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Jan 5, 2014 07:40 PM

Why is a Virgin Mary so much more expensive than tomato juice?

We had dinner out last night and paid $5.50 each for a couple Virgin Maries. I didn't inquire about the price for a glass of tomato juice but I feel fairly confident it wasn't $5.50.

My husband said it's because it was from the bar. I'm not sure how that justifies it.

Happily they were tasty but that's a lot for a couple splashes of Worchestershire and whatever other seasoning.

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  1. Well, the "Worchestershire and whatever other seasoning" cost money, and the there's the labor cost of adding the "Worchestershire and whatever other seasoning" and the labor cost of adding the proper amount/ratio of "Worchestershire and whatever other seasoning."

    Also, I'm guessing a glass of tomato juice at your restaurant would probably be only $1 or so less expensive than the VM.

    (As an aside, is the plural of Virgin Mary really "Virgin Maries". Looks so odd.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      This. Juice is poured from the can, into a glass with ice. Done. A Virgin Mary requires certain proportions of different ingredients to be measured/eyed, shaken together, and then poured. There's more work involved.

    2. In short, your husband is correct. It is because the drink is from a bar. A glass of cheap beer (Bud for example) can easily be 4 times what you pay for from a liquor store, and it requires more preparation.

      Mixed drink like Virgin Mary costs more because you "need" someone to mix the ingredient for you. There is a labor cost to it. At the end of the day, they simply has to make a profit.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        But exactly the same can be said for the staff and pantry in the kitchen from whence the tomato juice comes.

        1. re: rainey


          Well, a mixologist salary is probably higher than a cook.

          You are right. If you ordered a glass of tomato juice, they are not going to charge you $5.50, probably $2 (still more than the actual cost of course).

          My experience is that anything coming out from the bar costs more.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Might be as high as $2.50. Drink prices are rising and soda is hovering between two and three. Juice is typically more.

            What is the price of the Bloody Mary?

            1. re: melpy

              No one had a Bloody Mary or any cocktail for that matter so I don't know.

              It's OK. I'm over it. It just seems like a bit of exploitation. I'm assuming they don't have a different charge for a soda from the bar menu than the dinner menu tho I've never thought about that before so I'll have to check next time I have an opportunity.

              Besides, we're talking about maybe $5 total on a 3-figure check so it really isn't such a big deal. I just happened to notice it this time and wonder at it.

              1. re: rainey

                I don't think $5.50 at a restaurant where you can rack up a 3 figure bill is bad. Many restaurants in that price range charge $10-15 for alcoholic cocktails, so charging $5 for a Virgin cocktail doesn't sound obscene to me. But I live in LA, where cocktails can easily be $13-16 each.

      2. $5.50 for a Virgin Mary sounds pretty pricey, but it depends on the overall price points. If a Bloody Mary was $7 at that place I'd say that's a reasonable differential, it's the same work less a shot of vodka. If it's $6 then I'd agree they're overpricing the "virgin" cocktails.

        1. Or maybe it's not the labor involved at all. They may be using one of the many commercially prepared Bloody Mary mixes available that already has everything in it but the Vodka. I'm not sure whether that's better or worse.

          But whichever it is, the answer to your question is: Because they can.

          1. Depending on the bar some bloody maries (virgin or not) can be a number of ingredients and not as simple as pouring out a premade mix or a juice.

            The charge sounds fair enough to me, but i'm in a large city where prices can be obscene for drinks.....