places without liquor licenses, that is only those that serve beer or wine, serve mixers for people who bring in liquor. It'ds not as prevelant as it was. In Texas, liquor wasn't served in bars and restaurants until the late sixties, when a law called "liquor by the drink" was enacted. Until then, set ups was the only way to go.

      2. This is common at many trendy bars now. Generally it comes with preferred seating area and a hefty price tag, but can be well worth it if you have a large group. Most places I've been to that offer this are not establishments that allow you to bring in your own liquor.

        14 Replies
        1. re: FoodChic

          The set up isn't really the same as bottle service. It's cheaper than buying the equivalent amount of cocktails individually, you get a smaller bottle of liquor than with bottle service, and the main idea is simply to save the busy waitress and bartender time by having you mix and serve your own drinks. Also with the set up you would tip separately, whereas bottle service usually includes the price of tip.

          1. re: uptownlibrarian

            The concept is gelling for me...many thanks.

            1. re: uptownlibrarian

              Yeah, bottle service and selling set ups are at completely different ends of the spectrum. Setups are still currently common in two types of places in addition to those already mentioned as well. "After Hours" clubs in places where its illegal to sell alcohol after say 2 AM, and they are common in strip clubs in areas where local government has banned the sale of alcohol anywhere where topless dancers are present.

              1. re: twyst


                Now the concept is "un-gelling"...:-)

                In New Orleans, does the bar sell you the pint, or do you schlep your own into the bar?

                1. re: Monch

                  They sell it to you. So for example, you would order a 7 & 7 set up, and you'd get a pint of Seagram's 7, with a couple bottles of 7 Up, an ice bucket and some plastic cups. It would cost like $25-$30, and you'd tip $7-$10. At least, that's been my experience. I'm sure it varies by bar.

                  1. re: uptownlibrarian


                    Bring a few people who can agree on a tasty beverage combination and you're all set!

                    I now understand, usual, you have been helpful and supportive..Hope all's well at HNOC.

                    1. re: Monch

                      I edited to add "tip," making more sense of the $7-$10 part.

                    2. re: uptownlibrarian

                      So essentially, it's exactly the same as bottle service, but on a smaller scale.

                      1. re: FoodChic

                        "So essentially, it's exactly the same as bottle service, but on a smaller scale."

                        Yeah, much like getting dinner at Mcdonalds is the same thing as getting dinner at Restaurant August, but on a smaller scale.

                        Restaurant August
                        301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

                          1. re: twyst

                            Snarky is correct. Although, there are other words I'd like to select.

                      2. re: Monch

                        I have seen it both ways. In N.O. I think most places sell the pint. The Sandpiper Lounge on Louisiana Ave, for example, does it this way.

                        In other places in the south, it is common for bars to have "beer only" licenses, but still allow customers to bring in their own liquor. The bar will sell cups of ice and mixers as "set ups."

                        Sandpiper Lounge
                        2119 Louisiana Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

                        1. re: Guy Caballero

                          Set ups are fairly common at parties/charity dances, etc. held in venues w/no liquor buy an entry ticket to a BYOB dance, and the venue sells set-ups to make a few more bucks. You generally get Ice, mixers of choice, plastic cups, cocktail napkins. These events sometimes have a cash bar w/donated liquor, but no table service. So you can BOYB, buy a set up, and save your crew the hassle of waiting at the bar.

                          1. re: Hungry Celeste

                            Yes, the only time I encountered set-ups in N.O. was at a private social group party at the old ILA Hall.

                2. The Candlelight Lounge will do you a setup for cheap money. Here it's a pint of booze, mixer, and ice. And, of course, the Treme Brass Band, BBQ out front, and rice & beans inside.

                  1. Funny how different the terminology is from Texas to Louisiana. Here (Texas), a set-up is basically just a bucket of ice, some glasses, and some mixers - BYOB. Then again, I had never heard the term "package store" until I overheard a couple of Louisiana tourists asking a clerk at the gas station where the nearest one was.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gilintx

                      The "package store" reference from Louisianians is odd...we don't have them (package stores, that is..we have plenty of Louisianians....). They must have been seasoned travellers