$9 for a Stinkin' Drink???

Martini What does nine bucks buy these days? 

  • – Two gallons of milk
  • – About 60 miles worth of gas
  • – One movie ticket
  • – And, if you live in San Francisco, one cocktail, wine or beer

Sorry folks, if you live in NY, LA or Vegas, nine bucks is just a down-payment on your favorite drink ($10.12, $10.66 and $11.86, respectively), according to findings from a new Zagat survey.  What’s more, these prices represent a 24% increase over just two years ago!

Which explains why this news came as a bit of a surprise to me – it’s been well over two years since I’ve warmed a barstool in my favorite, pre-marital haunts.  And though I recall seeing a $15 martini recently, I figured it was in lieu of a cover charge in a bar where you can see and be seen among the beautiful people (no I did NOT sneak in.  Cynic.)  And in my experience, the sky-high price of Skyy will never deter the seekers of hip from their noble quest for ever-hipper partners.

But it does make me wonder.  Are rising cocktail prices one reason for the rise in wine bar popularity?  Wine bars have seen record expansion over the last two years, and are rapidly becoming THE place to meet.  Many who used to darken the doorway at hip clubs and posh restaurant bars have found a more satisfying experience at wine bars.

And this makes sense.  When spending nine bucks on a drink, why not enjoy it for 20 – 40 minutes in comfortable surroundins no less hip but far quieter?  From my experience at Tastes of the Valleys, that’s how long most customers take to sip their way through a galss of wine.  A martini, margarita, or even the formerly hot "Cosmopolitan", have lost their frosty appeal by the time 20 minutes have passed.

So I encourage bar owners to continue raising prices on cocktails.  It can only speed the nation’s migration from consumers of frothy, Big-Gulp-inspired cocktails to the more healthy and civilized wine bar.


Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant


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