Reader: Is $9 too much to pay for a cocktail?

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On the Thursday before Christmas, Laura Shunk highlighted five festive cocktails that don't include hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, including the Figgy's Manhattan at Steuben's, which is made by combining Wild Turkey 81, Carpano Antica vermouth and Navan vanilla liqueur and infusing the whole thing with figs for five days.

But reader Mani is tired of Steuben's and the restaurant's cocktail prices.

"Don't know why Steuben's keeps getting the mention on this page. They have without a doubt the smallest most over priced drinks in Denver," Mani writes. "Last time I was there I got 3 oz of Liquor for 9 bucks - WTF?"

Is $9 bucks too much for a good cocktail in these parts, or is it actually low compared to what a drink will set you back elsewhere? Let us know what you think.


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8 comments
GeneralRipper
GeneralRipper

I'd pay $9 for grain alcohol over ice made with rainwater, but I can't find it anywhere.

denvergirl
denvergirl

Every time I go, Steuben's consistently delivers high quality food and cocktails, warm and genuine service and hospitality to its guests, and an overall great time.  Having visited many other cities and gone out for dinner and drinks, I know a fair price when I see one--and Steuben's offers just that.

Yes, I could go to a dive bar and order a cheap drink, but all that would accomplish is leaving a few extra dollars in my pocket, and filling my liver with cheap, poor-quality liquor.  Given the choice, I'll pay $9 for a cocktail at Steuben's or any other solid, locally owned Denver restaurant any day of the week.

Jeff
Jeff

$9 is extremely reasonable for a craft cocktail.  Like anything else, you get what you pay for.  I've never felt ripped off by the $12 cocktails at The Green Russell either.  They're worth it.

Keynes
Keynes

It's pretty simple.  $9 is too much when people stop paying it.

Ajgooty
Ajgooty

I think the question of what  cocktail is worth mostly depends on what spirits are in it.  Its disappointing to go to a place like Lous food bar and see all the cocktails are $10 regardless of what’s in it. The tequila they use is Espolon which is about $20 a bottle. Yet the drinks made with Stranahans were also $10 but the bottle cost upwards of $45. $9 for a quality drink made with good ingredients is a fair value. Especially compared to some other cities.

Randy Layman
Randy Layman

As the Bar Manager at Steuben's, pricing is something that I am very conscience of and I do appreciate where you are coming from Mani.

Brian, thank you for the kind words. Mantonat, you made some fantastic points.

If anyone was ever curious about why cocktails are priced the way they are, here are some factors that I take into consideration when adding a dollar sign to a drink:

-Cost of quality spirits and ingredients. A bottle of Carpano Antica Vermouth costs more than double what a cheaper version would be, but the taste if worth every penny.-Cost of employees to facilitate your drinking pleasure. Training employees and paying them to make your drinks is expensive. -Responsible drinking. The human body only breaks down about 1.5 ounces of pure alcohol per hour. That's the equivalent of one 6 ounce glass of wine or one pint of beer. Adding too much booze to one drink can be very dangerous. A drink like the Figgy Manhattan has 3 oz of distilled spirits. Enough alcohol to keep your body busy for up to two hours.-What are other quality bars charing for their cocktails? Denver, overall, has a very affordable craft cocktail scene. I have personally drank at bars in San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, London and Los Angeles and paid nearly double what we would pay for in our great State of Colorado. I even paid $10 for a Virgin Ramos Gin Fizz at a cocktail bar called the Velvet Tango Room in Cleveland.-The dishwasher. The next time you have a $9 cocktail, be thankful you don't have to clean the glass, the tools used to make the drink, the bottles at the end of the night or take out the trash from the empty bottles used lemon peels. 

Our cocktail coupes at Steuben's are 5.5 oz when they are filled to the brim. The days of the 1990's oversized martini glass is gone. The days of balanced classic cocktails with delivered with care are back. 

Next time you want a bucket of whiskey for less than $9, go to the Lancer Lounge it rules!

Brian Melton
Brian Melton

Try any bar on Colfax, Don's Mixed Drinks or any other great Dive Bar if you're looking for cheap drinks. Keep the bar low and you'll pay low prices.

But when you put a $9 Steuben's cocktail made by the great Layman Brothers up next to a $9 Grey Goose and Soda at any number of downtown bars, I believe you'll understand the value of a great drink made by a professional.

Figs cost money. Turkey costs money. Carpano Antica ain't cheap either. And the skill to know what the hell to do with all that? Priceless.

Mantonat
Mantonat

Several things to consider when drinking a $9 cocktail:- Did you like it?- Did you like the place you were drinking?- Can you get a cocktail of similar quality elsewhere for significantly less?- Can you afford it?

If the answers to any of those questions are "no," then remedy the problem and continue on with your life. Find a better cocktail, a better bar, a cheaper bar, or a higher paying job.

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