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October 10, 2008

Bottle service in Baltimore



I ate at Red Maple in Mount Vernon recently, and it was the first time I had noticed bottle service at a Baltimore restaurant. (Although you can argue that Red Maple is more lounge than restaurant, the fact that Jill Snyder, its executive chef, is a contestant on the current season of Bravo's Top Chef suggests otherwise.)

In case you're not familiar with the concept, you buy a bottle of premium liquor at a breathtaking mark up. For the money you get mixers, fruit and ice -- and at clubs, a reserved table. The advantage is that you get your drinks on your terms.

And, more importantly, there's the cool factor. ...

I asked Midnight Sun Sam how common bottle service was in Baltimore, and he told me it's gaining ground slowly. It started appearing about five years ago, he said. It's been slow to catch on, Sam thinks, because the concept hasn't been explained well to potential customers.

Of course, a $225 tab for a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black might be another reason.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:57 PM | | Comments (55)
Categories: Wine and Spirits


I'm wondering, if you get bottle service, how much you tip your server & bartender, since you are mixing your own drinks, right at your table.

But I'm not going to ask that.

What's to explain? you have 20-25 shots in a bottle and then multiply by a shot rate. Was Sam even legal five years ago? And if he was, did he complain about how slow his beer came from the bartender? Tool

[H]ow much you tip your ...

If you are pretentious enough to pay that kind of mark-up on a bottle of liquor, you will undoubtedly throw down a couple of twenties or a fifty for a tip, because you are that pretentious.

If you follow the link in EL's post to Red Maple's website, wait for the page to load, click on "NIGHTLIFE", then go to the pull-down menu, select "NIGHTLIFE"/"INFO", and then click on "Bottle Service", it indicates that a 20% gratuity is automatically added to the tab.

Thanks, hmpstd. I did click on the link, but the page started to load in such a way that I it looked like it would take a long time. So I closed it. My shift was over. I needed to hit the road for the long drive home.

Sounds kinda like One-Eyed Mike's in Fells Point, where members store their bottles of Grand Marnier.

So why isn't there a place where there is a Makers Mark club?

Perhaps Bourbon Girl knows?

I kinda like my Makers at home.

Never was concerned that much about cool....and if someone had an open bottle of gin around me...I'd get sick....never liked Pine Sol either

Hue wrote:if someone had an open bottle of gin around me...I'd get sick....never liked Pine Sol either

Good one, Hue. I've been trying to put that thought into words for years. You just did it for me and I am stealing it to use later. Thanks.

When I get old(er) I'm going to keep a bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream at the Peppermill.

Jeff - I must have a serious drinking problem. I can't imagine what size bottle I'd need to get 20-25 shots out of one.

Isn't that why there are eighteen holes on a golf course?
A fifth had eighteen shots in it....
and why a fiftth, not a fourth or a third or even a sixth...probably got it from the same people who give their weight in stones, and their money in pences farthings and guineas

A fifth is a fifth of a gallon, isn't it?

I never knew that about 18 holes of golf. I always heard that golf courses had 18 holes because that's how many St. Andrews had (back when there wasn't a regulation number of holes.) So when they decided to standardize the game, they used the St. Andrews number as the standard.

The number of shots is a much better story, however.

One eyed Mike's takes this interesting concept to heart. You not only buy your own bottle of Grand Marnier, but they will keep it there for you in your multiple trips back.

20-25 shots in a bottle? Maybe in your Barbie Dreamhouse bar.

Speaking of golf, I never understood why my ancestors took a perfect good weapon, and started hitting balls into holes with it. They run out of targets or something?

I think the story about golf being 18 holes because a fifth contains 18 shots is a myth. When golf was first invented, I believe it was 16 holes.

Not sure how they settled on 18 but Bucky's info about St. Andrews sounds credible.

I believe a fifth is a fifth of a gallon, but I've also heard it is 4/5 of a quart.

Perhaps hmpstd could enlighten us?

It's both PCB.

There's about 25 ounces in a standard 750 ml liquor bottle. That's 16.6 1.5 ounces shots. I believe the St. Andrew's story is apocryphal.

I haven't done the exact converstion math (milliliters to ounces to shots), because it's not my thing, but based on my experience a fifth would have 15 shots tops, and I don't think it's quite that many. Calling hmpstd! Calling hmpstd!

I believe a fifth is a fifth of a gallon, but I've also heard it is 4/5 of a quart.

There are 4 quarts in a gallon. 1/5 of a gallon is the same thing as 4/5 of a quart.

One of the things I hate about the metric system is that things don't roll off the tongue well. Asking for "a fifth of bourbon" seems much more civilized than asking for "750 milliliters of bourbon". Also, a fifth is slightly larger than 750 ml.

Wow, Bourbon Girl. How big are the shots you drink? LOL.

Hal VoR wrote: "Also, a fifth is slightly larger than 750 ml"

Okay, well how much more? Because the Koreans who own my corner liquor store call th 750 ml a fifth. (I call it "the small one" vs "the large one"), They only have the small one and the large one. Some places have the medium one too - maybe that is the fifth?

Bucky - I was only off by about 1.6 shots out of a whole bottle. When you're drinking, that's most definitely within the margin of error, yes?

Shots vary from bar to bar but I think 1.5 ounces is usual, so a bottle has 16 shots. It doesn't take a freakin' genius to so metric conversion. Jeez.

Seriously dudes, a fifth is the same as a 750 ml bottle.

A fifth as defined several times above actually would have 757 ml if it still existed. Close enough.

Math time in the Sandbox...what fun.

17 shots to a fifth, at 1.5 oz per shot. With not enough left over to worry about, after 17 shots.

750 ml is the equivalent of 25.344 fluid ounces, versus 25.6 fluid ounces in a fifth. The difference of 0.256 fluid ounces equals a shade over 1-1/2 teaspoons (or a share over 1/2 tablespoon), which wouldn't get a mouse drunk. (Sorry for the delay, folks -- my Internet's been down most of the day.)

Still ...why a fifth?
What other items are sold as a fifth of a gallon?

Hue -- the fifth of a gallon seems to be unique to the US liquor industry, which didn't adopt metric volumes until the 1970s or thereabouts. Before then, most booze was available in fifths, quarts, and half gallons; nowadays, the sizes are 750 ml, liters, and 1.75 liters. As to why the fifth was ever used as a size, perhaps our forefathers were pioneering the shrinkage of quarts while keeping the bottle price constant?

Gailor - is this comment thread what you were talking about? The only thing missing is my Uncle Larry.

I wish Marylanders would celebrate the crab itself more, rather than their self-satisfied Flintstonian Old Bay habit. I think the sweet and earthy taste of crab meat blends perfectly with some of the Asian or tropical flavors that are aromatic and tangy. It really offsets the crab well, like a good frame does for a painting.

Bucky, there are not 17 shots in a bottle. There are 16.6 shots which is 16 shots. Try serving someone 0.6 shots. Didn't you take the TQM training? Half a deliverable is no deliverable.

17.06 shots in a fifth. 16.6 shots in 750ml. (I take your word there...I didn't calculate it.) A fifth is a little bit bigger than 750ml. Like, half a shot bigger, apparently.

In fact, OMG, I'm a recovering GE-Six Sigmoid. Maybe we should have a bourbon lean event.

Owl Meat -- in all fairness to Bucky, he said that there were 17 shots in a fifth, not a bottle. The classic fifth (25.6 oz) does, indeed, contain 17.0666 shots, using your very own 1.5-oz shot measure. Of course, finding a classic fifth in this day and age is virtually impossible. The 750 ml bottle does fall a hair short of 17 full shots.

17.06 shots in a fifth

True, now all we need is a time machine. People are calling the 750 ml bottles fifths. I guess it would more properly be a minor fifth (Piano Rob?).

I'm on fire with the obscure jokes today.

GE? Wow, they really geek out on that stuff. I'll have a virtual shot with you later.

Mr. McIntyre's blog is--no fault of his--infringing on our own again and, since there is no on-point topic to use in documenting it, I'll put it here. In the topic about buying your FAC drinks anywhere from 15 to 25 shots at a time, depending on how well you do arithmetic.
Read the You Don't Say post, then read the second comment, from dave.

Very interesting. To me, anyway.

in all fairness to Bucky, he said ...

hmpstd's got my back. It's a good feeling.

I agree Bucky, that was interesting. Thanks for pointing it out.

Bucky - FAC drinks?

Bourbon Girl - Friday Afternoon Club. Like Happy Hour, but better, because it's Friday.

not to mess up everybody's math, but...

Most bars carry 1 liter bottles.
Most bars pour 1.5 oz shots.
Each bottle has 22.56 1.5oz shots

jason -- not to mess up your math, but ... the subject of this bar topic is Red Maple's "premium liquor" bottle service, not the rail brands that "most bars" might use. Red Maple's website doesn't disclose the size of the bottle service bottles, but it's fair to assume that the 750 ml size is being used on at least one of their "premium" offerings.

jason - I never knew that bars used a different size bottle than the one I buy in the store. I learned something today.

Who would have ever thought that booze could be this complicated?

Sorry, Owlie. There is no such thing as a minor fifth in music. There are major/minor thirds, sixths and sevenths, but the fourths and fifths are "perfect" (with a tritone between them - subnamed either an augmented fourth or a diminished fifth, depending on direction of the interval). Then there are the perfect unison and octave. For more informations, please see Thus endeth todays Music Theory 101 class. Good day.

So, using Piano Rob's information, 750ml is a diminished fifth. Or an augmented fourth.

I'm getting the hang of this. Are you, Gailor?

So, using Piano Rob's information, 750ml is a diminished fifth. Or an augmented fourth.

Diminished fifth would be a more appropriate designation than augmented fourth in this situation, even though the two intervals are enharmonically equivalent. The direction of movement is significant.

Must there be any reference to the dreaded tritone, the most despised interval in Western music?


to be very fair with you, i would almost guarantee that Red Maple and every other "major" bar in the U.S. uses liter bottles for bottle service or for their rail. Please do not try to put me down for my inferior knowledge. It is not fair to assume that Red Maple uses 750mL. ... Most bars use liters because they still fit in the "rail" and they are cheaper to buy by the ounce instead of 750mL. These same bars buy bottles by the case because, once again, it is cheaper. Things you learn when you work in a bar for over 16 years.

jason -- in my years of staring at bar displays from the customer side, as wel as some limited exposure to wholesale liquor purchases, I can't say that there is any 1 L standard rule for premium brands (the kind that you aren't ashamed of displaying above the rail). To like effect, a Google search of bottle service menus with posted bottle sizes showed no trend toward one size or the other.

Smaller bars may actually prefer to buy 750 ml cases because the unit price differential between 750 ml and 1 L isn't all that great, but the cost of the larger case involves a larger cash outlay. If a given brand sells well, there's far better value in 1.75 L bottles than in 1 L; moreover, the cost of a 6-count case of 1.75 L is usually not much more than a 12-count case of 750 ml, but a lot cheaper than a 12-count case of 1 L. Finally, there's always the odd brand that shows up, in whatever size, because the sales rep for the local distributor is running a special on it.

You know you're in a dive bar when they are pouring rail drinks out of handles (1.75 L).

Piano Rob, I was pondering the lyrics to Leonard's Cohen's Hallelujah (the Jeff Buckley version is better known now) and was wondering if there was any musical sense in the following lyricsor is it just word play?

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hmpstd- 1.75 bottles are actually a very great deal, and I actually prefer them for certain liquors, i.e. Tuaca, Jager, and GM. However the 1.75, unfortunately don't fit very well in the "rail". Hence most bars prefer the 1 liter bottles which hold 22 shots.

I was somewhere last night where a rowdy group of manly men were drinking Baliey's and coffee. [Virtual chest bump] The alpha Bailey drinker had the audacity to call his friend a rather emasculating name because he wanted his with ice. What has happened to the world?

Owl, gay men acting straight, straight men acting gay, lipstick lesbians, hippie chicks looking like lesbians... Dogs and cats sleeping together, you know?

It was very interesting for me to read the article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. I would like to read a bit more soon.

Anete Smith
eros ny escorts

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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