The Reason Bottle Service Isn't Worth It And What To Order Instead

It's hard to deny that getting bottle service is cool. It's an instant ticket to star status, often complete with the best booth in the house, a personal server, and extra attention. Bottle service is to a bar or nightclub what "table service" is to a restaurant. The guests' experience is facilitated by a personal server, and instead of by the drink, you pay by the bottle. Sound scintillating? Don't get carried away by the champagne bubbles. As soon as you start talking numbers, all that gold starts to look a little less glittery.

For example, at 48 Lounge in New York City, bottle service runs from $600-$1,500, depending on the bottle.  The biggest, most consistent factor that makes bottle service a waste of money is the markups. At Chicago's Shore Club, a bottle of Grey Goose runs for $310. At market price, the same bottle of Grey Goose is about $60. That's a 300% markup, and a bottle in the $300 range is usually the starting range and is considered a budget-friendly option in the bottle service arena. Now tack on the cover charge or door fee, which is common at a lot of luxury clubs, and you'll start wondering if it's really all worth it.

Simply splurge and tip your bartender well

When you order bottle service, you're not paying for the bottle — you're paying for the experience. With this in mind, if it's a taste of the sweet life you're after, there are thrifty ways to enjoy a high-rolling night without relenting to pricey bottle service. 

On the utilitarian side, one of the biggest draws of bottle service is not having to wait in long lines at the bar to order a drink. To get around this, grab a seat on a barstool near the cash register; since that's where your bartender will circle back most often to cash people out, you're essentially posting up at the front of the line for easy ordering access all night long. Another perk of bottle service is having a guaranteed seat, even if the joint starts getting crowded and becomes standing-room only. If you want a designated place to party, get to the bar before 9 p.m. and secure a good table. That corner booth can be all yours with a little planning.

If you fancy bottle service for the glamor, achieve that luxury evening by ordering fancy cocktails and tipping your bartender fat. In the industry, money talks, and if you take good care of your bartender, they'll certainly return the favor — and remember you the next time you visit. (Hello, A-lister service, sans bottle service fee.)