The Economics Behind Bottle Service in Dallas

Yesterday Thrillist reported the opening of Manhattan Lounge. The subhead reads: “Prime Uptown real estate for drinkers, dancers, and drink-then-dancers.”

I read the full snippet three times and I am still confused. I have a couple of questions for those of you who party at high-end establishments like Manhattan Lounge. The first one is not too serious.

Can someone explain the first paragraph in the story:

“Once you’ve made it through honest hard work, no one will blame you for surrounding yourself with the finer things, except maybe your ex-wife. And your estranged starter children. And Martin Sheen in Wall Street. Nevertheless moving on Uptown, the co-founder of Manhattan Lounge.”

Serious question: Please explain bottle service to me.  The bottle service at Manhattan Lounge starts at $185, with discounts for 2 or more. (I am assuming that is 2 or more bottles, not people. Yikes.) So, does this mean I am going to pay over $200 with tip and whatnot for two bottles of vodka just to get a place to sit?

Enlighten me. I don’t get it.

UPDATE: Our nightlife editor gives us a sneak peek at Manhattan Lounge.

39 comments on “The Economics Behind Bottle Service in Dallas

  1. Since when does success have to go hand in hand with an ex-wife and estranged starter children? I wonder if they realize how off-putting their marketing line is.

    But then their not exactly targeting my demographics I guess.

  2. I don’t know about the economics of bottle service, but from my experience $185 is a steal. That’s beside the point, the use of the phrase “starter children” is making me throw up in my mouth. Even in jest it sounds disgustingly arrogant and callous.

  3. Honestly that is a steal for bottle service as most places are gonna want at least $500. But the point is, Nancy, you are right, that is what you are paying for. Think the economics though, it is pretty simple. Say you go to a club with a group of 10, how much is each person going to end up paying? (plus tip, of course). Sometimes it is a better deal than having your own tab at a bar, plus you’ll spend more time actually drinking, dancing, and having fun, rather than flagging down bartenders and you’ll have your own little VIP area too.

    Don’t get me wrong, not that I have extensive experience with this… just throwing the numbers out there ;D

  4. The shelf life of that location, which was previously named Manhattan Bar by the same owners, is about 18 months average. I predict about 9 this time around. $185 bottle service in a space that is typically over crowded? Laughable.

  5. To answer your last question, yes. The way most of these ultra-lounges are set up, you won’t get a seat unless you are paying for bottle service.

  6. To understand bottle service read this:
    http://nymag.com/news/features/65238/

    A little long but worth the read…

    “.. bottle girls—carrying Grey Goose and Cristal high above their heads. If you buy two or more bottles at once, they will sometimes deliver them with sparklers. So if you’re paying $2,400 for two $30 bottles of vodka, now the whole room will know. The models or near models will see the fireworks and float over, moths to green light.”

  7. What do they do if you want to drink beer? Do they bring you 48 oz bottles? Obviously not my scene.

  8. bottle service and “high-end” lounges are for D-bags who think they are the S! they are the reason so many people think that Dallas and especially Uptown are full of D-bags. When most of these tight shiny shirt and buckle shoe wearers are probably from Addison. These people are Dallas’s equivalent of Jersey Shore. Let’s see how big I can get and how much product I can use in 1 night on my hair while I get into my leased (insert high-end luxury car here).

  9. Lounges are out. Bar tabs are the new bottle service. Don’t believe me? Go to j blacks on Henderson tommorrow night and guage the talent level.

  10. Also keep in mind that the automatic tip is 20-30% on bottles. For most it’s show but for some it’s cheaper than buying individual drinks. Don’t get it twisted, most clubs sell out their tables in advance. Sometimes promoters can get a cut of the bottle prices as well.

  11. people who actually have money don’t spend it on ridiculously marked-up products. people who actually have money don’t have anything to prove and only pay for VALUE. a 185 bottle of stoli isn’t value. its VALIDATION.

    in my experience, people who get bottle service fit into one of these categories:

    -people with an expense account who dont care.

    -dbags who dont have money, but spend it on wasteful expensive things because they think that’s what people with money do and want to appear to have money.

    -free loaders, ie the 20 people surrounding one of the above suckers who is paying for their drinks.

  12. Bottle service is soooo New York and soooo 2000 A.D., and last I checked we are in Dallas and it’s 2010. Our city council should restrict these D-Bag magnets through SUPs. Kidding. Sort of.

    Oh, sweet Hay-Zeus. Is our politician-in-training from District 4 a bottle service guy? Eww.

  13. The best reference in the Thrillist story: “And Martin Sheen in Wall Street.”

    They’re referring to Sheen’s character, Carl Fox, who said, “Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.”

  14. As a starter wife with a starter child, I will not be spending my hard earned money there. Maybe my ex will spend his money he made off my sweat

  15. Why is it that “high-end” bars that have bottle service or dance music are classified as places for D Bags? I’ve seen more D Bags at pubs & patio bars than I’ve ever seen in a club. There just isn’t justification for labeling one type of place where people go to have fun like that. People have choices to go dance or hang out in shorts on a patio. So what? There are all walks of life in every type of drinking establishment. The poor souls who get caught up in calling people “D Bags,” etc. really should open their eyes and let people be themselves. I’m sure that the $100 western shirt, $200 made to look busted up jeans with Chucks on guy who’s trying to look emo or hip and “only” hangs out in a hipster bars has many of the same “qualities” as the apparent D Bag in a club. Seriously people! Most pubs charge just as much or more for the “high-end” beer than clubs charge for “high-end” cocktails. A $12 beer from Belgium? If a group wants to get bottle service and it makes sense for them, and they’re having fun, let them do it. There’s no need to label them. Most times the economics of the deal plus the environment is worth it but if not, just go where it make you happy. Getting. Off. Soapbox….now.

  16. Why are they “classified as places for D-Bags?” Well, because the migratory packs known as D-Bags congregate at these clubs like a combination of hyenas on a carcass and modern day Oscar Wildes, minus the literary skill.

  17. it’s all about clique mentality. whether it’s an ultra lounge or going to a dive, people want to separate their group from the other. Table service is just one way people do this. If the economics make sense to them then so be it. It happens everywhere.

  18. Wow, I just got to the blog. this is fascinating to me. I’ve been thinking about it and in some ways I can see it makes economic sense. So if you get say, two fifths of vodka or scotch or whatever, that is 50 ounces of booze which if you pour 1.5 ounces (yeah, right) into each that would be about 34 drinks. Does that usually include mixers (sorry haven’t read the links.) I suppose one drink is $10 then you could save money, especially if you have a large party. However, because this was sorta simple for me to figure out probably means it isn’t this clear cut in real life. D-Bags? I say wherever there is a mass quantity of liquor there are D-Bags. And that can even be at my house. Well, back in the day…You know when bottle server was wiping the top off after you took a chug and passed it to the person next to you.

  19. This is going to take a sec…bear with me.

    BC – If you mean the Bobby Bottle Service-guy as referenced in the Funny or Die skit looking for the elusive belt buckle, heavens no. Not my style. But I do have friends that get tables.

    “Not SDM or jon” has it right; I just don’t get why every person that buys bottles has to be a called a DB. Now if you’re maxing your CC’s by yourself going broke to look important, that’s another thing.

    Nancy asked about the economics and that’s what I gave.

    Most people don’t buy 1-2 bottles solo, they split it among friends. Most places charge $20 for cover. Drinks cost $7-10 a piece. So 10 people go in on a bottle (15-20 or so shots in a bottle). You buy a bottle and your whole table is in free and skips the line.

    For women, it actually makes sense as they often get a table in VIP where they can have fun and not be hounded all night.

  20. Michael, I’m sorry but if I am spending that kind of money and made the effort to have a pair of shoes on after 9pm, I would expect hounding.

  21. it might make economic sense inside high-end lounges, but what doesn’t make sense is going to the high-end lounge in the first place and willingly paying that much per drink (maybe my math leaning brain seeks out value too much when I’m drinking and I’d rather go to a bar where Tito’s/Goose/Belv is only $5-6). I think Jon spelled it out very nicely regarding who does bottle service. I also agree that it’s stupid to pay $12 for a beer. but I’m glad these places exist, it keeps a lot of people out of the places I enjoy. the scenery is nice at these places though (who would have thought that girls like getting free drinks).

  22. Starck Club? We just drank lots of water there.

    That story, with details of the ex wife and the estranged starter children? Someone should be fired for that. It’s the literary equivalent of stinky pee.

  23. If you don’t know what bottle service is you’re a loser.

    Its like speedos: you don’t need to wear them, but you sound stupid loudly proclaiming you don’t know what they are.

  24. You don’t get bottle service to save money on drinks. You’re not saving any money that way, you’d get 10-12 drinks at most and they do usually include 2 mixers, cranberry and OJ or something. What you’re really buying is a table for your women and possibly yourself to sit at, rather than having to wander around all night as the place gets crowded and more area gets consumed by “VIP”.

    I’d rather spend $12 for draught of what’s a $6 bottle of beer one time to try it than $300 (average bottle service price) for a $35 bottle of vodka that I have at home anyway.

  25. well luniz it’s not for you. you’re assumption is wrong actually. people do it for different reasons.

  26. Very Lit Prof, your analogy is as dumb as the lede in the Thrillist story. I admit I’m a loser but a Speedo swimsuit is much more common than bottle service. At least I hope so or I am a bigger loser than I thought. But I know what huitlacoche is and I bet you don’t. Everybody knows that.
    Kirk, I get the Wall Street reference, I don’t get “Nevertheless moving on Uptown, the co-founder of Manhattan Lounge.” And what comes after starter children? Hello Thrillist writer, are you out there???

  27. this isn’t about spending money v. not. its about how you spend it. anyone with money can get bottle service. it takes some education and refinement to pay a premium for and appreciate the finer things. bottom line is those think they have taste look down on those who don’t. that’s what this is really about.

    no one would thing twice about a discussion of a $185 bottle of nice wine.

    on “awesome nightlife blog” i’m sure they are making fun of us fuddyduddies who spend $200 on dinner and are in bed by 11pm, when we could have just eaten taco bell and spent that money on a bottle and still be partying as we speak!

    of course they have the right to bottle service and who are we to crap on their good time? have a blast! just provide documentation that I am not paying for your upside down addison condo mortgage.

    as for stereotyping clubs and dbags: yes, in dallas texas there is no shortage of dbags. and the hipsters are equally annoying. but just because you can find dbags outside of clubs doesn’t mean the clubs aren’t majority full of them. logical fallacy.

  28. I know what bottle service is (so I guess I’m not a loser), but I’ve never witnessed it in action. I wonder how Manhattan makes sense to an ex-Knox St. pub owner. Time will tell. . .

  29. PF – he started the first Manhattan before Knox St and I believe ripped off several investors (could be wrong). He’s had luck with these clubs before (I believe in Addison) and I’m sure this will be hot for close to a year and then fail. He also started Liar’s Den/whatever and Tribeca. I think the plan is start it, it will be hot for a couple of months, then sell, sell, sell. Also started Rocco’s pizza I believe.

  30. I must say, I think anyone associated with this dbag club will be a dbag loser. I guess after all the postings, I am glad that I am a starter wife with a starter child that does not fit in with the Manhattan Club dbags. Dear Manhattan PR person, thank you for pointing that out, you are correct, I do not belong in your dbag group. I would not waste my valuable time surrounding myself with such dbag energy.

    And I live part-time in Manhattan, NY. I would rather spend my money on the real thing.

  31. I always find it funny when people attack others for their purchases be it bottle service or a luxury item.

    Example: I have a friends who thinks it is idiotic to buy expensive luggage. When I bought mine he told me numerous times it was a waste. Well same guy went and bought a very large truck with all the bells and whistles Texas Edition. The guy walks to work. And works in finance. Why does he need the truck? Beats me.

    The point is everyone has preferences on how they want to spend THEIR money.

    Me and my buddies went to Vegas for my bachelor party and had bottle service at the Bank in the Bellagio. There were 8 of us. We got a great table next to the dance floor, 3 bottles, 8 redbulls, shots, tip, and more – we had spent 1600 dollars. For 6 hours of drinking and debauchery, our own cocktail and personal bouncer. 200 dollars each. It was a blast. Now we got bottle service because we typically do not. And let me tell you it was worth every damn penny. And its something I haven’t done since.

    If I was in Vegas and didn’t have table service and bought rounds of shots I could of spent that in no time. 8 shots x 10 dollars minimum = 80 dollars. So I would buy two rounds of drinks and almost reach 200 dollars. Its economics and the complete experience.

    People “splurge” on the items or experiences that interest them. One person might buy a 1200 dollars LV bag another person might buy a 1200 dollar shotgun. Or if you spend 300+ at a nice restaurant or 300+ at a club. Its all about preference – and if it isn’t your preference – who cares?