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How to word invitation- not paying for drinks

lemonseleven Dec 24, 2013 03:36 PM

I am hosting a Chinese New Year Dinner Party at a favorite restaurant. I plan to pay for dinner for everyone invited, but I'd like guests to foot their own drink bill. What is the most tactful way to communicate this in the invitation?

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    Hobbert Dec 24, 2013 05:17 PM

    There isn't one.

    83 Replies
    1. re: Hobbert
      susancinsf Dec 25, 2013 11:37 AM

      So, if there isn't one, I guess that means that people with religious or personal objections to alcohol are not allowed to entertain, in your view of the world? (or worse yet, have to foot the bill for something they can't or won't partake of themselves?) Seriously, when did drinking become a required part of hospitality? Are we all *that* dependent on alcohol?

      If it were my party and I didn't want to host alcohol, I'd just not provide it at all, and I would instruct the restaurant that I am not purchasing alcohol under any circumstances. I'd offer sodas, some nice tea, and water, and pick a place with a bar and those who wanted it would be free to go into the bar and order (and pay for at time of ordering) a drink or glass of wine. The restaurant would be clearly instructed (in writing if I thought it was necessary) that those instructions would be given to any who ordered a drink or wine. I see no reason to put it in the invitation, as it is an invitation to dinner, not invitation to drinks and dinner. I see no reason why my guests should assume I am providing alcohol. If I was inviting someone I knew expected alcohol, I might send them a private email 'warning' them or suggesting they might want to bring a bottle (and expect to pay corkage).

      Edited to add: To be clear, I don't object to the wording 'cash bar' or 'cash bar only' on an invitation if the OP believes that alcohol is expected. However, I do object to the idea that it is needed, and to the idea that one cannot be hospitable unless one offers alcohol, and that thus there is no way to avoid paying for alcohol while being a good host. For the OP: I think it is more important to make your intentions clear to the restaurant than to your guests: if someone does order wine, beer or a drink and you haven't specified to the restaurant otherwise, it is likely to end up on your bill.

      1. re: susancinsf
        Hobbert Dec 25, 2013 02:41 PM

        Hi, susanincf. Hope you had a lovely Christmas. Surprisingly enough, my husband and I don't drink for religious reasons. Has nothing to do with whether my guests drink or not. Here's my opinion: when you host, you actually host. Not just partially. Sure, you can *just* buy drinks or appetizers or entrees or whatever for your guests, but I find it tacky. Ymmv.

        1. re: Hobbert
          Green_Shartreuse Dec 26, 2013 11:29 AM

          Exactly this. I don't believe in half-assed hosting.

          1. re: Green_Shartreuse
            Hobbert Dec 26, 2013 11:34 AM


            1. re: Hobbert
              fourunder Dec 26, 2013 02:16 PM

              In this day of the litigious society we live in....I don't think by not offering or paying for someone to to get annihilated with free booze is considered half-assed hosting.

              It's simply being pragmatic in many cases.

              1. re: fourunder
                Hobbert Dec 26, 2013 03:04 PM

                Eh. I don't hang out with people who get annihilated so I'm not concerned about getting sued.

                1. re: Hobbert
                  fourunder Dec 26, 2013 09:48 PM

                  Most people can have one drink per hour and remain under the threshold for impairment....if they have more, then they most likely will be over.....if they get into trouble, it will be in the form of an accident that involves others.....it's the others that will sue you....the ones who hung out with you.
                  ; 0 )

                  1. re: fourunder
                    fourunder Dec 27, 2013 09:47 AM

                    the ones who hung out with you.

                    That should have been...

                    NOT the ones who hung out with you.

                    1. re: fourunder
                      Chemicalkinetics Dec 27, 2013 10:12 AM

                      <it's the others that will sue you....the ones who hung out with you.>

                      Is this really what American laws have come to? Or should I say the count system? Someone get drunk in your party, and you get sued for their accidents?

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        fourunder Dec 27, 2013 10:14 AM

                        yup...but I clarified with the post below,

                        NOT by the ones who hung out with you, but by the ones who get in the accidents with the ones who hung out with you.

                        Not the courts....but by the lawyers...They attach everybody.

                        1. re: fourunder
                          Chemicalkinetics Dec 27, 2013 10:26 AM

                          Thanks. Now, I know more about the American law system.

                          Wait. Now, I have another question. Serious one.

                          A) If I provide free alcohol in a party (say wedding), and a guest got drunk and get into a car accident, then you are saying that I can get sued.

                          B) Now, if I host a party with a cash bar, and a guest bought himself/herself the alcohol, got drunk and get into an accident, then am I not responsible?

                          What I am trying to understand is:

                          Am I responsible because I financially paid for the alcohol (only apply to scenario A) Or am I responsible because I hosted an even which someone got drunk and I let that person leaves (apply to scenario A and B)?

                          Thank in advance.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            MrsPatmore Dec 27, 2013 10:37 AM

                            Laws relating to social host liability vary widely under state laws. A more detailed explanation would require an extremely lengthy and off topic post, so I'll refrain.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              fourunder Dec 27, 2013 10:40 AM

                              A. You definitely will be sued

                              B. You probably will be sued, as the strategy of all attorneys is to attach everyone and anyone possible who has even the smallest link to the event. That would include, but not limited to:

                              The host
                              The venue
                              The Bartenders

                              30+ years ago, I was sued as a bartender....the specifics of the case were I had arranged a barter deal between a country club for free golf and beverage for my bosses at the place where I worked at the time(restaurant)....in exchange for the CC to have free food and beverage at the Restaurant.

                              Everything was fine for a couple of years, but then one night an employee of the CC brought a friend in the early evening for dinner and drinks....they left before 9PM....only for this friend to return at closing time. We did not serve him and offered him a cab, but he got in his car when no one was looking and sped off. Subsequently, he hit two cars, got out of his car and was killed by oncoming traffic.

                              His estate sued the two cars he hit, as they were county and municipal vehicles, the restaurant, the Country Club and myself...although I was later dropped from the case.

                              The two cars he hit...the occupants of both cars sued the restaurant and the Country Club and the employee.

                              This would happen if you held the party in your home as well.

                              1. re: fourunder
                                Chemicalkinetics Dec 27, 2013 10:46 AM

                                Thanks for your information.

                                <His estate sued the two cars he hit>

                                I don't know to laugh or to cry....

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                  coll Dec 28, 2013 06:42 AM

                                  Hey, it was their fault they were in his way!

                                2. re: fourunder
                                  MrsPatmore Dec 27, 2013 11:46 AM

                                  With all due respect (and I have a lot of respect for your food knowledge, fourunder) you have completely misstated the current status of the law governing social host liability in the majority of states.

                                  I try not to correct these types of comments in general because a full-blown discussion of the history and evolution of social host liability laws is necessary to any reasoned discussion of the subject, and far outside the scope of this forum.

                                  Despite your personal anecdotes, blanket statements like, "You definitely will be sued" and "the strategy of all attorneys is to attach everyone and anyone possible who has even the smallest link to the event" are misleading and inflammatory.

                                  In fact, the common laws that governed social host liability theories of 30 years ago have been greatly restricted (and in some cases eliminated) in nearly every state by legislative action. Lastly, it is impossible to make blanket statements regarding social host liability as it is an area that is controlled by state law and as such, varies from one jurisdiction to another.

                                  1. re: MrsPatmore
                                    jrvedivici Dec 27, 2013 11:51 AM

                                    Ok let me help Fourunder out since I am a native of his home state;

                                    " In New Jersey you will definitely be sued"

                                    (and I do believe that to be accurate for this State)

                                    1. re: jrvedivici
                                      fourunder Dec 27, 2013 12:03 PM

                                      Chem had some history here too, if not mistaken.

                                      1. re: fourunder
                                        Chemicalkinetics Dec 27, 2013 12:12 PM

                                        Of course, I am in New Jersey. Don't you know Jrvedivici and I are the same person with two different/split personalities?


                                      2. re: jrvedivici
                                        MrsPatmore Dec 27, 2013 12:08 PM

                                        Obviously this is not the forum to engage in a debate about the social host and dram shop laws of New Jersey or elsewhere, but I'll just note here that there are plenty of penalties for prosecuting frivolous and/or baseless claims, and I can assure you that these penalties (which are in the form of state statutes and/or court rules) are regularly enforced. Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

                                        So, I'll be taking fourunder's advice regarding the fresh ham that we'll be cooking this weekend @210F for 12 hours . . . but I'll not be accepting his legal advice!

                                        With sincere best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy holiday season to all, MrsP :-)

                                        1. re: jrvedivici
                                          coll Dec 28, 2013 06:43 AM

                                          In New York too. I got sued once by a former employer right after I quit, for something which had no grounds and I had the signed paperwork to prove it; but it took two years and much lawyer money to make it go away. But that was all they wanted anyway, to aggravate me. Learned a lot from that incident how it all works, the hard way.

                                          1. re: coll
                                            hill food Dec 29, 2013 01:50 PM

                                            people get pissy over nothing. I knew someone once who was fired for giving her resignation notice.

                                            1. re: hill food
                                              monfrancisco Dec 29, 2013 02:02 PM

                                              I know someone who did that routinely-- he didn't want a malcontent hanging around for two weeks. Depends on the circumstances, obviously. But that approach and reason would never have occurred to me. Just kind of interesting.

                                              1. re: hill food
                                                coll Dec 29, 2013 03:46 PM

                                                Oh yeah, my next company did that to me too. Ha I got the last laugh and got UI, on their dime!

                                                1. re: coll
                                                  hill food Dec 29, 2013 06:04 PM

                                                  this person was trying to be nice and gave extra notice, we all knew she was off to grad school in a month or two anyway, the boss and I were new, the company was in transition and we all could have used her insight, yet UI was denied (as she'd given notice and they just made it sooner than expected). total clusterf*ck.

                                                  1. re: hill food
                                                    coll Dec 29, 2013 06:19 PM

                                                    I was going for Family Medical Leave of Absence, after 20 years at this particular place. And they knew it, just cut me off at the pass. No biggie.

                                          2. re: MrsPatmore
                                            fourunder Dec 27, 2013 11:56 AM

                                            You are correct about the blanket statements and the restrictions....I owned a liquor license in NJ which I only recently sold, so I'm aware of my area...and much of the dram shop laws were drawn over the Fantasy Island case originating out of NJ....Yes the liability may be limited....but that doesn't stop the lawyers from initiating cases.....They hope for settlements, not convictions....they do not care about who is really responsible....if they did, then the true liability/responsibility would rest on the drunk only

                                            Using cars as an example....my employees and friends have gotten into accidents and I've been sued both as an owner of the company and personally as the owner of the vehicles. I've been in one chain reaction accident...and the person who i hit from behind sued me, as well as her husband for being unable to have physical relations with her....so I do have some unfortunate experience to share.

                                            Just look at the class action suits over the Target fiasco.

                                            BTW..thanks for the kind words....they have not gone unnoticed.

                                            1. re: fourunder
                                              MrsPatmore Dec 27, 2013 12:17 PM

                                              I will not disagree that there are unscrupulous lawyers just as there are unscrupulous people in every profession.

                                              Sadly, what gets lost in the over-generalization of such topics is that each case is very fact specific.

                                              There are legitimate damage claims just as there are illegitimate claims. And I can tell you that there are defense attorneys who are just as unscrupulous as any claimant's attorney.

                                              But the existence of these abuses (for which there are remedies, as I mentioned above) does not automatically mean that each and every case lacks merit.

                                              Anyhow, we're looking forward to serving that fresh ham on Sunday, fourunder! LOL I did show your pictures to some folks here and they're quite excited. So thank you for taking the time to not only provide the recipe but also the photos.

                                              1. re: MrsPatmore
                                                Chemicalkinetics Dec 27, 2013 12:21 PM

                                                Leave fourunder ALONE!


                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                  MrsPatmore Dec 27, 2013 12:35 PM

                                                  OK chem - I promise! Actually one of my 2014 resolutions is to avoid the NAF board because I really do come to CH for talk about food and *somehow* I seem to get sucked into conversations about other stuff . . . including that recent thread that you started about tipping. I didn't participate -- and wow did that require self-restraint -- but reading it was a hoot hoot hoot!

                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore
                                                    Chemicalkinetics Dec 27, 2013 12:40 PM

                                                    Oh, I didn't even know it is a NAF. Man, I should get the heck out of here too.

                                                    You know I was joking about the "Leave him alone", right? I just thought it is a funny video.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                      fourunder Dec 27, 2013 12:44 PM

                                                      That tipping thread...My arse still hurts from the spanking.

                                                2. re: MrsPatmore
                                                  fourunder Dec 27, 2013 12:42 PM

                                                  Thanks for that...but having been through the process, I also know for claims to go forward, they have to qualify.....Are you doing a Fresh Ham or Shoulder?




                                                  shameless promotion, I know...btw...who's the lawyer in the family?

                                                  : 0 )

                                          3. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            fourunder Dec 27, 2013 10:46 AM

                                            I also had an account that had beer delivered to the office on Friday's for staff....it was a huge national and very well known Company (Computer/Consulting/Training). After one Friday, one employee got drunk and got into their car and onto the NJ Turnpike where she plowed into the rear of a car with multiple family members that was parked on the shoulder....Some of the occupants were killed. The Company was sued for a very large award/settlement and the driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter or homicide, whichever is correct or appropriate. She obviously did some time and was also sued....probably for wrongful death.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              jrvedivici Dec 27, 2013 10:48 AM

                                              There is a basic flaw in your question vs. what Fourunder was saying.

                                              You are asking first person, about the person consuming the alcohol, whereas Fourunder is speaking about the people whom the person consuming the alcohol get's into an accident with. (God Forbid).

                                              The two scenario's vary.

                                              1. re: jrvedivici
                                                fourunder Dec 27, 2013 10:55 AM


                                                I think the highlighted comment ...was an error on my part that did not include *NOT* before <it's the others that will sue you.... *NOT* the ones who hung out with you.>...

                                                Which I corrected

                                                1. re: fourunder
                                                  Chemicalkinetics Dec 27, 2013 10:56 AM

                                                  No, we understand. At least, I did. I sort of did that "fill in the blank" thing.

                                                2. re: jrvedivici
                                                  MrsPatmore Dec 27, 2013 11:53 AM

                                                  jrvedivici, in some jurisdictions, there are facts wherein the person consuming the drinks (who was later injured) could have a claim against the vendor (e.g. bar). These cases are very fact specific. As much as people want to be able to generalize, it's just not possible given the variations of state law. And these laws are frequently amended. So the law governing social host liability in 2013 may be completely different from the law that existed even just a couple of years ago.

                                                3. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                  Teague Dec 31, 2013 08:15 PM

                                                  No, you will not get sued - but people who don't drink in America are encouraged, and willing, to be righteous about it and use this as one of many arguments why their weak lemonade-half a biscuit-hospitality is acceptable and morally superior.

                                                  Your insurance could be a target, but most homeowners insurance will explicitly disallow such a claim. Also, providing free hospitality which a guest then abuses does not give rise to a valid claim under american common law under most if not all circumstances. Somebody would have to take that on a contingent fee, and I assure you it isn't attractive for purposes of either liability or collection.

                                                  1. re: Teague
                                                    fourunder Dec 31, 2013 11:52 PM

                                                    You may want to brush up on social host laws....


                                                    I'll let you do your own research to see if there have been any amendments

                                                    1. re: fourunder
                                                      mcf Jan 1, 2014 08:59 AM

                                                      Seriously, folks have been prosecuted for this in my neck of the woods. And successfully sued.

                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                    Rick Jan 1, 2014 03:15 PM

                                                    The last few parties i've been to hosted by a company included 2 drink tickets per person. In no way do I believe that was done to limit costs. This IS the society we live in today.

                                                    1. re: Rick
                                                      Ashforth Jan 5, 2014 05:27 PM

                                                      Maybe it's because a company function is no place to get trashed, and if the company provides unlimited booze, some folks will get drunk and then will likely drive. Leaving out the possibility of a lawsuit (and by the way, when did it get worse to sue someone than to injure or kill them while driving drunk?), maybe the employer doesn't want to risk being partially responsible for that for reasons that involve morality. That's the crazy idea that occurs to me.

                                    2. re: Green_Shartreuse
                                      chartreauxx Dec 26, 2013 02:27 PM

                                      let's flip this around. by this reasoning, if i invited my friends out for drinks on me, and someone noticed there was a chateaubriand on the food menu and wanted to order it, i'd be a half-assed host for not buying it? logic doesn't hold. dinner doesn't by default include drinks, and it doesn't make you a "half-assed" or "tacky" host not to provide alcohol. in my opinion.

                                      1. re: chartreauxx
                                        Green_Shartreuse Dec 26, 2013 04:07 PM

                                        I 100% disagree with you. A celebratory dinner absolutely implies drinks. Dinner and wine/drinks go hand in hand. If you host, you host.

                                  2. re: susancinsf
                                    Chemicalkinetics Dec 25, 2013 02:58 PM

                                    The original poster knows about his guests better than anyone of us do. You are correct that some people are not allowed to drink due to personal/religious/health reasons. Still, historically speaking, there is something to be said about "buying drink for someone" or "Your drink is on me".


                                    (read subtitles for 10 seconds).

                                    <I see no reason to put it in the invitation, as it is an invitation to dinner, not invitation to drinks and dinner. >

                                    This entirely depends on the crowd. The worst thing to do is to set the wrong expectation. I applaud the original poster effort to minimize the misunderstanding upfront. Some people do not assume free alcoholic drinks, while some do. Since the original poster bought this up, I assume there is a reasonable chance that his crowd has a tendency to assume so.

                                    At the end, the original poster knows his guests better and has to make his version of "tactical" language. He has to somehow make it clear that the alcohol is provided or not. His crowd may assume one way or the other.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      susancinsf Dec 25, 2013 05:02 PM

                                      I agree that some people expect alcohol. However, part of my point is that it could well be that the OP thinks informing guests is the best way to avoid running up an unexpected tab. As I tried to point out: I don't think it is: informing the restaurant is a more reliable way of avoiding bill 'surprises', IMO.

                                      Obviously some people expect alcohol at all times. Whether they should expect that the host will always pay for it is another matter. The idea that someone who doesn't drink for religious reasons would pick up the tab for others, because it is 'expected', baffles me. I think under those circumstances it is rude to expect a drink. I base this on discussions I've had with non-drinking relatives: when my daughter became Muslim one of our first conversations was about how to handle the tab for drinks when we went to dinner together: she made it clear that her beliefs precluded buying me an alcoholic drink even though she was hosting. This doesn't bother me in the least but then, while I do drink I don't find alcohol to be a necessary part of any celebration. Indeed, one of the best parties I ever attended was her pre-wedding dinner/dance for out of town guests and relatives, held at a hotel. No alcohol served, great music and dancing (the entertainment was topped only by the incredible band at her wedding reception the next day), fabulous food, and a high end setting. If anyone really wanted or needed a drink the hotel bar was right down the hall.

                                      1. re: susancinsf
                                        Hobbert Dec 25, 2013 05:11 PM

                                        I agree that in your daughter's case, no one should expect her to buy alcohol as a host. However, there's no indication that religion plays a factor in the OP's query. Frankly, that makes the choice quite simple.

                                        On a personal note, my husband doesn't drink due to his religion and I don't drink to honor his religion. He doesn't care if others drink in his presence and doesn't have any issue buying alcohol for others.

                                        I think we can disregard religion in the OP's post.

                                        1. re: Hobbert
                                          susancinsf Dec 25, 2013 05:38 PM

                                          'I think we can disregard religion in the OP's post'.

                                          Why? because the OP didn't specify religion as a reason? I wouldn't make any such assumption, myself. I've known a number of people who don't broadcast their religious beliefs, and who, as a result, have to figure out other ways to avoid situations that might be uncomfortable for them. But, as I try to say in another post, I do believe that the OP's reasons are irrelevant. If he or she doesn't want to pay for alcohol, he or she should feel free to host an event without alcohol, without her guests thinking it is rude to do so, regardless of the reason. Just IMO, of course.

                                          1. re: susancinsf
                                            Chemicalkinetics Dec 25, 2013 06:02 PM

                                            <Why? because the OP didn't specify religion as a reason?>

                                            First, because the original poster said the word "foot their own drink", so it sounds like a money thing. Second, if I am a Muslim or a Buddhist or whatever who believes alcohol is evil, then the matter won't even be paying/footing the bill. I would most likely ban alcohol at the my party. Money won't even be an issue at that point.

                                            It would be like a Muslim banning pork in the party. You said your daughter is a Muslim, right? I assume she probably banned pork in her wedding party, and not just merely asking the guests to foot the bill for pork dishes, right?

                                            <he or she should feel free to host an event without alcohol, without her guests thinking it is rude to do so, regardless of the reason.>

                                            Hmm.... you do understand that is what we are trying to avoid right? Of course, the host should feel free to host without paying for alcohol. We are trying to help the original poster to nicely phrase it to his/her guests.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              susancinsf Dec 26, 2013 10:55 AM

                                              I think you miss my point, or I miss yours. My original response was to a statement that there is *NO* good way to let folks know that alcohol will not be hosted. I agreed that it is fine for the host to let people know nicely (and as I already said, reasons really aren't relevant, and the host should not feel an obligation to state the reason, whether it is religious or other). My issue is with the attitude that there is no nice way to state it. Actually, I admit it, I have an issue that there is a need to even state it: I will say it only one more time: if I am invited to 'dinner' then dinner is what I expect. I consider it rude to expect more from the invitation than is offered. Again, and for the last time, obviously that pushes some buttons for those who believe that the absence of alcohol is so unusual that it must be explained. We must agree to disagree on that point.

                                              p.s.: Just FYI, there was alcohol provided at some of the wedding parties hosted by my Daughter's Muslim in-laws. (they are in Tunisia, where weddings go on for several days. Hence it was 'parties' not just one 'reception' or 'party'.) In my admittedly somewhat limited experience, what it means to be observant varies as much in that religion as in any other.

                                              1. re: susancinsf
                                                Chemicalkinetics Dec 26, 2013 11:18 AM

                                                <I think you miss my point, or I miss yours.>

                                                Yes, and I think it is both. (see below).

                                                <My original response was to a statement that there is *NO* good way to let folks know that alcohol will not be hosted.>

                                                Ah. I see. That wasn't my point.

                                                <My issue is with the attitude that there is no nice way to state it.>

                                                I think there is a nice way to state it.

                                                <Actually, I admit it, I have an issue that there is a need to even state it>

                                                I think that is our real difference. I do think it is important to state it because some people can get confused. I am not saying that most people will get confused. I am just saying that some will.

                                                <I consider it rude to expect more from the invitation than is offered.>

                                                Maybe. But why not eliminate this confusion? I do agree with you that MOST people I know won't assume that, but some will.

                                                <In my admittedly somewhat limited experience, what it means to be observant varies as much in that religion as in any other.>

                                                Yeah, it depends a lot. I have a couple Muslim friends from Turkey who drink more quiet a bit. You probably have more Muslims drink alcohol than Mormons do.

                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                janetofreno Dec 27, 2013 11:47 PM

                                                Personally, I wouldn't be offended by an invite that said "no host bar" That pretty much says it all.

                                                That being said, I agree with Susan that a dinner invitation need not include alcohol nor should it be expected. And sometimes folks who are trying to keep the bill down will provide, say, wine with dinner and instruct the wait staff to let folks know that other drinks are on the individual. Heck, I've done that.

                                                But if one doesn't want to serve alcohol for whatever reasons, there is no need to explain why, nor would I expect it. I have some good friends that have what can only be described as a "party house": plenty of room to socialize, great open kitchen, beautiful swimming pool, etc. They often host get-togethers. And when they send the invitation, they always say something like: "We'll have iced tea, lemonade and sodas. Please bring your favorite beer or wine if you would like." I know for a fact that they are not members of a religion that prohibits alcohol. Yet they have never provided alcohol at one of their many parties. I have never asked them WHY they don't provide alcohol; (money is also clearly not the reason) and I never would. Its just none of my business. But clearly they are fine if others bring it; they have always had wine glasses, corkscrews, etc available. And I have NEVER cared that they never provided alcohol....It just isn't expected.....

                                                1. re: janetofreno
                                                  EWSflash Dec 28, 2013 01:01 PM

                                                  I'm glad to finally see somebody mention "no-host bar" as an option. The reason doesn't really matter, as long as I know about it beforehand and don't get shut down by a waiter, or worse, my host, when trying to order a drink. My only question would be whether the host simply doesn't want to provide drinks, or if my host objects to alcohol, period, for whatever reason. That would make the difference whether I wandered off and got my own drink or not.

                                                  1. re: EWSflash
                                                    janetofreno Dec 28, 2013 08:39 PM

                                                    well, as I learned elsewhere on this thread, apparently the term "no host bar" is not understood in many parts of the country. I had no idea it was a regional dialect. So apparently folks aren't familiar with the term in many areas, or possibly interpret it differently.......(ie several mentioned they thought it meant "make your own drinks"). Learn something every day.....

                                                  2. re: janetofreno
                                                    Green_Shartreuse Dec 28, 2013 02:28 PM

                                                    If they don't mind people bringing booze, I can't shake the impression that they're just being cheap.

                                                    1. re: Green_Shartreuse
                                                      fourunder Dec 28, 2013 02:40 PM

                                                      It may not be that they are cheap....maybe they got burned once before...

                                                      I used to go out with a crew that drank heavy.. Everyone took turns reciprocating with the exception of a couple of mooks....After a while, not with the crew, but whenever I was out and these two were in attendance...one of my friend told me I was as good a guy as him because I didn't buy as many drinks as him....I told Him i would always buy as many drinks for him as he could consume, but not his friends...so it wasn't that i was not a s generous as him....just not a s stupid.

                                                      People take advantage.. When my father owned a bar, we would buy back. One customer, would drink a bottle of beer or drink Johnny Red....when you bought the drink, he always has Johnny Black.

                                                      maybe the host just doesn't want someone taking advantage of him...or he's had prior bad experiences of some sort.

                                                      1. re: fourunder
                                                        Green_Shartreuse Dec 28, 2013 03:09 PM

                                                        If you're providing in a controlled scenario like a party or a dinner out, I don't see how it's possible to take advantage. I mean, if you have that little faith in the crew you're running with, have the restaurant print a limited drink menu. At your home, offer just a few things, but offer *something*.

                                                        1. re: Green_Shartreuse
                                                          fourunder Dec 28, 2013 03:11 PM

                                                          I've owned a restaurant....people steal everything....I've thrown parties....people take home extra booze in the coolers ...it happens.

                                                          1. re: fourunder
                                                            Green_Shartreuse Dec 28, 2013 03:18 PM

                                                            If you let guests in your coolers, that's your B.

                                                            This is a dinner party- no one will be stealing.

                                                            1. re: Green_Shartreuse
                                                              fourunder Dec 28, 2013 03:28 PM


                                                              I thought we were talking about the home party janet mentioned.

                                                              1. re: fourunder
                                                                Green_Shartreuse Dec 28, 2013 03:57 PM

                                                                I am, as well at the OP's dinner party.

                                                      2. re: Green_Shartreuse
                                                        susancinsf Dec 30, 2013 03:06 PM

                                                        'If they don't mind people bringing booze, I can't shake the impression that they're just being cheap.'

                                                        Really? I don't get it.

                                                        I can't figure out why anyone who was 'just being cheap' would host a dinner party for friends. It seems to be thinking the worst of people to assume that their reasons are 'cheapness' as opposed to say, having personal reasons for not wanting to pay for alcohol, or say, not being able to afford hosting drinks. I am really bothered by the idea that someone would think poorly of another for choosing to invite some friends or family to dinner, with a menu of the hosts' choosing.

                                                        1. re: susancinsf
                                                          Green_Shartreuse Dec 31, 2013 04:54 AM

                                                          I guess I'm just of the mentality that the host provides. Asking my guests to bring something completely goes against how I was raised.

                                                  3. re: susancinsf
                                                    Hobbert Dec 25, 2013 06:06 PM

                                                    The OP asked what the most tactful way to communicate this is. To me, the most tactful way is to call my friends (these are friends, right? not arbitrary people?) and say "Hi, John, I'd love to invite you to a Chinese New Year party I'm hosting at XYZ restaurant on date/time. I'm not sure if it's ever come up, but I practice ABC religion, so I won't be paying for alcohol but if you'd like to drink, please feel free to stop by the bar and grab a drink before dinner."

                                                    Also...I know "people" don't broadcast their religion, but if I'm friends with you, I know what religion you are. Everyone on my team at work (11 people) knows everyone else's religious beliefs. I know all my friends religious beliefs. Religion is such a basic part of who you are that I'm not sure how that doesn't ever come up in conversation with someone you have more than an acquaintanceship with. Just my opinion.

                                                    Regardless, it seems to me that the OP just doesn't want to shell out for alcohol. That's fine. It's their choice. I find it a bit tacky if it's based solely on saving a buck, but that's me.

                                                    1. re: Hobbert
                                                      chartreauxx Dec 26, 2013 02:28 PM

                                                      i disagree. what's tacky about being aware of your budget, wanting to entertain and do something nice for your friends, but also being realistic about your own financial realities?

                                                      1. re: chartreauxx
                                                        Rick Jan 1, 2014 03:27 PM

                                                        I agree with you chartreauxx, I'd rather see a friend stay within their budget instead of putting a big bar tab on their credit card just so they can be a "good host."

                                                      2. re: Hobbert
                                                        westsidegal Dec 30, 2013 09:59 PM

                                                        i have friends who are "friends of bill."
                                                        the drill at their home is that those of us who want to consume alcohol can bring our own and the hosts will provide glassware, corkscrews, etc.,
                                                        we are also expected to remove/pour out any remaining booze when we leave.
                                                        the thing is, we are FRIENDS of the host and he was completely comfortable communicating his preferences to us.

                                                        1. re: westsidegal
                                                          hill food Dec 30, 2013 11:12 PM

                                                          wsg - I too have such friends. it's become a "bring your own and take your own" and I am more than fine with that.

                                                          when meeting out with some FOB's (who are OK with others drinking) who don't feel comfy in a bar, I suggest a cafe and I can have a snort, they can have coffee and we can all have really good nibbles. as I'd rather talk with them than be jostled by idiot strangers anyway.

                                                          1. re: westsidegal
                                                            Hobbert Dec 31, 2013 05:11 AM

                                                            Wait, what? Who is Bill?

                                                            1. re: Hobbert
                                                              masha Dec 31, 2013 05:51 AM

                                                              Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

                                                              1. re: masha
                                                                Hobbert Dec 31, 2013 06:16 AM

                                                                Ohhhhhkay. Thanks!

                                                    2. re: susancinsf
                                                      Chemicalkinetics Dec 25, 2013 05:13 PM

                                                      <informing the restaurant is a more reliable way of avoiding bill 'surprises', >

                                                      I agree. Informing the restaurant will definitely avoid running up unexpected tab. However, informing only the restaurant but not the guests may cause some ill-feelings. Some guests who come to the party may expect free drinks. To find out only later from the servers that he/she needs to pay for the drinks may cause some people feel embarrass and then anger.

                                                      I think it is important to communicate to the restaurant and to the guests -- again, it really depends the kind of guests. Some people assume free dinners mean free drinks.

                                                      <The idea that someone who doesn't drink for religious reasons would pick up the tab for others, because it is 'expected', baffles me. >

                                                      Well, I think most people understand that. If the host is a Muslim, then he probably won't throw an alcoholic wedding. If the host is vegan, then there may be no meat in the party.

                                                      I don't know if lemonseleven is a drinker or not, but it sounds like he/she is mostly concern of the cost.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                        susancinsf Dec 25, 2013 05:30 PM

                                                        For all of you who think it is different for a Muslim: but that assumes that the guests *know* the host is Muslim (or has other personal or religious reasons for not wanting to serve alcohol): are you saying that the host has to broadcast that fact by being very clear in invitations that alcohol won't be served 'because our religion doesn't permit it' (Unstated sub text: 'but we know some people don't share our beliefs and expect alcohol at all celebrations so we are letting you know we fall into one of those exception categories')?

                                                        But presumably more to the point of this post, if the assumptions some of you are making are correct that the OP doesn't want the extra expense of alcohol does he or she, as the host *really* need to broadcast that fact? Apparently drinking is such an ingrained part of our culture that it is rude not to provide it at a hosted event because people will expect you to serve it, even if guests are invited for 'dinner', not for 'drinks'. Again, I just don't get it, but then, for me, food is more important to a celebration than is alcohol. I am well aware this isn't the case for everyone.

                                                        1. re: susancinsf
                                                          Chemicalkinetics Dec 25, 2013 05:59 PM

                                                          ??? I am lost.

                                                          Anyway, what I am saying is that many Muslims do not drink. (The truth is that many Muslims do drink alcohol. Alcohol is not a hard ban like pork consumption. Alcohol is discouraged, but not banned.) Anyway, the reason they don't drink can be easily said as "religion", but also because alcohol as a mind altering intoxication substance.

                                                          In short, if you are a non-alcoholic drinking Muslim, most people understand that you believe alcohol has an evil effect, and therefore you won't provide alcoholic drinks.

                                                          <Apparently drinking is such an ingrained part of our culture that it is rude not to provide it at a hosted event because people will expect you to serve it, even if guests are invited for 'dinner', not for 'drinks'.>

                                                          It isn't so much that alcohol must be served in a dinner. It is a matter of confusing language. When I go out on a date, and say "Hey, I like to buy you dinner", many people assume wine is PART of the dinner. They don't expect me to pay for the steak and then say "Jane, you are so beautiful. By the way, I only said I will pay for the dinner, you should pay for your white wine". That is the problem. It is an alcohol specific thing. They also expect desserts to be part of the dinner as well, which some people may not technically consider desserts to be part of dinner, while many do. "Hey Jane, I like to come to my home later. Oh, by the way, you need to pay for your creme brulee. It really isn't part of the dinner."

                                                          When I say "I will pay for the food", same thing, some people think alcohol is PART of the food.

                                                          It isn't a matter of right or wrong. I am just saying that the original poster should communicate this.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                            susancinsf Dec 26, 2013 11:06 AM

                                                            "It isn't a matter of right or wrong. I am just saying that the OP should communicate this"

                                                            Yes, they should. To the restaurant. So that there is no billing confusion or embarrassment. But my original response was to Hobbert, who says there is no good way to communicate it and that it is in fact 'tacky' to 'save a buck' by not including alcohol. If that isn't a judgement that it is wrong not to host alcohol when one hosts dinner, I don't know what is.

                                                            1. re: susancinsf
                                                              Hobbert Dec 26, 2013 11:32 AM

                                                              Actually, my "judgement" has little to do with alcohol and more to do with hosting. When you host at a restaurant and your guests are handed a menu and they cannot choose freely from that menu, yes, it's tacky. If you have a fixed menu, fine. If you host a party at your home or a banquet hall or a park and provide food and drink, great. My quibble is in limiting what your guests can have from an obviously available wider selection. You seem pretty focused on the alcohol part, so I'll add this: when I host a get together at my home, I don't provide alcohol. I do, however, have an assortment of food and drink that all can enjoy. BYOB is fine with me but that's clearly not standard restaurant practice so not a helpful suggestion in this case.

                                                              Hope this clarifies.

                                                              1. re: Hobbert
                                                                fourunder Dec 30, 2013 11:50 PM

                                                                When you host at a restaurant and your guests are handed a menu and they cannot choose freely from that menu, yes, it's tacky. If you have a fixed menu, fine

                                                                Having reading posts on dining out in restaurants on this site....it's quite common in restaurants to only offer a limited menu as policy for any group over 10 patrons....Sometimes the decision is not yours..

                                                                What confuses me about your position though is this. You say if you do not provide freely, that's tacky...but if it's a set menu it's fine.

                                                                Isn't limiting the menu the same as a fixed menu?

                                                                1. re: fourunder
                                                                  Hobbert Dec 31, 2013 05:12 AM

                                                                  Yes and no. Having a fixed menu, to me, is different from handing your guests a menu and tell them the items on it they can't have, which is what the OP more or less wants to do, in my opinion.

                                                                  1. re: Hobbert
                                                                    mcf Dec 31, 2013 06:46 AM

                                                                    It's a good analogy. The host is limiting your choices to what he or she is willing or able to spend.

                                                                    I can't even imagine being offended by a host not providing alcohol, it's not something I'd even think about as an invitee.

                                                                    1. re: Hobbert
                                                                      fourunder Dec 31, 2013 07:53 AM

                                                                      I don't see anywhere that suggests or implies the OP is providing a menu...and if I were invited, i would assume as a party and he has pre-set the menu, as in a banquet, given the event and celebration...either way though I don't see how it's tacky....or being cheap. If that's how you feel though, I respect that, but I have to ask again then,

                                                                      would you attend such a party and invite.

                                                                      Unless I've missed some details, he has not mentioned how many guest he is inviting. If it were a small number of guest, then I could possibly understand your position....but if it were a large number than, then I could not.

                                                                      1. re: fourunder
                                                                        Hobbert Jan 1, 2014 07:30 AM

                                                                        I think we've beat this to death but to answer your question- yep, I'd go. Like I said above, I don't drink :)

                                                                2. re: susancinsf
                                                                  Chemicalkinetics Dec 26, 2013 11:43 AM

                                                                  <it is in fact 'tacky' to 'save a buck' by not including alcohol>

                                                                  I think it has to do with the setting and the cultural and the people you are hosting. Let's say wedding. I have been to a few weddings with my grad school friends, we often talked among ourselves if the reception has a open bar or a cash bar. This implies that we don't assume free alcohol. I have also been invited to a few Chinese wedding banquets. Almost every Chinese banquets I have been to, the alcohol is free. Now, you don't get to pick what alcohol you can have, and sometime it is just cheap beer. However, the alcohol bottles (cheap or expensive) are set on the tables. Sometime before and sometime during.



                                                                  So I think it really depends on the guests. There may indeed no easy way to communicate it without "embarrassing the guests"

                                                  4. jw615 Dec 24, 2013 05:35 PM

                                                    It kind of depends on your crowd. I'm going to assume that if this is your plan, you run with a crowd where this is socially acceptable.

                                                    Do you plan to cover non-alcoholic drinks? That's probably the best bet - then you could say something like "In addition to the meal, tea and soft drinks will be provided, and a full bar will be available at your own cost."

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jw615
                                                      gardencook Dec 25, 2013 04:04 AM

                                                      I would not cover any drinks at all so there is not any confusion. Perhaps word the invitation, that you will be providing the food, but that a "cash bar will be available for guests". JMO

                                                      ETA: OK I read the rest of the thread - I guess I'm repeating others' good advice. ;)

                                                    2. Chemicalkinetics Dec 24, 2013 05:40 PM

                                                      Well, since I have watched many Chinese movies, let me give you a few pointers. :P Just kidding

                                                      You are generous to buy everyone dinner. Drinks can get very expensive and I understand why you want to separate this portion out. It is always a balance between being absolutely clear and being polite. How much you want to spell it out.... that is entirely up to you.

                                                      It is much easier to say these things to a Chinese audience in Chinese. Not sure if they are Chinese.

                                                      I don' know your friends, so what work for my friends may not work for you.

                                                      Have you consider the other way around? That is you pay for the alcohol and they pay for the food. Doing it this way, it will be clear and tactical. You will say. "I like to invite all my friends and family for a Chinese New Year Party at the local restaurant. Alcohol expense -- on me!" (酒,我付!) I think most people understand that the food are on them, and you will pay for only the alcohol.

                                                      If you prefer to pay for the food, and not the alcohol. That is ok too. What you do is a traditional method. You order the dishes up front. By the way, have you ordered the food course yet? Or are you allowing your guests to order individual dishes? Assuming you do the traditional dish course, then what you say is that the food course has been paid (菜席已付). So you have to pay the entire food course up front, and tell everyone that. This pretty much implies that you are not paying anything beyond that -- especially alcohol.

                                                      If you really want to spell out some more, then you can spell it out.

                                                      1. h
                                                        HillJ Dec 24, 2013 05:46 PM

                                                        A cash bar has been arranged for guests.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                          Steve Dec 24, 2013 09:56 PM

                                                          This is it: Cash Bar.

                                                        2. j
                                                          Jeri L Dec 24, 2013 05:52 PM

                                                          The usual wording is "no host bar".

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: Jeri L
                                                            HillJ Dec 24, 2013 05:54 PM

                                                            Really? I've never seen no host bar on any invitation only the words "cash bar" meaning bring your cash to buy your own drinks. Very common phrase and practice when the host is not covering drinks from the bar.

                                                            Either certainly means the same thing. Maybe I'm just not that hip :)

                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                              jlhinwa Dec 24, 2013 11:43 PM

                                                              Maybe a regional thing? Where I live (Seattle area), the term most often used is no-host bar.

                                                              1. re: jlhinwa
                                                                hill food Dec 25, 2013 12:57 AM

                                                                I've seen both terms. everyone understands (it's not translating Old Church Slavonic after all)

                                                                1. re: hill food
                                                                  BobB Dec 27, 2013 09:20 AM

                                                                  You may be familiar with the term, but as someone who has never seen the phrase "no-host bar," it is not at all obvious to me that it means the guests must pay for their own drinks. My first impression of it was that it implied a self-serve open bar (no bartender). I believe you that it doesn't mean that, but it's not self-explanatory.

                                                                  1. re: BobB
                                                                    Hobbert Dec 27, 2013 09:23 AM

                                                                    Yeah, I've never heard that term and I would've thought that too. I assumed it meant you serve yourself until someone here explained it.

                                                                    1. re: Hobbert
                                                                      saeyedoc Dec 27, 2013 09:26 AM

                                                                      I never heard the term no-host bar until I moved to Montana. Got burned when I went to a wedding and didn't bring any money.
                                                                      They also use it here in TX.
                                                                      Never saw it used where I grew up in the NE, was cash bar.

                                                                      1. re: saeyedoc
                                                                        BobB Dec 27, 2013 09:29 AM

                                                                        I'm also a New Englander (cash bars here). It's definitely a regionalism.

                                                                        1. re: saeyedoc
                                                                          Hobbert Dec 27, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                                          I'm in Northern VA and we also use the term cash bar. Must be regional.

                                                                          1. re: Hobbert
                                                                            HillJ Dec 27, 2013 09:45 AM

                                                                            I didn't realize the term had any variations until this thread.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                              Hobbert Dec 27, 2013 10:47 AM

                                                                              Lol me neither. American expressions can get pretty weird.

                                                              2. re: Jeri L
                                                                acgold7 Dec 26, 2013 09:41 PM

                                                                I was sure I was totally misunderstanding the question and the resulting debate until I read this. Yep, this is my understanding of the question and the answer.

                                                              3. KarenDW Dec 25, 2013 04:01 AM

                                                                In my circle, people would interpret "cash/no-host bar" as a sign to bring money or credit cards to pay for drinks. If the restaurant does not accept credit cards, then the words "no-host bar, cash only" might be more clear.
                                                                Not to be too pedantic, but have you checked with the restaurant that the establishment can cope with individual drink bills?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: KarenDW
                                                                  Puffin3 Dec 25, 2013 06:07 AM

                                                                  How about saying: "I am pleased to pay for the food. If you wish to order something to drink that is at your expense".
                                                                  Simple straight forward. I would not be offended if I received an invitation saying this.
                                                                  I doubt there is a Chinese restaurant in the country that doesn't have a credit card reader.
                                                                  As to individual drinks confusing the wait staff that is also unlikely as it's 'the drinks' that make the real profits'.

                                                                  1. re: Puffin3
                                                                    Davwud Dec 25, 2013 06:45 AM

                                                                    Yep. Just tell people. They need to know up front what to expect. No big deal.


                                                                    1. re: Puffin3
                                                                      jgg13 Dec 25, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                                      I can think of several in the boston area alone

                                                                  2. Kat Dec 25, 2013 06:09 AM

                                                                    Cash bar.

                                                                    1. h
                                                                      HillJ Dec 25, 2013 07:30 AM

                                                                      After reading the comments, yeah, I'm sticking with cash bar. My own adult kids say that phrase is universal and easy to understand.

                                                                      eta: my family thought the words no-host was too brisk/abrupt for an invitation that in all respects is inviting. Cash bar sounds informative but still friendly.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                        babette feasts Dec 25, 2013 10:46 AM



                                                                      2. b
                                                                        Billy33 Dec 25, 2013 01:52 PM

                                                                        Why the need to be tactful? If you were paying for my meal I would take no offence whatsoever if I were expected to pay for my own drinks.
                                                                        'There will be a cash bar available' makes things very clear.

                                                                        1. c
                                                                          CaliforniaJoseph Dec 25, 2013 06:47 PM

                                                                          Two words: "Cash Bar"

                                                                          1. chartreauxx Dec 25, 2013 07:14 PM

                                                                            i'm in the "cash bar available" camp. what's the big? you're buying everyone dinner. if any of your friends takes offense at the notion of being given dinner for free (and heaven forbid, having to pay for booze!), they can forward their invite to me, i assure you no such complaints would come from this quarter. happy new year!

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: chartreauxx
                                                                              hill food Dec 25, 2013 10:57 PM

                                                                              I can't imagine anyone being 'offended' and if they are, well then they're boors. sure it's nice to open the floodgates every now and then, but it's not always feasible. all this guzzle-monkey asks is a "heads up" as to be prepared.

                                                                              I liked the gist of jw615's line:
                                                                              "In addition to the meal, tea and soft drinks will be provided, and a full bar will be available at your own cost."

                                                                              but would re-write it into:
                                                                              "tea and soft drinks will be provided. A no-host bar will be available"

                                                                              1. re: hill food
                                                                                Jpan99 Dec 27, 2013 10:58 AM

                                                                                I've only heard of a cash bar or an open bar. I'm not familiar at all with the term no-host bar. If I saw that on an invitation I would have to think about it a bit, "hmmm a bar without a host...does that mean there is a bar with no bartender so I just go up and get whatever drink I want?"

                                                                                1. re: Jpan99
                                                                                  chartreauxx Dec 27, 2013 07:24 PM

                                                                                  i would also be confused by the phrase "no-host bar"! but it seems to be a regional name...

                                                                                  1. re: chartreauxx
                                                                                    LeoLioness Dec 27, 2013 07:27 PM

                                                                                    I know what it is because of Chowhound! Years ago I might have thought it just meant there would be no bartender, you'd have to mix your own cocktail.

                                                                                2. re: hill food
                                                                                  coll Dec 29, 2013 01:48 AM

                                                                                  I would not only NOT be offended, but glad to know that booze is available. Been to plenty of restaurants that don't even have a bar.

                                                                                  Might as well add my two cents: I too have only heard the terms open bar and cash bar.

                                                                              2. l
                                                                                lemonseleven Dec 26, 2013 08:24 AM

                                                                                Thanks for all of the input! I think it's a great idea to inform the restauant, although I'd like to also inform guests upfront.

                                                                                We aren't drinkers, although not for religious reasons, just personal preference.

                                                                                This is what I have come up with: "Hosted dinner, drinks available for purchase"

                                                                                I don't love the idea of using "Cash Bar" or "Host Bar", although they make sense generally, this is a small dinner party, and there is not a physical bar at the restaurant although there is alcohol on the menu. Those phrases just sound a bit to formal to my ear (feel more appropriate to a wedding or large party invite).

                                                                                Thanks again for all of the input!

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: lemonseleven
                                                                                  HillJ Dec 26, 2013 08:26 AM

                                                                                  Great solution. Now that you've outlined more details about the party you are throwing the wording you've selected makes a lot of sense. Have fun!

                                                                                  1. re: lemonseleven
                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Dec 26, 2013 08:33 AM

                                                                                    <although they make sense generally, this is a small dinner party>

                                                                                    I see. Just a small party then.

                                                                                    <there is not a physical bar at the restaurant >

                                                                                    I was wondering that too.

                                                                                    <This is what I have come up with: "Hosted dinner, drinks available for purchase">

                                                                                    Good choice

                                                                                    Since it is a small party with limited number of people, you can always inform the guests one by one if needed.

                                                                                    1. re: lemonseleven
                                                                                      KarenDW Dec 30, 2013 04:59 AM

                                                                                      Sounds great! Have you ensured that the restaurant is willing to process different credit/debit card transactions for each guest? I'm currently in a region where split bills/separate bills are not common. It's taken some time, but I'm learning to carry cash again.

                                                                                    2. a
                                                                                      AdamD Dec 26, 2013 01:48 PM

                                                                                      Please join us to celebrate Chinese New Year!
                                                                                      We are hosting a party at ABC and hope you can make it. A wonderful feast of Chinese dishes is planned.
                                                                                      Cash bar.
                                                                                      We look forward to seeing you!

                                                                                      Really not a big deal. You can be a good host and not provide alcohol.

                                                                                      1. f
                                                                                        fourunder Dec 26, 2013 02:09 PM

                                                                                        Your presence is requested at my Chinese New Year's Party.....The food's on me....the booze is not.

                                                                                        Please RSVP sooner than later...Walk-ins are not welcomed.

                                                                                        1. Dagney Dec 27, 2013 10:26 AM

                                                                                          Include a line that says, "Unhosted bar." ?


                                                                                          Good grief, I just read down thread a bit and there seems to be a lot of emotion over this relatively simple issue. Who cares if it is because of religion or cost or whatever?

                                                                                          I would suggest consulting Miss Manners or an old Emily Post book for the technicalities, but I think a simple line like, "There will be an unhosted bar available," or "Alcohol will be unhosted," or even "Cash Bar," is perfectly fine.

                                                                                          Maybe I am too laid back, but an unhosted bar is just that, an unhosted bar. I would not think my hosts were cheap or religious or weird, and quite frankly, I would not care IF they were! I have been to wedding receptions with unhosted bars and it simply did not matter. People had a great time, ate great food, and paid for their own drinks.

                                                                                          Hope your party goes well!...:))

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Dagney
                                                                                            HillJ Dec 27, 2013 10:51 AM

                                                                                            Did you see the part where the OP actually found a solution they were happy with. Questions been asked and answered. But we're all learning a good deal about the 'issue' light as it is anyway :)

                                                                                            1. re: Dagney
                                                                                              Ashforth Dec 27, 2013 07:16 PM

                                                                                              Miss Manners has in fact addressed this exact situation: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/19...

                                                                                              1. re: Ashforth
                                                                                                BobB Dec 30, 2013 03:48 PM

                                                                                                Not quite exact, actually - she responds to a person who wants to host a large group and IS willing to provide unlimited free beer, wine, and champagne, but not an open hard liquor bar. That's really quite different - someone who would prefer a cocktail would likely still be happy enough with beer or wine, but someone who's accustomed to drinking some kind of alcohol at dinner is unlikely to be happy if they can't have any at all. Speaking as one such person, I'd much rather have a cash bar than a dry evening.

                                                                                            2. jen kalb Dec 28, 2013 03:36 PM

                                                                                              To me hosting a dinner for a large group is a generous act. Recipients of this generosity are entitlied neither to expect to consume unlimited drinks or order from a menu (often these types of dinners are planned and pre-ordered for the group. to my way of thinking a gentle reminder that the guests ae on their own if they want to order a drink is perfectly acceptabl, whatever the reason. Hospitality can be real even if it is not unlimited.

                                                                                              Its really no different from being invitied to someone's home - a host is under no obligation to provide everything a particular guest might want.

                                                                                              I think if you say "Soft drinks provided, drinks are at guests' expense" or something of the kind, that would be perfectly acceptable.

                                                                                              1. b
                                                                                                Bellachefa Dec 30, 2013 05:16 AM

                                                                                                Cash bar available.

                                                                                                1. d
                                                                                                  Dirtywextraolives Dec 30, 2013 09:20 PM

                                                                                                  Cash bar
                                                                                                  No host bar
                                                                                                  Bar provided at additional all cost

                                                                                                  1. TSAW Jan 4, 2014 10:43 AM

                                                                                                    I just did this for a party I hosted at a restaurant. Simply said 'cash bar'. We just could not afford drinks for 40 people. No one thought it was tacky. Those who liked to indulge did so.

                                                                                                    I personally don't think it's a big deal.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: TSAW
                                                                                                      hill food Jan 4, 2014 10:34 PM

                                                                                                      and that's all it takes. in this day and age the term "hosted bar" or "open bar" is just lagniappe for the likes of me.
                                                                                                      anything else and I get it.

                                                                                                      whether there's a bar-bar or it's table service is easily figured out by the guests who care. we're big kids now.

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