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

rainey Jan 5, 2014 07:40 PM

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.

  1. Atomic76 Jan 6, 2014 04:32 PM

    I ordered a coffee and an orange juice at the Hilton in Chicago one morning, and they charged me like $14 for that alone, and this wasn't even room service. We were sitting in one of the first floor restaurants.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Atomic76
      Chemicalkinetics Jan 6, 2014 04:36 PM

      <I ordered a coffee and an orange juice>
      Was it a special coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice? I know a semi-special coffee can easily go above $6.

    2. j
      JayL Jan 6, 2014 03:35 PM

      You ordered a "drink"...not a glass of juice. I think that point has been made pretty clear by this point.

      It was tasty...that's worth something.

      1. Midlife Jan 6, 2014 10:48 AM

        This takes a whole lot more than pouring some tomato juice into a glass:


        3 oz tomato juice
        1/2 oz lemon juice
        1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
        celery salt
        ground pepper
        hot pepper or Tabasco sauce
        celery stalk for garnish
        pickle garnish for garnish (optional)


        Build the liquid ingredients into a highball glass over ice cubes.
        Mix well.
        Add the seasonings to taste.
        Garnish with the celery stalk.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Midlife
          fourunder Jan 6, 2014 10:52 AM

          Love the links...

        2. e
          escondido123 Jan 6, 2014 10:47 AM

          Maybe next time you could just order a glass of tomato juice if you don't want the higher price?

          1. s
            sal_acid Jan 6, 2014 09:22 AM

            I's say that the plural is Virgin Marys.

            1. k
              kagemusha49 Jan 6, 2014 09:02 AM

              Virgins Mary?

              1. b
                beevod Jan 6, 2014 07:51 AM

                Perhaps they're punishing you for shunning alcohol?

                1. f
                  fourunder Jan 6, 2014 12:03 AM

                  Did you get a any horseradish, a celery stalk or a salted rim? If not, next time order a glass of tomato juice and ask for the bottles of Worcestershire and Tabasco and formulate your own.

                  I would also say this though. a glass of tomato juice is usually 7-10 ounces and served without ice. If you ask for a tall Tomato juice in a pint glass...it may come out to be more expensive than the Virgin Mary

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fourunder
                    rainey Jan 6, 2014 07:43 AM

                    Just a wedge of lime.

                  2. t
                    Ttrockwood Jan 5, 2014 10:25 PM

                    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.....

                    1. a
                      acgold7 Jan 5, 2014 09:37 PM

                      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. h
                        hsk Jan 5, 2014 09:23 PM

                        $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. Chemicalkinetics Jan 5, 2014 07:59 PM

                          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
                            rainey Jan 5, 2014 08:54 PM

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

                            1. re: rainey
                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 5, 2014 10:26 PM


                              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
                                melpy Jan 6, 2014 04:58 AM

                                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
                                  rainey Jan 6, 2014 07:49 AM

                                  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
                                    boogiebaby Jan 6, 2014 01:30 PM

                                    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. ipsedixit Jan 5, 2014 07:46 PM

                            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
                              boogiebaby Jan 5, 2014 09:00 PM

                              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.

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