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Diatribe: Why Don’t Restaurants Include Drink Prices In Their Menus?


I’ve been known to enjoy a Happy Hour on occasion.  I also enjoy a “designer martini” or a special margarita once in a great while.  I like a bargain but I’ll splurge for special events.  Recently, I paid fifteen dollars for a glass of wine when I was at the theater but, when I buy wine to have with dinner I often pay less than fifteen dollars for an entire bottle.  I get really frustrated when prices are not clearly available.

Many restaurants offer cocktails and beer on their menus without indicating the price of the beverages.  I’m at a loss to find .  When an upscale restaurant presents its wine list, the prices are usually included and this information is used to help the customer make a decision.  Menus always include prices for entrees, side dishes, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages but never alcoholic beverages.

It just seems sneaky to me.

I understand that alcoholic beverages, particularly the fancy drinks that chain restaurants frequently offer, are huge profit centers for the restaurant and they can charge accordingly, but there’s something about the lack of disclosure that leads me to feel that something dishonest is happening.

Are they serving drinks at “market price”?  If they don’t advertise their “regular” price, do they think they can offer “special prices” and customers won’t notice?

For me, the cost isn’t always an important variable when making decisions about cocktails but I don’t like to feel as though I’m being taken advantage of.

The old saying “If you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can’t afford it” simply doesn’t apply.  If I have to ask how much it costs, I don’t think the restaurant is doing its job.

What do you think?  Do menus without drink prices annoy you?  Why do you think they do it?

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From → Diatribes

  1. Anthony Calvert permalink

    Its because drinks are where they make their money from. With food, its a thin profit line so they post prices. If they posted their drink prices, it would cause many to not order them because they are expensive.


    • Perhaps their research shows that fewer people are less likely to purchase cocktails when NO prices are listed than when HIGH prices are listed?


      • Anthony Calvert permalink

        Yeah, research shows people in today’s economy won’t spend money if they see how expensive drinks are. Its a double edge sword, if people don’t buy drinks then food prices will go up or they go out of business. I hate it but I understand it and glad they are still open.


  2. Mike permalink

    Let’s take a vodka soda as an example… House vodka, or premium? Grey Goose or Ketel One? Flavored or not flavored? How many combinations are right there? And you want prices for all of them? How many different ways can you make a martini? You want a menu of them all?

    If a few dollars might exceed your budget, you probably shouldn’t be spending it on drinks at a bar.


    • I understand how it works in a bar where choices and combinations appear to be endless, but why does a restaurant specifically included an item on a menu yet not include a price? I often think it’s just so that they can show you a picture, make you think “THAT looks good” and coerce you into buying one without regard to price.


  3. Ruth Ann Miller permalink

    Couldn’t agree more. I often don’t buy a cocktail if the price is not listed. As far as so many types of cocktails, usually the standard ones are referred to ‘bar’ or ‘call’. GIVE US PRICES!!


  4. Maybe they think what you don’t know won’t hurt you . . . until it’s too late! I usually order water everywhere I eat out nowdays and boy does it cut the bill! Love that!


  5. Roly permalink

    I like to know the price first so that I don’t get blind sided by an outrageous price once presented with the bill. Window displays and goods must be clearly marked or I won’t buy it.


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