Money Talks

Cocktails: The Price We Pay

How much is too much?

By John Chandler August 31, 2011

Art by Michael Godard

Along with the usual barrage of email requests I get about "the best happy hour," there are two other topics that erupt with the regularity of Old Faithful. The first is about the presence of children at brew pubs. Me? I’m against it. If parents want to go out for a beer, hire a sitter. Or just leave ‘em in the car for several hours, like my Uncle Red did with me and my brothers. To his credit, he did crack a window and bring us the occasional bag of chips or a Dr. Pepper, so I can’t really complain. This is a subject I’ll no doubt return to at some point in time.

But today’s topic has to do with the price of a cocktail. If I recommend a place like Teardrop Lounge or Secret Society, typically someone will angrily let me know that these temples of mixology aren’t within their budget. Variations of "I’m not spending $10 for a @#$!%?* drink!" is the usual tenor of the response. And I can understand that. Hell, I’m on a budget too. I’ve embedded a video courtesy of from San Francisco’s renowned Bourbon & Branch bar that sensibly addresses this topic.

On the other hand, if a place wants to charge me more than, say, $8 for a cocktail with standard, store-bought ingredients, I’m out of there. I know from my many conversations with waitstaff and bartenders, that a hefty percentage of restaurants make the profits they need to stay in business with $8-plus cocktails. The price point on food is just too high. And that’s fine—up to a point.

What do you think, drinking buddies? Should folks who want cheap drinks simply stay home with a bottle of Hood River vodka? Or are we merely hapless pawns of "Big Liquor?"

Behind the Drink: The $13 Cocktail from on Vimeo.

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