Last Updated:
January 6, 2023

What's the difference between bottle service and table service

Bottle service is all about getting the VIP treatment. Here's a look at what sets it apart from regular table service.
What's the difference between bottle service and table service
By
Bogdan Patynski
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When it comes to alcoholic drinks at a nightclub, you have two choices: bottle service or table service. You might mistake one for the other, but there is a big distinction between the two. So what exactly is that difference? And which option should you pick? It depends on what kind of experience you're looking for.

In this article, we'll give you all the information you need to know about bottle service and table service. Keep reading to learn more!

Bottle Service vs. Table Service

Despite being used together often, "table service" and "bottle service" mean two entirely different things in the bar and nightclub industry.

When a customer chooses table service at a restaurant, the server writes down the order and sends it to the kitchen. The waitstaff serves the food to the customer at the table once it is ready. Basically, anything that doesn't involve counter-service or self-service falls under this service. However, keep in mind that this type of dining requires more restaurant labor when setting up and cleaning up tables, as well as preparing food.

On the other hand, the "bottle service" typically involves more than just ordering liquors; it's an all-encompassing package that includes everything from mixers, garnishes, ice, glasses, and napkins - to a full bottle of liquor. 

When you order bottle service at a club, you're definitely opting for the luxury experience. In many cases, this includes access to VIP service and a great view and a nicer seating area that affords more privacy. The slightly higher price is due to the extra amenities for the guests.

If you want to avoid waiting in line like everyone else at the club, book a spot in advance. This way, you'll get access to an area that's usually off-limits to the general public.

When you book a spot with these types of nightclubs or bars, not only do you get access to luxurious alcoholic beverages, but also an abundance of top-shelf liquors, mixers, and even a personal staff member who will take care of the bartending for you!

The Origins of Bottle Service

The term "bottle service" is new, only coined around 2006. However, the concept can be traced the back to early 1940s in Japan when people would buy a table and receive a complimentary bottle of sake. The first modern instance occurred in 1988 at the Paris nightclub Les Bains Douches.

In 2001, bottle service was all the rage at nightclubs like Pangaea, Bungalow 8, and Lotus. A bottle of Grey Goose could go for as much as $500. Today, you can find bottle service nearly everywhere. But it’s most popular in major travel destinations. According to Supercall, the most popular places for bottle service right now are Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, and New York.

How to Get Bottle Service

The best way to purchase bottle service is to book early and be prepared to spend a little extra. Bottle service can make your night out special, so it's worth considering if you're looking for a VIP experience. Here are some tips on how to get the most from your bottle service: 

Book early

Many clubs require that you reserve bottle service in advance, so plan ahead if you want to guarantee to get a spot for a perfect night out. 

Even if a club doesn't have bottle service listed, it doesn't mean that they don't offer it. Most clubs with bottle service list their prices and contact information on their website. You can also search and book through a third-party app or try and haggle with the establishment directly. However, make sure to do your research so you know what you're getting into when talking to these types of clubs.

Be willing to spend

There is typically a minimum spending requirement, so be prepared to pay the full amount. There is also usually an added tax, so factor that into your budget ahead of time as well. Additionally, servers are often required to receive tips, so make sure you tip them generously for their services.

Know what you're getting

Each restaurant, bar, or club has different policies about limited things like table location and drink selection, so do your research before making any commitments. 

Dress the part

Most clubs have dress codes for those using their VIP services, so make sure you've dressed appropriately or risk being turned away at the door.

What types of drinks are served in a bottled service?

Bottle service typically includes top-shelf liquors like vodka, rum, whiskey, brandy, champagne, and tequila. Popular brands of vodka include Belvedere, Ketel One, Grey Goose, and Absolut. Quality vodkas from the United States or France are usually used for mixed cocktails or served straight up in a martini glass.

Premium brands of rum include Bacardi, Captain Morgan, and Cruzan. For whiskey, bottles such as Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker Black Label are popular choices. It also includes mixers such as cranberry juice, orange juice, tonic water, club soda or soda water, cola, ginger ale, and various fruit juices. Garnishes like cherries, olives, and limes are also served.

Energy drinks like red bull, coconut water, and non-alcoholic cocktails like Shirley Temples are also available. The choice of drinks will depend on the nightclub or lounge, so it’s best to ask the server what’s included in their menu.

Bottle service includes

Here's a list of details of what you can expect when getting VIP treatment:

  • Private areas with luxurious seating
  • Access to VIP tables or booths
  • Premium cocktails and top-shelf liquors and spirits
  • Personal waitstaff to serve for the duration of your visit
  • An array of mixers, garnishes, ice, glasses, and napkins

Keep in mind the following things when making reservations for bottle service. Even though you have a reservation, it doesn't secure you a spot on the dancefloor next to the DJ booth or an amazing night out. You may need to compete for space with other guests in your area because of how popular it is.

Attendees

If a big name is performing or hosting at the nightclub, bar, or lounge on a special occasion, expect to spend more money in order to get the best experience possible. Make sure to check who's attending the club before booking so you don't end up surprised by how much things cost.

Time of Visit

The minimum spending amounts for a table usually change depending on the day of the week and how close the table is to main events. Weekend nights naturally have higher prices, but even during the week, tables that are closer to where people are dancing or mingling cost more.

Markups

Some nightclubs may charge a markup on their bottles, but this is not always the case. If you want a bottle of liquor at a club, be prepared to pay approximately double the price for a single bottle. Even though buying 'bottle service' doesn't result in more significant sales of alcohol, it does give off an atmosphere of luxury and exclusive treatment for guests. Make sure to check with the club first before booking to find out if they are charging a markup or not.

The Appearance

Bottle service is a popular but pricey way to drink alcohol, so it makes more financial sense to go up to the bar and purchase liquor and shots as you go. Alternatively, if you have a big group of friends who are willing to split the price of the bottle, at least you can use the minimum spend amount as a baseline for how much each person will owe at the end.

Just take into account to factor in tax and tip when getting a quote for a table. It'll prevent you from being unpleasantly surprised by the final cost.

Is purchasing bottle service worth the money?

As great as it sounds, this type of service doesn't come cheap. The cost often varies depending on the location and popularity of the nightclubs or lounges.

The cost of bottle service is calculated using the minimum spending amounts, which is how much each table spends on alcohol sales while at the club. Minimum spending varies depending on a few factors.

Is it Profitable for a Bar Owner to Offer Bottle Service?

Offering bottle service to your clients is a great way to boost your nightclub's revenue. It creates an air of exclusivity and encourages patrons and guests to stay longer, resulting in higher alcohol sales and increased profits for your business. This is also typically popular with celebrities, so it can help draw more A-list guests to your establishment.

However, if you’re not careful, this can also hurt your business. There are some risks involved, such as the possibility of alienating other patrons who don't have access to the VIP area or feeling excluded by those who do. Be sure to consider these factors to have a better sense before deciding if the type of offer is right for your venue.

The secret to being successful with bottle service in bar restaurants is easy: knowing your customers. By customizing the minimum spend amounts, you'll be able to appeal to and create a great deal for VIPs while not pushing away other potential guests. Keep this in mind, and best of luck!

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