$2 Upcharge for Ordering Your Scotch Neat?

3329150820_309d8d833d_mI’d never seen it before but Devin Leonard saw a $2 up-charge on his bill after he ordered his whisky neat. The argument was that by not putting in any ice, the bartender was putting in more whisky. As someone who has ordered scotch neat on numerous occasions, I’ve never seen an up-charge on my bill. Now, if the bar just added $2 to their normal charge and not said anything, I wouldn’t be the wiser but no one has explicitly included one.

That made me wonder, would they put more whisky in a glass if it had no ice? I’ve always understood places to use liquor pourers that controlled the amount of liquor that came out – precisely one shot (1.5 oz). If your order called for a certain number of shots, how much did $2 represent? Was it an extra shot? Did you get 4.5 oz. in your drink at $6 and now get 6 ounces for $8? It just doesn’t seem to add up in my mind.

Personally, I think it’s just a money grab. Maybe the bar doesn’t have the proper controls in place (they’re not using pourers, they just eyeball it), in which case they’re just passing their laziness onto the customer. If they want an extra $2, just charge $2 more. I’m not against bar owners making money, I’m against this type of overcharging because it’s unfounded.

Heck, they should take off five cents because you didn’t ask for ice!

(Credit: Jeremy Brooks)

12 thoughts on “$2 Upcharge for Ordering Your Scotch Neat?

  1. A real bar doesn’t use the pour measurements but trusts in their bartenders to pour a good drink, one which gives the customer a drink that leans more to the strong side than the weak side and also isn’t going to rip off the house by hooking up his/her buddies and pouring them really strong drinks. The amount of ice in a whiskey on the rocks shouldn’t be enough to make a huge difference in the quantity. I respect the bars right to charge what they want for a drink, but I also agree this is a money grab. I more so respect the customers right to choose a different bar that isn’t trading $2 for the cost of happy customers.

    • On the point of a “real bar,” I agree 100%. There’s something tacky about seeing those pourers (at least the measuring ones, I get the other type which basically help reduce spillage) anyway.

      Let your money do the talking… never fails. 🙂

    • Fantastic idea, maybe next we can have gas stations where we leave the amount of fuel dispensed for a given charge up to the attendants as well, I’m sure companies will go for that.

  2. How about a $3 add-on for the vodka in a Kettel One gimlet ordered “up?”

    Only spotted it on the check at Lido in Harlem. I didn’t complain because it’s an annoyance I can share with the world.

  3. For most places a shot/mixed drink is 1.5 oz liquor, a rocks drink should be 2 ounces and a martini/manhattan should have 3 ounces. Chances are their computer POS systems (register) have the whiskey prices under the price of a shot and have no separate button for it as neat so it would be added on, example:
    Jameson $10
    Jameson and Ginger/ Coke/Soda $10
    Jameson neat/on the rocks $10 + $2 = $12
    It wouldn’t make sense for them to charge you the same price for a shot of whiskey and a whiskey on the rocks because you’d be getting 1/2 oz more when you order on the rocks, you pay more for more pour. So if anything 1.5 oz = $10, technically 2 oz drink should be $13.33 since an 0.5 oz is appx $3.33 (though I’ve generally seen $1 upcharge not $2 ).
    For higher shelf such as single malt scotches no one ever orders them as shots or mixed drinks with soda but in the POS system it’s probably easier for them to keep track of it by sticking to that pattern of placing the price of a shot of liquor (1.5 oz) and adding $2 on neat (2 oz) , example:
    Macallen $12
    Macallen and Ginger/ Coke/Soda $12
    Macallen neat/on the rocks $12 + $2 = $14 <- this is what you see on your receipt

    I hope that kind of clarifies it a bit?
    -Bartender @ 32nd Midtown-

  4. It’s hit Milwaukee and it’s encouraged and driven by new restaurant billing software. It’s insulting and deceptive, and punishing the drinkers most likely to notice. I was just in a former favorite haunt that charges almost twice for a whiskey neat or on the rocks over any regular cocktail. The waitstaff add insult to the theft with bizarre rationalizations that do not stand up to reason or inspection. The “more” you get for neat or on the rocks isn’t more, they’re using clearly smaller glasses (the cocktail my friend had was served in a real rocks glass that dwarfed my little tumbler for my whiskey with two ice cubes). The owners are counting on us consumers being stupid.

    • The ridiculous part is the argument in the first place – you get “more.” No, you aren’t supposed to get more, you only get more if the bartender is imprecise in their pour. It’s a reason for the sake of giving a reason… the real reason is because they feel they can get away with it and it seems like they are.

  5. Nancy’s explanation is correct. Jim is also correct that a bar doesn’t need to “trick” you out of $2 by up-charging you for ordering neat. They would just raise their price $2 and avoid having to explain their poor attempt to get more money out of you. If you had ordered the same scotch with water, soda, coke, or anything else, you would have received 1.5 oz of liquor and you would not have seen an additional charge. Since you ordered it neat, the bar is charging you $2 for an additional .5 oz to make it a 2oz neat scotch. This is so that there is only one button to press for each alcohol, followed by a modifier button to clarify what the final desired product is. If you could see it laid out on the POS, it would make sense to you.

    It also works this way to make cocktail ordering easier. If you order a Manhattan in my bar, it’s $6, and you will get the least expensive bourbon we pour, with no modifier on your check. That is called a “well” drink. If you want a Manhattan with Maker’s Mark, it becomes a “call” drink, because you called out a modifier. I press the button for Manhattan, then another button for Knob Creek, and it adds $3. I didn’t trick you out of $3 and try to sneak it past you. You wanted more than the basic order, I gave it to you, and charged accordingly.

    I know it may seem like “neat” should be the most basic order of Scotch, but it isn’t. It is a modifier from the basic order of 1.5oz. It is genuinely more alcohol than you would have been poured had you ordered the most basic, which would have been only 1.5oz of Scotch with water, soda, etc.

    Sean- Bartender in KC

  6. My bartender tonight turned his back on me to pour me my 21 double wood Balvenie. I moved to see him using a jigger and it was almost 1oz. I paid $25 and this is why I don’t like bars. You pour in front of your guest! It’s 1.5 Oz at LEAST.

  7. There is no way in hell I would patronize that type of establishment. Whoever gave that reply is an idiot and should be fired!!

    As a former bartender for many years and now a bar owner that is utter bullshit!!

    You have standards. At my place our pours are “2 ounces”. So it doesn’t matter if its on the rocks or straight up. It is still “2” ounces regardless. Consistency is the key to a successful business. And, yes, we measure because if you don’t measure either the customer or the business will be “out” which is a recipe for failure.

    Stephanie Skinner
    Santiago, Dominican Republic

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