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July 6, 2010

The Baltimore bottle (or table) service post

martini glasses!At some clubs in Washington, Miami and New York, the only way to get a seat anywhere is to get bottle service.

Side note: It's alternately called table service, too. I think they're the same thing.

Bottle service is where you pay a huge chunk of change -- sometimes as much as $200 or $300 -- for a bottle of liquor, mixers and, in some places, your own bartender. It also guarantees that you have a reserved table, as long as you keep spending money.

For obvious reasons, bottle service hasn't gripped Baltimore clubs like it has other cities ...

First off, we don't have that many high-end clubs to begin with. Baltimore doesn't have much of a high-end lounge mentality. The only places I know of that have bottle service are Angels Rock Bar, Lux and Mosaic. Those are the only ones that come to mind right away, at least. If you know of any more, feel free to post them.

I think a lot of Baltimoreans are loathe to shell out a couple hundred bucks for a bottle of liquor just to get a table at a club. In Miami and New York, it's accepted practice at this point. Not so here -- at least not yet.

There are some benefits to bottle service: You get your own table, and if you're with friends and split the bill, it doesn't end up costing you an arm and a leg. Plus, you get to drink top shelf liquor and don't have to wait in line at the bar.

But there are downsides, too: In order to get a table at a club/lounge, you have to spend a bunch of money. 

As a club owner/patron, where do you stand? Are you for or against bottle service? And do you wish Baltimore had more/less of it?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Doug Kapustin)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:31 AM | | Comments (18)


As a patron, I hope the trend stays far far away from Baltimore. We aren't currently, and don't want to become NYC or Miami. I am happily content with a pint of Loose Cannon, a shot of Beam, and a stool at the bar, thank you very much. I dont need an extremley over priced botle of extremely over rated liquor like Grey Goose to have a good time.

But I think you already knew the answer Sam.

I think it's completely moronic, 200-300 for a bottle of liquor that cost 30 at the liquor store? I can't believe how stupid some people are.

I appreciate Baltimore trying to be a tad bit cosmopolitan in certain aspects just not everywhere. There are twice as many places that offer table service in Baltimore than you menoned Sam- and it's just not worth it most places here.

I've paid for table service here and in many other cities- I don't deem it "stupid" just paying for a convienence, that some like to partake in when having fun and not havin to worry about using coinstar to indulge is anoption.

However I am also against required table service whereas there are no bar stools and you can only sit down if you buy a bottle. This happened to me in Hollywood and I reluctantly paid and had a great time.

Oh, Baltimore promoters- I LOVE the Hollywod method of table service- you pay $300 and you get $250 worth of food and drink- it' absolutely fair and reasonable! I thnk it's $250 and $50 gratuity.

I think it is all supply and demand. If there are places in Baltimore that can support bottle service, then I have no problem with it. I personally, wouldnt want it, but it gives people options. I cant see it spreading to too many Baltimore clubs, because there arent that many places in high demand. If the places that do offer it now can flourish, its probably good for the city to have some variety.

i think you either have to be a huge douche or a huge moron to go to place w/ bottle service.

Sounds like a D-bag tax by places that cater to D-bags. I'm all for it.

I wish we had more places like this in Baltimore!

Me too!

Club One started bottle service back in 2003, I think. I talked to the liquor board many years ago and they said that it was illegal due to the fact that "you can't serve customers more than one drink at a time".

I used to work at Rumjungle in Mandalay Bay in Vegas back in 2000 and the good thing about bottle service is that you wouldn't have to pay a cover charge ($20) for you and 3 of your friends which made it worth it to buy a bottle. Plus you got your own table and waitress.

If you do the math it can be worth it.

Grey Goose- $8 at high end bar x 20 shots a bottle is $160 plus if you save on the cover charge and have your own table and waitress then it might be worth it.

I'm with Jason on this. The mark-up is truly ridiculous at first glance, but when you think about it on a whole, it's not outrageous if you're going to drink it all and have a group to split it up with. I've been trying to talk my friends into doing a fancy night out with bottle service, but we'll prob do it in DC, unless anyone has a really good recommendation up here.

Me and you, Kateebee, along with ECommerceConsultant will go out and share a bottle.

@Jason Yes, not only do you avoid the cover, but in LA you avoid the hour and a half wait in the line that circles the block. You also have the option to use your table service dollars for rounds of appetizers and/or entrees. Maybe table service/bottle service is different. I paid for table service at a sports bar down y Camden yards, we had an entire lounge, table and waitress in front of the largest projector screen in the place while everyone fought for standing spots and even resulted to watching the fight on the bathroom urinals. I think it's well worth it enjoying food, drink, beverage and entertainment in luxury while others lounge around urinals. I enjoy being a douche.

Jason, sounds good. Sounds like Tif's in also.

Just for kicks and giggles I searched my inbox for "bottle service" and hundreds of emails came up. 90% were from the late Mark Baltimore (his service was yesterday). I wonder who's going to carry the baton in Baltimore fromnow on.

Sun article: "Last ride for a partying man",0,652837.story

@Tif -- Thanks for posting the Mark Baltimore piece. I would have linked to that story when it came out, but I was on vacation and away from my computer. Nick Madigan did a fine job with that profile. Mark Baltimore will be missed.

I'm glad the Sun had a write up. I hope to read more about the mark Mark left on this town.

The primary reasons to to bottle service are to skip long lines and get better service. Most places in Baltimore don't have long lines and they definitely forget the service part.

I can tell you that in Miami or Vegas my glass never goes dry, but around here they seem to drop the bottles and then they expect more than a 20% tip. I may grab a table if one of my favorite DJ's comes into town, but thats about it.

Who's in for a little A.C. roadtrip to Mur.Mur?

I've only done bottle service once, and it was in Vegas. I initially scoffed at the idea, too, but then realized it wasn't quite as bad as I thought. I think we paid $300, but in addition to the bottle and private table, we also got an additional $100 bar tab for later in the night.

Sure, there's a price premium built in, but that's to be expected when you go out. I don't think it was a terrible deal.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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