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Banging the Guest, or "about that $3,750 bottle"

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According to the guest, he asked for "something decent"; according to the casino, he asked for "the best". There's no audio in the surveillance cameras so it's impossible to know. In any case, would a good somm consider a 2011 cab-sav to be "the best"?

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Elisa Ung of the Bergen Record has a short survey article about the guest who ordered a $3,750 bottle of wine, and then disputed the cost. The professionals and restaurant owners weigh in.   Several

thought this was about Sneak cooking for one of his dates.

But seriously, anyone familiar with wine service knows that if you ask for "the best", most Somms will start by pointing you to something mid-list and then asking if that's appropriate or some such. Unless you're dealing with a known whale, I can't imagine how it could ever be appropriate to start with a $3750 wine recommendation. (And if the guy said "yes", it should have been triple-checked. And the Somm should NEVER EVER have stated the prices as "thirty-seven fifty" (if in fact she did).)

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When I was in steakhouse hell on Long Island, one of he owners of 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown came in for dinner the Thursday before the Belmont. 8 people. They ordered 4 seafood towers. 7 REAL A5 Kobe sirloins. 1 48 day aged rib steak and everyone had a 2 pound lobster. Damn near close to every side we sold. 2 Rounds of Johnny Blue (this was right on the forefront of the artisanal bourbon boom, so it was the most expensive we had). Dessert, espresso, etc.


They also drank our entire stock of 2002 Screaming Eagle--which was 5 bottles. $3,950 a piece.


Now, we knew who he was. He made it PERFECTLY clear who he was. One of his guests--a 5'11" brunette straight out of central casting--said to our somm,"Screaming Eagle goes good with steak, right?" lol...my guy was like, "well, yes, but I can certainly make other suggestions that would be equally delicious FOR A PARTY OF THIS SIZE." In other words, I don't want you to shit your pants when 8 people drink $20k worth of wine. She said, "don't be silly...we'll go with that."


OK, so long story short...we comped close to HALF the food, with the idea that $22,000 worth of wine and booze would be a nice night on a random Thursday in the summer.


When the bill was dropped, the guy paying, nearly shat himself. He IMMEDIATELY called for the GM. They both left the table AND HE NEGOTIATED the price of the wine. We gave away $1,000 worth of Kobe beef and 16 pounds worth of lobsters and this guy was incrementally negotiating $4,000 bottles, 50 bucks at a time.


Point being, you can never be too careful--on either side of the transaction. We were a steakhouse and were obviously robbing everyone on wine at every price point. That said, I think they ended paying about 15% over cost. Which, when coupled with all the food we gave them, made that slow night in Thursday not look quite as good.


And any server who quotes a 4 figure bottle as "Thirty Seven Fifty" needs to get this treatment. (NSFW...lol)



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this topic struck a chord and brought me out of retirement. haha


Did you have the pleasure of Rick Dutrow's presence at the dinner?


no. lol


If memory serves, they were discussing the details of selling some of the rights to the hedge fund company that was trying to make that a viable model at the time.


We had a private room that many of the north shore of Long Island power brokers would use to do business. Mike Francessa used to come in all the time and use the same room. lol. Big Mike doesn't drink and likes his lamb chops well done. hahah

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