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Neat Fees?

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Neat Fees?

Postby TheSyndicate » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:30 pm

Last night when perusing my bill after dinner, I noticed that the price for my Macallan 12 was $2 more than the price listed on the drink list. When asked about the difference, I was informed that I was charged the $2 for ordering it "neat". I suppose I see the point of this - it takes a bit more booze to make the glass look like a full and proper drink has been poured - but the "neat fee" was not listed on the drink menu and nowhere else in Madison have I encountered a fee for ordering booze without ice.

So how common are "neat fees"? Do restaurants that charge them commonly leave them off of the menu/drink list? Is this an insidious way to milk us of an couple of bucks?
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby white_rabbit » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:47 pm

I've worked for around 12 different restaurants, bars and clubs in my 42 years and I've never heard of such a thing as a "neat fee", nor have I ever been charged such a thing in the countless restaurants, bars and clubs that I have patronized since I started dining out and drinking 21 years ago. What is the name of this establishment that has "neat fees"?
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby Velvet Coffin » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:51 pm

I'm so shocked and appalled that I think I need a drink to soothe my ruffled spirits (pun intended). But I'm afraid of being charged extra. Please name the criminal institution so I can thumb my nose at them.

Some kind of ice protest might be called for.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby mrak » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:54 pm

I hadn't heard of this either, which is less surprising as I've never been a Scotch drinker or a bartender, but it turns out, it's a concept that's making the rounds:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07233/810938-46.stm

My first thought was, sounds like a real dick move.

Ruth Reichl of Gourmet magazine apparently has a bit more class than I, and put it thusly: "Seems like a stupid move to me, a perfect way to annoy your customers."

I stand with my fellow Forons in wanting you to name names.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby wallrock » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:59 pm

That would definitely annoy the hell out of me, and probably cost the server a tip (I realize of course that would be unfair and all, but it would be my honest response unless the server was all apologetic about it). I don't usually order neat, but if I did I'd be more upset at an extra charge as opposed to a not-completely full drink, especially so if the "charge" wasn't listed on the drink list.

I'd also be very interested to find out the name of this establishment, for purposes of avoidance.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby TheSyndicate » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:32 pm

The offending restaurant is the Blue Marlin.

The waitress was apologetic but did not offer to remove the neat fee from the bill.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby Kenneth Burns » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:38 pm

If you're drinking rail Evan Williams and the neat fee is $2, you've just doubled your cost right there.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby wallrock » Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:40 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:If you're drinking rail Evan Williams and the neat fee is $2, you've just doubled your cost right there.

If you're drinking rail Evan Williams neat, you've probably got bigger problems than neat fees.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby massimo » Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:50 pm

We'll have to start ordering Knob Creek on the rocks, ice on the side.

This sounds a bit like some sushi places that charge extra for sashimi, but just end up giving you the same cut and size of fish without the rice.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby boston_jeff » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:27 pm

Mac 12 and 18 are usually some of the most expensive Scotches on the menu at your average bar, and one usually gets a short one finger pour unless the place is generous or you know the bartender. With rocks I expect that glass to be filled higher, the same amount of scotch naturally. Why would there be any difference in price?

Adding a neat fee is just ridiculous. The next thing you know they will use a spirits tap that like they do in some European countries. Exactly the same predetermined amount in each glass, and gross sticky taps for 8 dollar glasses of whisky.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby Elliot » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:20 pm

How many fingers did you get? One or two? Or can't you tell. (slut)
Sorry, anyway, the price listed for scotch may have been for a rocks or mixed drink pour. Many places will pour a finger on the rocks, and two neat, thus the additional charge. You may have gotten more at a lower price per ounce as a result. One finger is about an ounce or ounce and a half, or otherwise, one shot. A neat pour should be two shots or about 3 ounces. If this is what happened, then you can expect an additional charge for additional scotch. If this is not what happened, then perhaps you should have taken it up with the bartender and not the server.

Or perhaps you should petition your local alderman to standardize the terminology, serving size, glassware, and fees applicable to scotch citywide, thus to ensure no one is confused in the future.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:59 pm

Isn't there a global water crisis or some shit? Shouldn't Madison bars (of all places) be rewarding less water, and in particular less water that requires energy to freeze?

Unless they're just putting 'em in a snowbank, of course.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby TheSyndicate » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:29 pm

It was certainly NOT two fingers of scotch. At best (and this is being charitable) it was between one and two fingers.

Like I said, I think I understand the rationale behind "neat fees". But as I've never been charged for ordering a drink "neat" before and as the fee was not listed on the menu, I was surprised. After talking to a bartender friend this evening (and reading some of the responses to my original question), I'm lead to think that such fees are either (1) rare or (2) dishonest. If I'm ordering a drink with ice it should be the same amount of booze as if I'm ordering it neat.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:09 am

You are 100% correct.
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Re: Neat Fees?

Postby buckyor » Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:03 pm

TheSyndicate wrote:I'm lead to think that such fees are either (1) rare or (2) dishonest.


Why does it have to be one or the other? It's quite possible to be both.
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