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Jul 16, 2014 09:30 PM

Corkage fees

I'll save my specific rant until I've digested the comments of my fellow Chowhounders, but for now, I'll ask, generally: what is the outer limit, in your opinion, of what is a reasonable corkage fee? I'll add that this doesn't include my favored policy, "buy one, we'll waive the fee on the one you brought". Simply, I brought in a bottle, what's the max I should be charged in a New Orleans restaurant?

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  1. $15/bottle seems to be the reasonable and standard rate...

    1. This is a truly interesting question.

      I have a good friend who is a big wheel in the logistics side of the wine and spirits trade. As a result, he has the ability to collect some very special bottles at very attractive prices. Once I was treated to a meal with him in NYC where he brought along three different older vintages of Penfolds' La Grange, and we had a vertical tasting of one of the world's best wines. As I recall, the corkage rate he was charged was around $50 (per bottle). It struck me as high, but he shrugged it off, given how much cheaper it was in the end than the astronomical sum he would have had to pay for the same bottles off of a list at the standard restaurant mark-up. There are different ways to look at it.

      My own practice in any city is to check on the charge first, run my own mental balancing act, and then either move foward, or vote with my feet and select another venue.

      But it is a balancing act, involving many factors, and I have a hard time getting too upset with any establishment that has corkage at all vs. the many who don't.

      You are teasing us by not first revealing the charge that you felt was beyond the pale. Can't wait for the reveal.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Gizmo56

        Has anyone heard of or thought of bringing in their own "exotic" beers? There have been times when I really wanted a good beer with a meal but the beer list was limited and/or mundane. I know there are some restaurants in town with good beer lists.

        Should there be a "cappage" fee? Restaurants aren't going to get rich on the mark up of beer.

        1. re: collardman

          Do you know what the markup is on draft beer???

          1. re: zin1953

            No. Just doing my own math on wholesale bottled beer and usual menu price.

      2. Corkage varies widely with both the city (New Orleans is different than, say New York; San Francisco is different than Dallas) *and* with the type of establishment (i.e.: a pizza joint will be different than, say, R'evolution).

        R'evolution is the highest I know of in New Orleans, at $50/750ml with a 2-bottle limit, but in my experience, things in New Orleans run about $15-20.

        3 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          So, this restaurant charged $30.00, irrespective of whether the customer purchases a bottle from their list. Just struck me as being about twice what others charge, though hearing about RR..yikes! I think when I posted it I was still miffed at the other annoying policy of no bread being offered...but you can spend $6 and get a basket of rolls. Gee thanks...

          1. re: sanglier

            It all depends, as I said. $25+ is the norm where I live in Berkeley¹ (and Oakland); it's higher, typically, across the Bay in San Francisco² and up in Napa Valley³.

            Charging for bread is also becoming something of a -- if not yet "commonplace," than at least a "not unheard of" experience.

            ¹ Chez Panisse charges $25 per 750ml bottle; $45 per magnum (1.5L)
            ² For example, Restaurant Gary Danko's corkage policy is $45/750ml with a 2-btl. max, or one (max) 1.5L for $85.
            ³ The French Laundry charges -- ready? -- $150! Makes the corkage policy at Thomas Keller's New York Restaurant, Per Se, seem almost reasonable at $90 . . . .