The Illusion of Price

Here’s a short story for you:

The other night I had a group of lads come into my bar. They ordered their drinks one by one. Please, thank you’s and pleasantries all round. Everything was going smoothly. Now comes the turn of the last guy; he’s had a couple of minutes to study the bar and a quick glance would tell him we have no draught. Nevertheless he confidently asks for a pint of stella and turns around to his mates before I can explain his predicament.

After waiting patiently for him to turn back around I begin the sentence “sorry mate, we don’t have anything on draught” but I am cut off at the “don’t” part and he interrupts with “pint of bud then.” Before he can turn around to carry on his chat and waste my time, I loudly state we have no draught at all. He’s bemused. A bar with no draught? Looking at his mates with an expression suggesting “why the hell would we come to a place where they don’t keep their fermented liquid in bulk and pulled through dirty pipes?” He gives in and orders a Malibu and coke.

We don’t serve Malibu, we have Koko Kanu. Now I’m not a fan of liquid coconut poison (I’m not saying it’s that bad, but alcohol literally is poisonous) but I’m told Koko Kanu isn’t too different. I would usually explain the fact I didn’t have his chosen product but have something similar, however everything leading up to this point suggests he’s not too fussed and wants to get back to his conversation.

“WOAH WOAH! That isn’t what I ordered”

I politely (as possible) explain the similarities. I invite him to try it and if he doesn’t like it I can easily make him something else. He takes a tiny sip, and spits it back into the glass like I’ve attempted to poison him with liquid shit.

Quick side note: his mates gather round and try to calm him down, they apologise to me for his behaviour. I appreciate these guys. Rather than jumping on the “shout at the bartender” wagon: they realise their friend is being a bit of a dick.

“Don’t rip me off with that cheap shit, I’m not drinking that.”

If he didn’t like it, that’s fine. His reaction was over the top but his taste is his own so I’ll happily switch his drink as previously offered. Before I do though, I want to make it clear I’m not ripping him off.

“It’s not the cheap stuff, if you had the two next to each other at Tesco then Koko Kanu would be more expensive.”

This was meant as a throw away comment and I didn’t expect a response. I waited for his next drink order. Instead he thought about what I’d said. I could see him mouthing, “more expensive in Tesco?” As his gaze returned to the drink.

He took another sip. His friends look at me, confused as to what I’d said to make him try something he so clearly hated mere seconds earlier.

“Yeah…Yeah it is good isn’t it? I’ll have this mate, cheers.”

They stayed in the bar for a few more rounds and each time he asked for the “expensive Malibu.” The first time I tried to explain that it is a completely different product but he was having none of it. The fact it was more expensive (on the Tesco shelf in my mind) was all he needed to know.

Pictured - The shelves of my mind. IMG:Flikr|Verity Woolf
The shelves of my mind. IMG:Flikr|Verity Woolf

That was a one off situation but it’s not a one off thought process. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. Don’t let the price of something impact on your opinion so easily.

I often get people asking for the most expensive vodka/whisky/brandy/whatever and often don’t want to know what it is I’m pouring. They just pay over the odds and loudly tell their friends/date/who ever is near by that they bought something expensive. It isn’t uncommon for them to have it with “coke, no ice” so they’re paying a small fortune for a slightly intoxicating glass of coke, but they walk off in the belief that they have the best possible drink because it cost the most.

Come and ask for the best spirit, or ask for my favourite. You’re inviting conversation and we love that (most of us do.) I’ll happily talk to you at length about the different whiskeys and their flavours to find the right one for you.

Put it this way: would  you walk into a shop and make a B line for the most expensive shirt? What if it didn’t fit? What if it’s the wrong colour or it makes your bum look big? By all means if that’s what you want then get it, but why not try some others on first?

I know a lot a bartenders and, as professional drinkers we know what we like. I can’t think of one person who enjoys the highest price spirit in its category more than any other spirit just because of the prestige.

Test the waters, you might find something that blows your mind for £15 a bottle. How much you enjoy something is completely up to you. *Bonus if it’s cheap*  You’ll always be first pick for the office secret santa too.

Unless Phil picks you first. He's a tosser. IMG:flikr|George Reyes
Unless Phil picks you first. He’s a tosser.
IMG:flikr|George Reyes

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Main Img: flikr | Howard Lake

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ed says:


    I’ve spent many a long night explaining the benefits of Koko Kanu to punters, the winning line “its twice the strength” normally works!!!

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