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June 29, 2011

Thanks to new alcohol tax, expect a 25-cent bump on beer Friday

When the first tax hike on alcohol in a generation takes effect Friday, expect some bars to bump the price of beer by at least 25 cents, not the three cents that the lawmakers asked for. 

That's what Annie Linskey reports in today's paper.

"Bar owners, who typically include the sales tax as part of a beverage's advertised price, don't like dealing in pennies, nickels or dimes. Prices, particularly at the local joints, are set in 25-cent increments.

"If you are tending bar, and it is a Saturday night, you can't make change," explained Andrew Burke, the owner of John Steven Ltd., a bar in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood. "The guy at the bar isn't going to count out 86 cents while three more people are waiting for a drink."

 For some bars, like Slainte in Fells Point, it'll be the first time in three years they'll touch prices, and employees aren't happy.

But some drinkers say a 25-cent surcharge is too small to notice. Thoughts?

Photo: Andrew Burke pouring beer at John Steven Ltd. (Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun)

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Posted by Erik Maza at 12:44 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I can live with the new alcohol tax, since at least some of the proceeds are going to DDA services, which are very underfunded. It won't stop me from buying a beer.

a 25 cent hike on prices is barely noticeable - it's an extra dollar per round essentially

the people will notice the difference the most will be the bartenders... if you get a $3 beer, you would usually leave $4, if it's a $3.25 beer, you will still probably leave $4, so the tip will be less for each transaction if that holds true

Waaaahhhh! Having worked in bars and restaurants for over 8 years, I understand the ridiculous profit margins that owners get for just one pint of domestic swill. Don't even ask about the imports. I think the owners can stand two extra cents without jacking up the prices. But the greedy owners looking for a quick buck and a scapegoat will. Keep your eyes out for them and go somewhere else.

Bingo. This is an excuse for bars to jack up prices. They can point to the tax and say "We have to!" but it has minuscule impact on the profit margins on a pint of beer, glass of wine, or mixed drink.

@ Adam,

Those Markups are the reason you got Paid. Its called business. Profit. Making a Living.

Jack I highly doubt anyone is going to get paid more as a result of this tax hike aside from the state's hole-ridden coffers

I manage club in Maryland and we are going to feel the increase. My break even point is around 80k a month so that is a tax increase of over 28k a year if I am just breaking even. my taxes just increased 2500+ a month. So no this is not an excuse to raise prices and I think it sucks for the bars and the customers

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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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