How to Order Whiskey at a Bar

If you find yourself at a bar staring at a whiskey menu, and are undecided on what to order, here's one tip you'll thank me for. Order the least expensive one on the menu. It works like a charm for me all the time.

One thing I've discovered when reviewing prices on a whiskey menu is that many times the prices are off on some whiskeys. And for reasons I'm not entirely sure why. Either the person responsible for setting prices is just winging it, or they increase certain prices based on the popularity, or the perceived popularity, of certain whiskeys.

It should be a simple mathematical equation. Let's say a bottle cost $50. There are about 25 ounces in a 750ML bottle so each ounce is about $2. Bars usually pour 1.5 ounces per drink, so their cost is about $3 per pour. If a bar's mark-up is 3-4x cost, the drink should run $9-$12. Well many times it doesn't. I've seen drinks priced above $20 for a bottle that cost $50. Heck, for the price of two drinks you could almost buy the bottle yourself. And have fifteen more drinks from it. Plus there are some great bottom shelf whiskeys. You'd be surprised. I was.

If there's something special on the menu that you have been wanting to try, go for it. But if you are unfamiliar with the price of whiskey and don't want to overpay, go low. I've also seen some whiskeys priced too low as well. I'd rather get lucky and underpay on the low end, than overpay on the high end.

Another tip: Try anything with the words Bottled-in-Bond, or Bonded. It harkens back to the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, enacted at the time to help guaranty a whiskey's authenticity. Today it simply means that the whiskey is at least four years old and bottled at 100 proof. A great pour, at a great price.

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