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The Neat Fee

By MikeE on Wednesday, 20th August 2014 12:12pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 20


This is the era of outrageous fees and creative ways to nickel and dime patrons. After the uproar of resort fees, we ceded to the early check in, late check out, express check-in, bedding preferences, and other fees that might have potential value when the city's running on a busy weekend. But after coming to accept the nature of the game, a scotch-loving friend of mine having dinner at SW Steakhouse texted to inform me of the tackiest, chintziest fee I've ever heard of:

A $3 fee on neat pours of spirits.

It's not the money; $3 is a drop in the bucket on an SW dinner tab. And speaking of drops, yes, neat pours are generally a tiny bit more generous. But Jebus, this is Wynn. This from the resort who prides itself in empowering employees to take ownership despite minor monetary discrepancies. It's where pit bosses have returned bets, some of them big, no questions asked because I was pretty sure I had won the hand. It's perhaps the last place on the strip that'll offer you a discretionary buffet comp because you've slaved away at the table for some time.

I don't know the extent of this fee and neither did my friend who brought it to my attention. Is this Wynncore-wide? Only at SW? Or maybe at just the "finer" restaurants? And how long have they been doing this? I'd love to hear if anyone from the VT community can expound.

Clearly, the higher-ups recognized that a good number of spirit connoisseurs are patronizing SW and whether their order is a Glenlivet 12 or a Macallan 30, they can milk an extra $3 if you opt to go ice-free.

This is squeezing drops out of a dry lemon. It's filling the last of the liquid hand soap with water before breaking open a new bottle. It's incredibly ghetto.

Tagged: fees   wynn   


Comments & Discussion:

Super tacky. If they want to go the cheap route, they should just start making their bartenders measure their pours. Personally, I hate any establishment that doesn't let its bartenders free pour (it's an indicator that the place is cheaping it out in other ways that you may not see) but I'd say it's slightly less-tacky than a $3 neat charge. Atrocious.

A few years back sitting at Parasol Down (I think) drinking bourbon on the rocks there was a charge for ice. When I asked the bartender he said they only charge it to back bar stuff, not cocktails or hiballs tho. Even he was confused about it.

Ghetto is a great way to describe it. If it is killing them that badly, they should raise the prices $1 on all cocktails instead. Definitely wouldn't have to face the scrutiny of the public.

Sounds to me like someone has too much (temporary) empowerment.

Like Spyder, I've been charged for rocks in my bourbon before. (Forget where.) I was as annoyed then as you seem to be now.

This is totally GHETTO! This is something one would expect from Caesars/Harrahs, maybe/possibly MGM. At one point (and this is before the Caesar's leveraged buyout) I could have swore I read that Harrahs/Caesars utilized RFID enabled nozzles on their spirits bottles to detect/preclude bartenders from over pouring to solicit tips.

Sad that Wynn is getting so corporate.

I can see charging for ice in a drink if you're using one of those ice ball makers, which are not cheap and you waste a decent amount of ice making those balls. Of course these days, places are getting all crafty and artisan about the ice they use and even the water they use.

Charging extra for neat is just a way to squeeze some extra revenue, and doesn't seem to mesh with the sort of establishment Wynn is. Hopefully it's just the policy of that one restaurant and not a resort-wide one. Also it makes you wonder if other places elsewhere in Vegas will start doing this as well.

This charge is about as bad as the "CSF" fee a few places charge. While on a typical drink at Phumbar or Casa Fuente (two of the places well known for this charge) the fee is forty-something cents, it adds up.

How many myVegas points does it take to redeem for a 'neat pour' voucher?

@jimmybond +1

Worse yet. I hear Wynncore is considering recycling the Intimacy Kits in the hotel rooms and charging an additional fee for new ones.

You mean my Red Card won't help. Well when did it ever.

Wow, that is super tacky, among other things. So they basically want to tell all of the folks who have moneym but not VIP level money, that SW at least think's their suckers? Lame.

Of course the simple answer is to just buy you own bottle of Scotch and enjoy it in the room, with free ice and/or neat pours.

Do you know if they charge extra for a paper bag to wrap around my 40?

As someone who drinks my Oban and Balvenie neat, but also loves Encore, I think this fee is total bullshit. It strikes me as ridiculous to charge me an extra $3 for NOT requesting ice as I'm sitting in the middle of the F-ING DESERT.

The Wynn does a few things that make me hope it is on the right track back to the standards it once had and then pulls something like this.

I agree with Okie21, just raise the prices of everyhing by $1. The drinks are already expensive, $1 won't dissuade anyone from drinking there. This low class move aka ghetto move belongs somewhere like Riviera or LVH, hotels that are struggling, not of the premier resorts on The Strip.

I like your hand-soap dilution analogy; like many other people that have commented, I like whiskey. I like good Bourbon and Scotch, and drink it neat or OTR depending on the product and/or my mood. I hope that raising the public's awareness of these kind of fees and bitching about them gets some of these owners to stop and think about the PR disaster of fees like this.

To add: I quit going to Wynn and Encore since I heard that you can't get a comped drink while playing VP at their bars, so maybe my complaint is irrelevant. I still think it's BS, though....


While any add on fee is pretty crappy, i've seen this at lots of fine dining places here in the northeast.. the rational is that neat you get a 2oz pour vs a 1.5 oz pour in a mixed drink. so per oz if you are getting something decent it's less than "full price" per oz would be. I wouldn't doubt if some idiots order neat and ask for a glass of ice to dump it in just to get the extra booze when there is no upcharge.

I wondered what most of these places were going to do when they hit that point where even they realize their standard drink is far to high to raise anymore. So now we have the pleasure of paying for no ice and at other establishments that ridiculous CSR or whatever it is charge. Ridiculous is the only word to describe these charges. After all they likely realized they are losing money when the bartender is too embarrassed to serve a neat drink to the level they want it at anyway for the price they are charging

In 2010, I was having my bachelor party at Encore. A group of the guys and I went to Botero for dinner. At the end of the meal, my British friend ordered a "measure" of whiskey (scotch). He asked for it neat. At the end of the evening when the bill arrived, the price was higher than the stated price in the menu. We enquired at that time, and were informed that because he had ordered it neat, the price was higher. So it wasn't even an itemized supplement; they just simply changed the price without advertising it. Nasty.

This was the first time I had heard of anything like this. Needless to say, it is bullshit. So, they've been doing it for at least 4 years now. Looks like, for the most part, it's been flying under the radar.

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