Did a Hotel Bar Really Tack on an “Ice Surcharge” for Your Drink?

Eye of the Flyer, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Eye of the Flyer and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyzes & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Here’s something some (or most) readers may already know — but I only recently learned.

I’ll share this cool information with you so you don’t get all hot if you see it the next time you pay a bar tab, particularly in a hotel. (Because that’s really the only place I’ve encountered this issue.)

Frankly, I’m embarrassed to admit this was new information to me. One of my brothers-in-law is mixologist and former bar manager. My sister used to wait tables at a restaurant that served drinks. I enjoy visiting a hotel lounge or bar every so often (for blogging or other business purposes, of course).

That’s Not Neat

Several years ago, my wife and I had dinner at The D Hotel’s Andiamo Steakhouse in Las Vegas (The restaurant is terrific and one of The D’s only redeeming qualities. But that’s another story, another time.)

I ordered the Woodford Reserve on the rocks. (What? Chris drank just one bourbon at dinner? that is shocking! No, that’s not the surprise.)

Check out the tab.

Charged for “rocks”?!

I remember thinking, Seriously? Vegas is not only hitting us with resort fees but now they charge for ice?! I mean, I know this is the desert but c’mon. I have to start ordering my drinks neat (which means “straight, without ice.”).

So, I accepted it — and felt like I got away with something any time the “rocks” wasn’t an itemized charge. (Side note: the Andiamo Meatball is fantastic.)

On a trip to New York last year, the “Rocks $” itemized charge shown up at W New York – Times Square’s Living Room lounge.

Does this receipt indicate that someone was really charged for ice in their beverage?

Are You Seriously Being Charged for Ice?

So what’s the scoop?

It turns out nothing nefarious is going on (hopefully). Scott Roeben (aka Vital Vegas) explained:

When a customer orders liquor on the rocks, it’s standard to pour an extra half-ounce of liquor. A standard pour is 1.5 ounces, but drinks on the rocks contain two ounces.

The $3 charge, then, is for the additional liquor, not the ice. A common term for the additional charge is a “rocks bump.”

Apparently, one of the motivations for this practice is 1.5 ounces of liquor doesn’t look like very much alcohol when poured into a rocks glass. Those in the bartending field say customers who order drinks on the rocks are well aware they’ll get a larger pour, and customers tend to feel they’re actually getting a decent deal because they’re getting a third more hook for a nominal charge .

Indeed, look at this neat standard pour from Bellagio.

A standard pour of Knob Creek bourbon at Bellagio's lobby bar.

The bourbon on the rocks at the top of the post looks a little sexier, doesn’t it?

Twitter user @John_Nissan notes, “rocks could mean a number of things depending on the POS, could mean a double, Cadillac marg, or a shot added to a corona.” (POS is an abbreviation for “point of sale.” Think a cash register, computer screen where an employee enters your order, etc.)

Looks like I need to buy Vital Vegas a drink on the rocks!

You’re Not Getting Charged Anything Additional For Ice

Sip your drink and relax. The “rocks bump” or “rocks pour” seems to be a hospitality industry standard. It’s an extra half-ounce (at least, in most cases?) of liquor added to drinks served with ice. You’re not paying extra for ice.

Not yet.

Eye of the Flyer, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Eye of the Flyer and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyzes & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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