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Ice surcharge


Two weeks before writing this sentence, I paid $18 for a glass of Jameson. Or rather, I paid $15 for Irish whiskey and $3 for ice.

At the time, I didn’t give it much thought. I was at a nightclub on the Boulevard, on a Saturday night, visiting old friends, letting my local social consciousness take the night off to dance like a tourist and, by all witness recollection, act the fool. It wasn’t until the following afternoon that I looked at the receipts in my pocket and sharply exclaimed, “What in the shit?”

Unless I’m working, I seldom visit nightclubs. And when I do, I don’t even approach the bar, knowing clubs on the Strip gut their customers like drunken walleye. After all, most club customers are weekend warriors, coming to town after saving up scratch, understanding they’re going to blow it all on Hummer limos and girls in dresses and all the expenses that come with both. So I knew the charge would come from somewhere.

Seeing it itemized — “1 Rocks, $3.00” — was almost like the club calling me a sucker. Never mind that it was for an additional half-ounce pour, as a rep over at The Light Group would tell me later. “1 More Booze, $3.00” makes sense. But seeing a charge for ice in a glass is like buying a car and getting charged $500 for uncracked windows.

An hour before writing this sentence, a bartender friend told me the extra charge is common practice in some spots. Sierra Gold, an upscale PT’s, charges an extra buck-fifty to put Jameson (usually $7.25) over rocks. But a bartender at Vanguard Lounge, even during his time at a Light Group property a couple years ago, never heard of getting charged for ice. It might be a sign of the times. Or a sign that splurgers won’t pay any attention to the bill when they go out. Making an extra buck on half an ounce of booze, even if the patron neither asks for it nor needs it, probably comes out as a chunk of extra scratch at the end of the month. Maybe it’s covert capitalism. Or maybe it’s just a ripoff.