Ask Adam: How Do I Ask a Bartender How Much Something Costs Without Sounding Cheap?


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Ask Adam: How Do I Ask a Bartender How Much Something Costs Without Sounding Cheap?

Send all questions to: advice@vinepair.com

I was recently at a wedding reception and there wasn’t enough food (boo). What’s the move here? I wanted to drink, but I was scared to drink too much, so I ended up having just a single beer and not enjoying myself very much…

While many weddings can be quite raucous affairs, if for some reason the bride and groom have chosen not to go all-out on the food, then you should not go all-out on the drinks. Drinking on an empty stomach is a sure way to become inebriated much too quickly, and then you’re much more likely to embarrass yourself doing the chicken dance or electric slide. Have a few drinks, celebrate the happy couple, and then make a beeline to the nearest late-night food spot.

I was recently in a hotel bar and ordered a single glass of whiskey. When the waiter brought the check, it was for $25! What’s the etiquette for asking a bartender how much the drink they’re bringing you costs? I don’t want to sound cheap, but I don’t like nasty $25 surprises either.

It’s always incredibly frustrating to me when an establishment doesn’t list the price of spirits on their menus. It feels like a shady tactic, and there really is no good way to ask the price that’s simpler or more tactful than just straight-up asking. Just like when a server tells you the specials without telling you their prices, you have a delicate dance to do, tactfully asking the cost so you don’t look cheap while avoiding winding up with a shocking surprise when you’re presented with your bill.

The best way to handle it would simply be to say: “I’m deciding between a glass of X bourbon and Y bourbon and was wondering what the cost of each was.” Choosing two bourbons that you know to traditionally be in different price categories will also give you an indication of what the rest of the bourbons on the list might be priced at. Then, it’s your call as to whether or not you’ll be ordering a spirit at the bar, or simply sticking to beer.

I recently went to a BYOB spot for dinner with some friends. We brought three bottles of wine and drank two and a half of them, but didn’t finish the third. The problem was, the restaurant had thrown out the cork. They didn’t want to let us take the bottle with us out of the restaurant. What’s the law here? Are we legally allowed to take a bottle out of a restaurant?

While I am familiar with the law if you purchased the bottle at the restaurant, most states allow you to take home what you don’t finish as long as the restaurant re-corks it. I am not positive as to whether or not this applies to BYOBs. My assumption would be that it does, as you owned the bottle before coming to the restaurant, and you still own it after, whether or not you finish it, but I would think if the cork was missing, you’d be out of luck regarding taking it home. While you could try to stuff some napkins or tinfoil in the opening of the bottle to seal it, if you were stopped, this probably wouldn’t look totally kosher to the cops.

But there’s an easy fix here. If you have some wine left over but the cork’s gone missing, share it with the staff instead. They will definitely appreciate it.

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