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drink menu annoyance

my biggest pet peeve for the past few months is the "one drink menu" per table habit of nearly every establishment in town. it's always been annoying, but lately it's driving me crazy. Case in point: table of five at Stoddard's-- which has an extensive beer and cocktail selection --getting a single drink menu, then getting approached by server asking about our progress on drink choices. . . while the first person to get his hands on the menu is about halfway through it. This sorta thing happens everywhere, nearly all the time. last night at coppa bar ("just getting drinks" the three of us even said!). last weekend at green street. brunch at deep ellum yesterday. please, this policy is killing me. Drink orders come first. if you're a restaurant or bar that prides itself on wine, beer, and/or cocktails, everyone should get a drink menu to peruse. No more huddling or frantically passing around the menu, no more last-minute pressured drink orders, and most importantly, less time wasted before a great drink meets your hand.

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  1. Agreed. Also, the iPad menus at Temazcal are not super-annoying until you get to the drinks section, then it's One. Drink. Per. Page. Terrible idea, not a good way to peruse a cocktail menu at all.


    250 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

    1. Tell them you want more than one menu. It'll annoy them that they have to do extra work, but if enough people annoy them they'll start just doing it for everyone.

      1. Yes! Thank you. I've always been baffled by this, too.

        1. I get the feeling that, for some reason, most restaurants print a very limited number of drink menus and then get stingy about them. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten the single drink menu for my table (followed just a few minutes after seating with "can I take your drink orders?") and then the server insists on collecting it. When I ask if we can keep it for further drink orders during our meal, they look awkward and say "....yyyyes.... but I might need to borrow it for other tables..."

          Print more! For cripes sake!

          2 Replies
            1. re: Boston_Otter

              +1. I may not want the same thing next time.

            2. This is a great point. I also can't stand when a place has an outdated drink menu. I can't tell you the number of times I go somewhere with a good amount of taps and/or bottles and I make a selection only to be told they don't have it. Sometimes it happens multiple times to which I just ask what DO they have. I understand there are costs associated with all of this but there has to be a better way.

              15 Replies
              1. re: scubahood10

                The union brewhouse in weymouth was the *worst* with this when I went there. They advertise having a monstrous beer list (bottles) and it is quite good for the location. The problem was that we weren't at the bar so I ended up having to give the server my top 5 choices every time she took an order as they were often out of stuff on the list. I asked, and she said that was just a sample list. WTF?

                The other problem is they'd do things like just list a brewery "Chimay", well, which chimay is it? "Uhh, there are more than one?". Thanks.

                1. re: jgg13

                  I know it only works because it is one big room, but Jacob Wirth's uses a GIANT chalkboard that has the all the beers and it is as simple as erasing when things change. At least it gives the style. I have seen stuff like "Sam Seasonal" which isn't then end of the world since they are pretty well defined but you always have to ask when it is close to changing but also "Harpoon tap" where they are saying they have one but what it is a complete guess...really?

                  Jacob Wirth Restaurant
                  31 Stuart St, Boston, MA 02116

                  1. re: scubahood10

                    Haha yeah. I don't mind the "XYZ Seasonal" as long as they're matching what's available in stores (which is increasingly becoming incorrect - oktoberfest & pumpkin beers are being released as we speak, but that's another rant altogether).

                    I like the chalkboard type setups, but as you note it only works in certain spaces.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      RIght...I went to two stores before the Pats preseason game and one had Sam summer and the other had Sam Oktoberfest and both had pumpkin beers. Again a bit off topic, but I just started seeing Halloween candy out. Has the world gone mad?!?

                      To get back to the drink menus, I was guilty of taking a few back in my more irresponsible years. Never realized how my actions might affect the mental health of others!

                      1. re: scubahood10

                        To be fair, Oktoberfest starts in 32 days. It's not nearly as far off as Halloween.

                        1. re: Fly

                          This mis-seasoning of beer isn't quite related to all of that. A year or two ago the demand for summer seasonals was so great that a lot of breweries had to release their fall seasonals early and they've never got back into synch.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            I don't buy that story - the push for seasonals coming out earlier and ealier has been happening for years - and if it was just out of synch problem, it could have been solved the following season - or the following summer at least by making more beer.

                            The reason why breweries keep releasing seasonals earlier and earlier is because people keep buying them earlier and earlier since they are available earlier. Its a chicken and egg kind of thing. And they sell better pre-season than they do at the end of the season/post-season, so it makes sense for brewers to put them out early to get a jump on their competition.

                            I don't mind early seasonals all that much - I don't have to buy them if I'm not in the mood for them. But what gets me is there are hardly any pumpkin beers to choose from come Thanksgiving.

                    2. re: scubahood10

                      mead hall also uses a giant chalkboard and places a red x'ed circle next to whatever tap is out. seems to work fine, but again, a giant space.

                    3. re: jgg13

                      This used to be my after work spot, and I ran into the same thing...though this was 4-6 years ago. Wonder if it's any better now.
                      Also wonder if the beer nerds have invaded since then, or if it's still really townie.

                      Their buffalo chicken bar pie was pretty awesome, though.

                      1. re: rknrll

                        I've seen it get mentioned over on the BA boards, particularly when they tap something Extra Special like KBS - but it does'nt seem to have anywhere near the cache of something like Hobo, Publick House, etc.

                        Publick House
                        1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                      2. re: jgg13

                        Haven't been in Bukowski's in quite a few years due to this and their ridiculously short pours, but they were the worst for advertising nice bottles of beer that didn't exist on their beer menu .

                        Also add on lack of pricing and pour sizes to your gripes. Its as if they expect me to just take it on the chin when I see they charged me $12 for 8ozs. of Chimay White, instead of just allowing me to avoid the bad value to begin with.

                        1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1. re: LStaff

                          This is THE biggest problem with the drink menu...the lack of prices. They make you feel like a miser if you start asking but everything has a value that is worth paying. Most places are only a dollar more for a "premium" draft over the standard so it is worth it but every once in a while I pay $10 for a Bass or Stella and suddenly the $1 Bud Light or the free water looks so good haha.

                          1. re: LStaff

                            I've never noticed a lack of pricing or pour sizes on the menu at either Bukowski's location.

                            1. re: robwat36

                              Lack of prices on menus is unforgivable but I don't recall a place doing that, including Bukowskis.

                              A beer list should include the following. Name of beer and brewery, ABV, price, pour size, and style of beer. Bonus points for location of the brewery and a short description of the taste.

                              Its not hard, but few places get it right. Imagine if you were looking at a wine list and all it said was the name of the wine and the price. Not even if it was red, sparkling etc. or where it was from. People would be outraged. Yet that is how most places treat beer.

                              1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                              1. re: robwat36

                                I guess the reply thread is hard to follow.

                                Two different paragraphs for two different thoughts. Buks - phantom beers - first paragraph. General gripe - second paragraph.

                        2. sadly drink menus are popular items for stealing at restaurants. People! for the sake of everyone's sanity, stop doing this!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: adventuresinbaking

                            At Clio, they let you keep the cocktail menu.

                            1. re: robwat36

                              At Moto (chicago) everybody gets his own menu, they let you keep the menu AND they let you eat it (its printed on rice paper with edible ink). My kind of place.

                          2. You are so right. This is a continual pain. I wonder if the one drink menu per table practice stems from the one wine list per table tradition, which was understandable back in the day when one person would order a single bottle for the table. But this makes no sense with cocktail and beer lists, and no longer makes sense in places where wines are sold by the glass and a party of four may end up ordering four different wines. Giving everyone a drink list might even result in more drink orders -- or at the least, more satisfied customers.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: katzzz

                              Sunset in Allston has a HUGE draft and bottle list, but thankfully they print many many copies fairly spread around the tables and bars.

                              However, this practice forces them to use the tiniest 4 point font in order to cram all that info in there, combined with dimmed lights, and and (ahem) more experienced pair of eyes, makes it difficult to read.

                              1. re: okra

                                Any bar with a decent tap list needs to go the printed menu route. Accuracy is way more important than the menu looking nice and being laminated. I want to see today's date at the top of the menu like they do at Lord Hobo.
                                Further props to Sunset for having enough menus that they keep them at the tables at all times. If you take the drink menu away you might as well just take away my business.

                                Lord Hobo
                                92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                              2. re: katzzz

                                I agree it might result in more drink orders. Especially leaving at least one drink menu at the table for perusal later - there's times I've thought of getting a second drink and was interested in trying something different and I usually just don't bother if I don't have the menu. What's really odd is, drinks are where they make their money, you'd think they would want to make it easier.

                              3. Boston 'hounds are not alone. Single copy drink menus are the norm in SE MI too.

                                1. I was just reading about what's going on in the Horn of Africa, and then came across this thread. You're right: only one cocktail menu per table is really annoying. I think the reason the offenders try to save a few bucks on menus is a lot simpler than what people in this thread are saying.

                                  It is simply because most people are not Chowhounds and ALWAYS order the same drink, no matter what's on the menu. There's rarely ever any need for more than one menu.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                    huh, maybe you should go around to every message board/discussion beginning with such an indignant rhetorical bomb. wait, don't stop there. why don't you just mention what's going on in somalia to everyone everytime they complain about anything. people will totally NOT think you are annoying. also, this post was clearly directed at establishments who aspire for great drinks and have lenthy, detailed menus. you know, chowhound type joints. seems like a pretty legit complaint, given the context. though it may seem pretty minor now that you've decided to expand this board to geopolitics and human tragedy. guess we'll all have to keep such things in mind whenever we engage here.

                                      1. re: Alcachofa

                                        Actually, Alcachofa, I think minneapolite has an excellent point. Why are you even frequenting this forum, if everything discussed here is trivial compared with the real problems of the world?

                                        As for the "always ordering the same drink" explanation, sure people have their favorites, but no one I know asks for the same drink every single time - even my friends and family who don't consider themselves foodies. Even if they did, providing one drink menu per table would only be efficient if three single-drink automatons always showed up in the company of one drink menu user, which seems unlikely. As far as I'm concerned, providing enough menus for everyone to have a look without being rushed is simply part of providing decent service - whether people are Chowhounds or not.

                                        By the way, I'm totally fine with having to request drink menus for the table, if an establishment doesn't provide them automatically for cost or eco reasons. But if we have four people and we ask for drink menus, please bring at least two - and don't ask 30 seconds later what we want when half of us haven't seen the menu. That's just silliness.

                                        1. re: jpalmer

                                          >don't ask 30 seconds later what we want when half of us haven't seen the menu. That's just silliness.

                                          That's a pet peeve of mine when ordering food at a counter too - and they say "can I help you?" while you are clearly still looking at the menu. Like I am supposed have every menu for every place I have ever been to or ever intend to go to in the future memorized and know exactly what I want the moment I step in the door. If no one is waiting behind me, I usually just ignore them completely and only make eye contact when I'm ready to order. Its amazing to me how many times they will keep saying "can I help you?" until you recognize them.

                                          And when sitting and ordering if you don't get your order in when the waitstaff wants you to order, always seems like it takes forever for them to get back to you as if they are trying to punish you for not being on their schedule. (I know that's not what they are doing, they have other things to do and you just didn't fit their time they alloted for you, but it just seems like it sometimes)

                                        2. re: Alcachofa

                                          It was just such a bizarre way to start a post. Imagine if everyone started the post with what they just did..."Just went to the bathroom" or "I had a great sales meeting and then went on to chowhound..." haha