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Pricey premium liquor: Customer stunned by $55 glass of scotch

Just like so many other high-end things these days, premium liquor has been hit by "drink-flation."
Pricey premium liquor: Customer stunned by $55 glass of scotch
Posted at 5:58 AM, Jan 26, 2024

If you’re planning to drink in or out, you might be served a side of sticker shock with your cocktail this year. From a nice glass of wine to an after-dinner cocktail, you may be paying more to indulge these days.

Some are calling it "drink-flation."

James Delorenzo was at brunch with a friend when they decided to have a scotch on the rocks. He ordered two Johnnie Walkers.

But which one?

"The waitress said do you want Red, Blue or Black," he said.

He chose Blue, which sounded different from the more basic Red version, and then paid at the waitress's portable scanner.

"I pressed the green button and didn't think that much about it," he said.

Bad idea.

"I examined it the next day, and there was a charge for $110 for the two mixed drinks," he said.

He was charged a stunning $55 a glass.

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Liquor stores warn of high prices

Micah Dennison, manager of The Party Source, isn't surprised. His store keeps Johnnie Walker Blue in a locked case because of its very high price.

"You're at $240 for 750 ml of Johnnie Walker Blue right now," he said.

Meanwhile, Dennison showed us that Johnnie Walker Red is only $40 a bottle.

"You want to look at the list and know what Johnnie Walker you are ordering," he said.

Dennison says bourbons and whiskeys can cost hundreds of dollars a bottle due to scarcity — some of it planned, some not.

"Supply and demand has a lot to do with it, especially for the specific labels," he said.

In addition, he says, you have higher labor rates at distilleries, as well as higher bottling costs. Whether you’re a bourbon enthusiast or not, drinking socially will cost you.

The cost-of-living calculator estimates:

- A bottle of beer averages under $3 at supermarkets, but will run you at least $7 in a bar.

- A bottle of wine on your shelf at home for $14 will cost you barely more than one cocktail in a club.

And if the drink calls for a high-end liquor, you'll be paying even more. Some Rémy Martin cognac can cost well over $1,000 per bottle. 

Be careful asking for that in a bar. Lorenzo's tip? Ask before ordering.

"$55 for one mixed drink? I've been around the block a few times, and I've never had something like that happen," he said.

So don't assume that bar drink will cost just $12 these days.

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