Everything You Need to Know About Bottle Service

Few things scream excess quite like bottle service. From New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between, you’ll find people paying exorbitant sums of money for a single bottle of liquor and a couple of mixers. So what’s the deal?

Anyone new to reserving a bottle for the table at their favorite club can find the process a little intimidating. But bottle service, despite its VIP exclusivity, is as straightforward as reserving an umbrella on the beach. Here’s everything you need to know about bottle service before you assemble the crew for the club.

The Basics

Bottle service (also called table service), is the act of buying a full bottle of liquor or Champagne at a drinking establishment such as a club or particularly swanky bar. The details vary place to place, but in general, the price of the bottle includes basic mixers like cranberry juice, limes and soda, as well as a table somewhere in the club.

Bottle service is a relatively new concept. In 2006, New York magazine writer Brian Niemietz traced the first bottle service to bottles of sake in Japan in the early 1940s. The first modern iteration was in 1988 in the Paris nightclub Les Bains Douches, where people bought a table and received a complimentary bottle. By 2001, bottle service was king at clubs like Pangaea, Bungalow 8 and Lotus, where a bottle of Grey Goose could go for $500.

Today, bottle service is nearly everywhere, but it’s most popular in major travel destinations. A spokesperson from the bottle service booking website Discotech tells Supercall that Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles and New York are the most popular places for bottles service.

What It Costs

If you only know one thing about bottle service, it’s most likely that it’s expensive. The actual price varies from spot to spot, but you can pretty much guarantee that it’s more than you want to pay for a bottle of booze.

For example, Birthday Bottle Service, a reservation app based in New York, lists the prices per bottle at Ainsworth Park as: $375 for Belvedere and Don Julio and $350 for Jack Daniel’s and Ketel One. According to the wine and liquor pricing website Wine Searcher, the average price for Don Julio is $44 in New York, $30 for Belvedere, $25 for Jack Daniel's and $23 for Ketel One.

In Las Vegas, which the Discotech spokesperson says is the most expensive city for bottle service, those premiums can be even higher. The minimum price for bottle service at the Las Vegas club XS, for example, starts at $3,200, and the highest starts at $10,000.

The high price tag doesn’t include tax and tip. Expect another 20 percent added in gratuity, as well as state tax, raising the cost by around 30 percent. Bottled water and Red Bull are also usually extra.

It all depends on factors like which club you go to, if a celebrity is planning to make an appearance and how popular the DJ playing that night is. The only way to know is to ask the club itself or negotiate through a booking service, but if you have to ask then you probably can’t afford it.

How to Get Bottle Service

Places most known for bottle service usually outline prices and who to talk to on the club’s website. But just because it’s not listed doesn’t mean the bar or club doesn’t have bottle service. You can go through a third-party app or try and negotiate with the bar for yourself if you’re a haggler. Just be sure to book early and know what you’re getting into when talking with exclusive clubs.

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