Author Topic: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks  (Read 7525 times)

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Allyson

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #30 on: March 01, 2012, 02:06:22 AM »
I don't think it matters *too* much what your normal meal would be, in most cases.  If normally you wouldn't have wine but decide to this time, I don't think that's ruder than if you have wine with every dinner out. I think that if your hosts are aware of your normal patterns and you go far outside of them, you're going to get looked at askance, though. But if two people order the same thing, I wouldn't say one was rude and one wasn't because of what they'd normally eat, if they were paying.

But I've never actually been to a hosted dinner at a restaurant, and the only time I was at a wedding like that I was too young to really appreciate it (16 but an immature 16 in some ways). If that were to happen to me I'd probably try to order something that seemed 'safe' and not obviously trying not to have a lot (like a side salad) or something that 'sounds' expensive (like lobster). Chicken, chicken is always safe, right?

blarg314

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #31 on: March 01, 2012, 09:06:50 PM »
I don't think it matters *too* much what your normal meal would be, in most cases.  If normally you wouldn't have wine but decide to this time, I don't think that's ruder than if you have wine with every dinner out. I think that if your hosts are aware of your normal patterns and you go far outside of them, you're going to get looked at askance, though.

That's a good point. In most cases, your usual ordering habits are less important than ordering politely. If you're a college student who normal gets salad and water, and a relative takes you out for dinner, ordering the pasta and a coke is not a problem. But just because you normally splurge yourself, and get caviar appetizers, lobster and steak, an expensive bottle of wine, top end Scotch, etc. doesn't mean that you order the same when being taken out by friends, unless they do so first.

However, as Allyson said, if you have a situation where you and friends go out together, paying for yourselves, and you normally get pasta, a glass of wine and a salad, and the one time they say it's their treat, you upscale to top end liquour and the lobster, it's pretty obvious you're taking advantage of them.


jpcher

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2012, 06:35:09 PM »
I have tried to google this and have not been able to find it addressed.  When one is invited to a hosted event, is it rude to "upscale" your normal food/drink choices?  I am trying to get opinions on this, to see if there is any regional differences or generational differences, or possibly there will be a consensus.

(snip)

Does your answer change if the event is hosted by a company or corporation?  Or if the hosts know your personal tastes in food and how much/what you normally drink?


I do think there is a huge variance in the term "hosted event" when you are given an open menu with prices listed. Event, to me, says that it's something more than just a casual get-together with friends. A special occasion. Where the host is planning on spending more than usual.


1. If, by event, you mean a social dinner out with a few friends? I would stick with my usual price range. I wouldn't order the most expensive thing just because it's on someone else's dime. Same with drinks . . . order what you would if you were paying the tab.


2. If, by event, you mean a special celebratory occasion (bday, graduation, anniversary) with a larger group of friends? I would hope that the host wouldn't mind if you upscaled your order just a touch. Still not ordering the most expensive thing. With drinks? I think it would be fine if you ordered one or two off the top-shelf, certainly not 5. Keep an eye on how your host is drinking then follow suit . . . If host orders 5? then go for it.


3. If, by event, you mean a corporate business lunch/dinner? Stick with the #1 above. Do not order alcohol.


4. If, by event, you mean a corporate celebratory dinner? If it's something like a "Thank You to the Team" type of dinner? I say order what you want. This is probably the only time that I would order the lobster/priciest dish simply because I felt that I earned it. And no, I did not feel guilty for ordering top-shelf alcohol. That was a wonderful meal.

But don't do what ex-boss did . . . he ordered 5 appetizers, offered to share, but there were other apps going around. Then he actually ordered two entrees and offered to share. THEN! he asked for the extras to be wrapped and he brought them home with him. :: Yeah, don't do that.

5. If you are presented a menu with no prices listed, feel free to order anything off of that menu.



Sorry if I got long-winded, but I do believe what/how you order depends on the type of event and who is hosting.

Sharnita

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #33 on: March 03, 2012, 09:53:46 AM »
I know of a individual in a wedding who was heard to order " a double of your most expensive vodka" at the bar.  This individual didn't ask for a brand that happened to be the most expensive but rather the most expensive vodka, whatever that happened to be.  A relative of the host heard this person order and was not impressed that they were apparently going for the most costly just because they could.  If they had been attached to a certain brand that would have been different.

cocacola35

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #34 on: March 03, 2012, 11:04:19 AM »
I was also taught that if someone else is paying, it is rude to go for the most expensive things on the menu unless cued by the hosts.  It just looks like you are taking advantage of their hospitality.  In those situations I always go for something in the middle or less.  This is the rule I followed with hosted dinners and when I knew my date was paying for the meal.  I've never been to a wedding with an open bar, but I would still apply the same "middle of the road" practice.
 
Now if there is a set menu and lobster or an expensive wine happens to be on it, I would say go for it.  The hosts are choosing to offer it and assumed that people would order it. 

shhh its me

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #35 on: March 03, 2012, 04:09:38 PM »
I was also taught that if someone else is paying, it is rude to go for the most expensive things on the menu unless cued by the hosts.  It just looks like you are taking advantage of their hospitality.  In those situations I always go for something in the middle or less.  This is the rule I followed with hosted dinners and when I knew my date was paying for the meal.  I've never been to a wedding with an open bar, but I would still apply the same "middle of the road" practice.
 
Now if there is a set menu and lobster or an expensive wine happens to be on it, I would say go for it.  The hosts are choosing to offer it and assumed that people would order it.

At an open bar for a wedding I expect people to order the most expensive, becasue of how it's billed.  I would be paying per head , say $13.00-25.00 ish per person with a $3-5 up charge to serve the better liquors.  If vodak cost  more then rum  and everyone drinks rum  I don't pay less and I don't pay more if everyone drinks vodak. If everyone drinks orange juice I'm paying the same price(in this case they just wouldn't offer the house brand drink.) There are different types of open bars , in a resturant not banquette setting I might paying for each drink ala cart.

Sharnita

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #36 on: March 03, 2012, 04:57:55 PM »
I was also taught that if someone else is paying, it is rude to go for the most expensive things on the menu unless cued by the hosts.  It just looks like you are taking advantage of their hospitality.  In those situations I always go for something in the middle or less.  This is the rule I followed with hosted dinners and when I knew my date was paying for the meal.  I've never been to a wedding with an open bar, but I would still apply the same "middle of the road" practice.
 
Now if there is a set menu and lobster or an expensive wine happens to be on it, I would say go for it.  The hosts are choosing to offer it and assumed that people would order it.


Actually, that is one way it is billed.  Not all open bars are billed that way.  The one I mentioned wasn't.  I believe the hosts were billed by the bottle opened. So a a guest requesting a more expensive drink would lead to anotehr, more expensive bottle being opened and higher costs for the hosts.
At an open bar for a wedding I expect people to order the most expensive, becasue of how it's billed.  I would be paying per head , say $13.00-25.00 ish per person with a $3-5 up charge to serve the better liquors.  If vodak cost  more then rum  and everyone drinks rum  I don't pay less and I don't pay more if everyone drinks vodak. If everyone drinks orange juice I'm paying the same price(in this case they just wouldn't offer the house brand drink.) There are different types of open bars , in a resturant not banquette setting I might paying for each drink ala cart.

SisJackson

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #37 on: March 03, 2012, 05:13:26 PM »
Not all open bars are billed that way.  The one I mentioned wasn't.  I believe the hosts were billed by the bottle opened. So a a guest requesting a more expensive drink would lead to anotehr, more expensive bottle being opened and higher costs for the hosts.

I've been offered both ways to set up an open bar when we hold events - and every time we are given the option of allowing top-shelf liquors to be poured on our dime or not.  A lot of times we have drink-ticket events, where we offer two tickets per attendee, and we stipulate that the drink tickets can only be used on beer, wine and well drinks made with mid-range liquor or lower.  If we are having a patron's dinner, we will allow for the really good stuff to be served on us, but if we pay by the open bottle we budget for every guest to be drinking top shelf - that way when we budget for all 200 guests to drink Grey Goose or Maker's Mark and fewer than that actually do, we don't get a nasty surprise in the final bill.

cheyne

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #38 on: March 03, 2012, 06:09:32 PM »
Thank you to everyone who replied.  I appreciate your insights and comments.  I did have an ulterior motive for asking, my DS is engaged and he and his DF are beginning wedding planning. 

The area where the Bride grew up (and we lived for 14 years) has very, well, rigid ideas about what constitutes a "proper" wedding.  I have been asked by the HC to help plan the wedding, as they both know how I feel about etiquette and they wants things done right.  (I suppose my wedding expense contribution didn't hurt either!) 

For one example:

One of the "traditions" in the area is a cash bar (95% or more of weddings have this).  The wedding guests buy all of their own drinks including pop and water.  Sometimes a keg of beer is purchased from the venue, set up in a barrel of ice, plastic "frat party" glasses next to it and guests serve themselves (no I am not kidding).  If someone does want to have a hosted bar, the drinks are rung-up in the register and the host pays the total at the end.  This is the only way the venues will do it, as so few people have hosted bars they don't have a "per person" alcohol fee.  This leads to guests ordering "top shelf" liquor, shots, martini's and all manner of drinks that they wouldn't normally order if they were paying.  (Hence the question about normally drinking rail booze but upscaling to top shelf on someone's dime).  Even the amount of half-full pop cans is staggering.  No one watches how much pop the kids are drinking since they are not paying for it and each one of those pop cans is charged to the hosts.

It was my understanding that East Coast and especially New York weddings can be extremely lavish with full open bars and several course meals.  I guess the expression would be "Go Big or Go Home"?    >:D  Thanks to the New Yorkers for confirming what I have read/been told.

Thank you all for your food for thought.  I am sure I will be posting in the Wedding Etiquette folder soon.   ;D


shhh its me

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #39 on: March 03, 2012, 06:45:25 PM »
  Can we ask the general area?  I'm my are for example you can rent a VFW hall (is that the right acronym?) or similar location stock it yourself and hire a bartender.  If it's the know in the area people will go nuts at an open bar and there is no way to control the cost....... what we would do wont matter, if you have an "no holds barred " bar the bill may be enormous.

SisJackson

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #40 on: March 03, 2012, 07:14:25 PM »
With something like this, you are perfectly fine to request exactly what the bar will stock and what they will not.  If they balk, then don't hire them.  One of the latest trends is to serve a beer, one kind of white wine, one kind of red wine, maybe a white Zinfandel for those who like the pink stuff, and a single, signature cocktail for those who prefer spirits.  This sort of arrangement can keep costs down as well as keep your "upscalers" under a semblance of control.

It may be that wedding vendors do things differently than "regular" event vendors (or have different policies for weddings, in order to maximize profits) but there are ways to provide adult beverages to your guests that don't involve breaking the bank.

For my own wedding reception (over 20 years ago, mind) my fiancÚ and I started buying the wine we wanted to serve when we'd see it on sale starting 18 months before the wedding, figuring on about half a bottle per guest.  By the time the date came we had plenty.  We also got a pony keg from a local distributor.  Then we just hired a bartender service and paid a bottle charge for what was opened from them (liquor - but nothing top-shelf) and paid per hour for the servers to pour everything.  Nowadays I'd just go the signature cocktail route.

WillyNilly

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2012, 02:10:06 PM »
It was my understanding that East Coast and especially New York weddings can be extremely lavish with full open bars and several course meals.  I guess the expression would be "Go Big or Go Home"?    >:D  Thanks to the New Yorkers for confirming what I have read/been told.


Yup.  Go Big or go home is actually an unspoken theme to planning my New York wedding.  From my catering to open bar, it all about lavishing upon my guests.  I'm saving on things like using two amateur photographers and no video, doing my own flowers, no extra decor, budget dress, DIY invites, I'm teaching myself calligraphy, etc.  I would rather not have a wedding at all then have a cash bar.  But really, a lot of that is to do with being a New Yorker, its simply how its done here and what I grew up with and what my guests are used to.  A cash bar would go over like a lead balloon because guests simply don't bring money with them because no one has cash bars.  I do understand cash bars are the norm elsewhere, its just not done here (I would object to no free water though, to me that would be a hill to die on I would straight up leave a reception without even free water).  I have literally never known - not even friend of friend kinda thing - of a cash bar at a NY-metro area wedding. 

But that said, its not always an all-inclusive top-shelf open bar.  Limited bar is quite common.  Just beer and soft drinks, or just wine and soft drinks is not unusual.  Heck no alcohol and just juices and soft drinks is less common but not unheard of (I heard of a brunch wedding with no alcohol but a coffee bar with all sorts of fancy coffee options).  And that beer and/or wine can be limited to one brand - and yes it can be $5 bottles of wine and regular old lager beer served in pitchers.  Sometimes if there are cocktails its just one or two types (generally referred to as having a "signature drink").  And certainly even with a wide range open bar, its not uncommon for there to be no "top shelf" alcohol - Smirnoff or heck even Georgi is good enough, no need for Ketel One or whatever fancy brand is "in" at the moment.  And yeah I've even been to a keg in the yard, kiddie pool filled with cans of soda & ice wedding.

And I think a key thing is, as I said earlier in the thread, as much as open bar is the norm in NY, so too is the notion of being a gracious guest.  Enjoy whats offered - fully - but not gratuitously.  People don't waste half their soda or if they are ordering a drink they don't normally get they might ask for just a taste to try it, not a whole glass.  Because everyone does the open bar thing, everyone is mindful of the golden rule thing - no one would want guests at their parties being wasteful, so guest try to not be wasteful when being hosted.  Plus since open bars are the norm there's no sense of urgency ("oh my gosh I'll never have this opportunity to try XXXX again!") because it'll be open next time too, and the time after that, and after that, etc.  So I can see how when open bar isn't the norm, there aren't established unspoken rules already set in a person's mind.

TootsNYC

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #42 on: March 09, 2012, 06:23:21 PM »
Yeah, I've never known of people who got deliberately trashed because someone else was paying for it. It might just be that I don't know all that many people who get deliberately trashed *period*.

Of course, that may not be regional at all, and only be because I, and my family, have distanced ourselves from those people (so that even if they do exist in the family, and we do invite them, we just deliberately don't notice them much)

But I think that NYers drink enough as a general course of events that they don't see the big appeal of drinking a lot, and expensively, just because it's at a wedding.

Decimus

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2012, 03:42:44 PM »
Another New Yorker here...

Open bars (or at least open limited bars) are common and I've never seen anyone go hog-wild just because they could.  I usually won't drink alcohol; at an open bar I might have a single alcoholic beverage (of the generic "rum and coke" sort, not a named liquer).  With food, it depends.  If it's something like my mother taking me out for my birthday or Christmas dinner, I might go upscale a little and get something like steak and a lobster tail (for an additional $12) instead of just the steak.  But that's because I know my mother won't mind.  At a broader event -- where a friend was treating me, say -- I'd get what I'd usually buy.

If people in your area are known to abuse good hospitality, I'd say plan for a dinner where there is only one or two options for food and a limited sort of drinks.  Maybe you can provide X number of soda pop cans and Y beers (enough for everyone if they act reasonably) and when they're gone, they're gone...?

Teenyweeny

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Re: "Upscaling" Hosted Dinners and Drinks
« Reply #44 on: March 26, 2012, 08:04:04 AM »
I was always taught to order from the middle of the menu: not anything too expensive, because you look greedy, and not the very cheapest thing (unless it's what you would genuinely choose), because then you make people feel uncomfortable about treating you.

Ideally, the host should say 'the chicken looks good, I think I'll have that', and then you know what sort of price point to aim for. Also (in my experience), the host will generally suggest ordering a few bottles of wine for the table. If they don't, I'll go with what the host is having.

At events with open bars, I would only order my usual tipple, and definitely *not* go for the pricier rum, or top shelf vodka. I'd probably get a few *more* drinks than I would usually, since open bars are found at parties, where (at least in the UK) people do tend to drink more heavily.