By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
What can be said about bottle service, that let-them-eat-cake trend of requiring bar patrons to purchase a marked up bottle of booze to secure a table or booth? It's great if you've got that mother wad of cash and a bevy of babes to spend it on, unfortunate if you're the rest of us plebes with just 10 bucks in your pocket and nowhere to sit.
The man who claims responsibility for it all is David Sarner, club mogul and former owner of Chaos and Spy Bar, who saw bottle service as a swift remedy to overcrowded bars and waitresses struggling to make their way through. Sarner takes his controversial idea a step further this month with the creation of the "Spirit Tree" at his Meatpacking District nightspot, Pink Elephant Club. While regular bottle service usually entails just one spirit and standard mixers like Red Bull, orange juice, and cranberry juice, the three different types of Spirit Trees will offer a variety of 50ml bottles of liqueur, a cocktail recipe booklet, and a bartender's shaker, gratis. The Martini Tree comes with a vodka of your choice and a stand which includes Cointreau, Chambord, Vermouth, Apple Puckers, and Watermelon Puckers; the Margarita Tree has mixers like Drambuie and Midori; the Champagne Tree offers a peach liqueur and other champagne complements.
Seems like a cute take on a proven moneymaker, but it begs the question: At this point, wouldn't it just behoove you to ask the well-trained guy behind the bar to mix you a drink instead? Isn't that part of the reason we go to a bar? Or else we'd all just be at home in our jammies, mixing up Chambord cocktails and watching Full House.
We can only counter that there is a certain status attached to having a veritable minibar carted up to your table. And the Spirit Tree will no doubt find a receptive clientele among those with a Puff Daddy need to outdo the Joneses. With bottles starting at $250 and up, you would need a Justin Timberlake-style cash flow to swing that Watermelon Puckers.