Surprised By Your Recent Bar Tab? You're Not Alone

By now, many living in the U.S. have come to find that prices for almost all of life's necessities are at some of the highest in recent history. While some may have decided to cook at home more often, rather than dine out, others have just come to accept that the increase is unavoidable, no matter their decision. But one bill you might not have expected to rise with the price of food is your bar tab. 

As the New York Times recently reported, inflation has driven up just about every aspect of operating a bar: from the price of garnishes like limes (which by some accounts quadrupled in the past few years) to electricity bills to increased wages. The cost of some alcohols have also risen; Though VinePair said in December of last year this was not by significant amounts, the outlet reported some experts were spooked and predicting a shortage. All of these factors add up to a more expensive night out.

Once again, the supply chain is to blame

The potential alcohol shortage is largely due to ongoing supply chain issues, shared VinePair. Some retailers were facing problems getting their products delivered, while others were relying on suppliers who simply did not have inventory to ship in the first place. One New York City bar owner who spoke to the New York Times cited this inventory concern as a reason their operating costs had increased, stating they had been purchasing extra "premium" bottles and preparing for the worst. This same owner also told the outlet they were informed prices could go up 15% in the coming months by a liquor supplier.

While you might decide to save some money by staying in and making your own drinks, that only works if you are able to find the ingredients. According to The Virginia Pilot, in January 2022 liquor stores in Virginia were experiencing that predicted shortage. A public relations manager for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority told the outlet "it may be mid-2022 or later before they [ABC liquor stores] are able to sustain inventory levels to fulfill consumer demands."

So for the time being, it could be worth spending more to ensure you get what you want (provided your local bar still has your favorite bottles on hand), but you may also want to ask about the menu prices first to avoid an unpleasant surprise.