Deconstructing the $13 Cocktail

Ever wondered why that craft cocktail you’re drinking costs $13 or more? A lot goes into making a good drink, including quality spirits, fresh fruits, juices and herbs and an array of house-made infusions, syrups, bitters and tinctures. Beyond the raw ingredients, there’s the prep involved in readying the bar each day — someone’s got to squeeze all those lemons. And then of course, there’s the actual work put into each shift, from shaking, stirring and muddling to serving customers, washing glasses and ringing up sales.

The below video from our pals at goes behind the scenes at Bourbon and Branch, one of San Francisco’s better cocktail bars, as the staff prepares for a typical night of service. The effort put into each drink should give some insights into why good drinks cost about as much as a decent dinner entree.

Of course, the bar must achieve a balance. As patrons, we’re just going to a bar and drinking a cocktail. Wait too long for a drink, and your experience is diluted. But still, knowing what goes into each cocktail — from effort to ingredients — might give you pause the next time you quaff a time-intensive Ramos Gin Fizz in under a minute.

For more, check out | Behind the Drink.

Written by Kevin Gray


  1. Boozehound · August 10, 2011

    $13 isn’t too bad. Here in NYC, most good cocktails are $14-18. Of course, go to a club and they’ll charge that for a crappy vodka tonic…

  2. Nate · August 11, 2011

    Uh, okay.. not sure where I’ve been, but I had no idea bars like this even existed.. not like I want to pay 13 for a drink, but this makes me feel dumb for always ordering jack and coke lol!

  3. Cherie in SF · August 12, 2011

    B&B is my favorite bar ever. Rickhouse-by the same guys-is also awesome if you haven’t been. Hooray for SF cocktailing!

  4. Joel · August 14, 2011

    Who drinks a Ramos Gin Fizz in under a minute?

  5. Cocktail Enthusiast · August 15, 2011

    Joel – hopefully no one. Just making a point.

  6. Joel · August 15, 2011

    Gotcha. I was impressed and appalled at the thought of someone doing that.

  7. sonhui · August 30, 2011

    I can justify spending $13 if the bar isn’t crowded and I can actually sit and enjoy my drink. $13 to yell across a crowded bar where invariably a sloppy bar patron whacks you in way that you lose half your drink-not worth it.

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