Using a Flask

I am really cheap, and hate spending money. However, I also like to go out and have lots of fun, which generally costs $$$.

After I turned 21, I realized the sheer amount of money people waste at bars. Here in Austin, TX. we have a thriving Downtown nightlife, consisting of several streets of busy clubs and bars…needless to say there are tons of places to throw away your money.

From about 9pm till 2am, the main product being sold all over Downtown is alcohol. Clubs/bars make almost all their money from alcohol, restaurants make much of their money from alcohol and even cruise boats make much of their money from drink sales. It’s actually pretty ridiculous how much money is made from alcohol sales.

To combat these high prices (and allow me to be extremely cheap), I will sometime bring a flask out with me. This thing cost me $20, fits perfectly in my back pocket and holds roughly 5 oz. of liquor.

What I can’t stand about drinks are their extremely high margins. Liquor is ridiculously marked up almost everywhere. Another thing I begrudgingly have to do every time is tip. If someone simply opens a bottle of beer for me, does that warrant even a $1 tip?? I tip, but don’t like it. After a tip, an already expensive drink becomes even more expensive.

If I know I’m going out, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, I’ll fill the flask with a liquor of choice, for example, rum. This way I can ask the bartender for JUST a Coke with ice. I’d say about 70% of the time they’ll give it to me free. I can then secretly mix in some rum, and have a Rum & Coke.

Ghetto? You bet!

The most I’ve ever spent on a single drink was at an upscale club in Miami – $17 for a Vodka & Red Bull. Imaging my surprise when I pulled out a $10 bill to pay, but was quoted $17….and then I had to tip $3!! TWENTY DOLLARS for a small drink in a plastic cup filled mostly with ice!! OUTRAGEOUS. I can buy 20 Double Cheeseburgers from McDonalds for that money.

Another thing I do when going out is use CASH ONLY. I NNEEEVVERRR charge drinks to a card. This way you can SEE how much money you are throwing away, and I can control my spending much better this way. A $20 bill can generally cover an entire night (Generally which I end up spending mostly on Pizza :-) and leave me with some money the next day.

Blog posted on: June 16, 2006

69 comments on “Using a Flask

  1. Anonymous

    I agree, drinks are extremely overpriced, and people simply keep paying no matter how expensive they get.

    1. Pennyroll

      The more drunk you get the richer you feel, and the more you’re willing pay! What a perfect business model. My uncle, an extremely successful salesman, told me the easiest business anyone could ever open is a liquor store. They take a bottle off the shelf, you put a new one on the shelf.

  2. jim

    They’re priced at what the market will bear, it’s as simple as that. If you keep paying, they’ll keep selling, and you’re not just buying the drink… you’re buying the decor, the lights, the DJ, and the scenery. This is the same as pregaming without the added weight of a flask.

  3. me2press

    I find that sometimes you can pre- drink at home before you get to the bar. Get a little buzz going and then order just a beer no fancy drinks. You can also try a few lower end bars around the main club and see if the drinks cost less, buy a few at the lower priced bar you get to the next stop feeling good. The flask is a good idea and I have some friends that use them. The only downfall is that some bars now use metal detectors and you can get kicked out or banned.

  4. Anonymous

    So Nev, it sounds like the question at hand is — how can you profit from this? I do assume you have an idea, after all. ;)

  5. Ed

    Going out for drinks in Britain is not as over priced as in the US or some other European countries. However, the lower price tag comes with other negatives such as higher alcohol related crimes.

    The solution is simple of course: stop drinking. However that wouldn’t be fun, would it. ;-)

  6. Marco || Stock Trading

    Yes! Yet another frugal person in the world.

    But for those people who have drinks after work the extravagant cost is an investment to network with people!

  7. ken

    I met some students from Georgia several weeks during their summer program to Shanghai,China.
    They told me that many college students from America spent a lot of their time at bar at night,is that true?
    Anyway,I think that you are canny.

  8. Anonymous

    Another one of those? I cannot stand people that fork out big bucks for a drink and squirm when they have to tip. Maybe you do not realize but tips is how some make living as the hourly wages they get amount to nothing. Order one drink less and tip instead. It will do your liver some good as well.

  9. Wes

    Dear Anonymous- yes, bar/dining tipping here in America annoys me also. I feel much more comfortable in Europe where a tip is NOT expected and you can hang out at your table for as long as you want to. The waiters don’t come to your table every 3.2 minutes asking “anything else?” “are you all set?”…

    How do they do it – it’s factored into the business model.


  10. Dave P.

    Yes unfortunatley the waiters do get paid through tips….but they should be paid through the business instead.

    Nev, I try not to use cash because say you’re choice of drink that night is beer. 1 beer = $4 = $1 tip. That means you are tipping 25%. If you use a card, you can technically buy the one drink and still tip 15%….I’d feel bad leaving 60 cents on the bar if I was using cash lol.

    If I’m not doing that, then usually when I’m with a bunch of people, we’ll alternate who buys the drinks. Round 1 will go to one person, so rather than 5 people paying $1 each ($5 tip), you have maybe 1 person paying $2 tip.

  11. mapgirl

    Flasks are good. So is starting out the evening at home with your friends before hopping into a cab on your way out.

    The other thing I like about flasks is discretion, like when you’re at a public place where no liquor is allowed.

  12. Anonymous

    you are cheap son of a bitch. I hope you pull out the flask and a bounce pummels your sorry ass. Sack up and pay up. or just stay home and pretend you have a life.

  13. Raymond

    I used to work at a restaurant, and it was incredible to see how high bar tabs would go in just a single sitting. Let’s say 3 rounds of drinks for 8 people:
    $7.50 average per drink = $180 + $27 tip = $207.

  14. me

    This seems a bit slimey. Like it or not, people depend on tips, and its lame that people that are fine financially forget this.

    That and as someone mentioned, you are paying for the atomsphere, etc of a bar when paying for these drinks. I wouldnt be comfortable with myself going in there, enjoying everything, and slipping a secret drink out of my back pocket. If I didnt want to spend the money, I would stay home.

  15. me2press

    Nev on the topic of tips. When I go out in the Toronto area many washrooms now have some guy in there handing you a towel after you pee. I hate this I do not need some one handing me a towel and standing over me as I pee. It seems more and more places are doing this. Get rid of the guy in the washroom it should be banned. So now here I am need to wash my hands and then tip this guy for just giving me a paper towel.

  16. David Askaripour

    Dude…tipping is how bartenders get paid… how can you hate to fairly compensate people? I think they make something like $2-4 an hour, hence the reason for a tip.

  17. Maximus

    It saves a crapload of money, that’s what matters. My flask is on the way.

    The bigger problem here is being busted when adding flasked liquor to the bought drink or taking a swig from the flask. The bar can lose the liquor license. Bad news for everyone.

  18. Anonymous – A waiter in an Italian Bistro in NYC, for more views on tipping. The most recent post covers it, however there are other posts in the archives where he sets out his views.

    Its a very funny and interesting read.

  19. Anonymous

    You can tell a lot about people by how they treat people that they do not have to be nice to. Everyone will be nice to their boss, but how do they treat a waiter.

    Cheapskate with tips?

    That says a lot about what kind of human you are.

  20. Anonymous

    Hey Anonymous, Nev was talking about a bartender, not a waiter. Two different things.

    He was also talking about opening a beer. If the tender is making multiple fancy drinks, different story.

  21. Anonymous

    seriously neville you have no life… and if you weren’t soo money minded you’d find there was alot of other things in this world that matter much more. I used to be a fan of your site but now I read it to remind myself of one of the many types of people I don’t ever want to be.

  22. Rikin

    I used to be a big fan of your website. After this post you solidified some of my earlier thoughts that it has gone down the drain. It would be really nice to hear you not talk about how you “save” your money or all the rich haughty taughty people you meet. Your site used to focus more on ways to come up with new ideas and unique ways to make money. I truly enjoyed the water bottle experiment. But now I recommend going out and not worrying about your spending account so much and instead having some fun while you’re young. It also wouldn’t hurt to talk about some of your other interests.

  23. Cadey

    Nice idea!
    Here in Paris, France, average for an alcohol drink is $14. A glass of Coke is around $8 so it worth it! Last week I paid $28 for a Mojito in a small pub!
    Now most of the time we start having drinks at each other’s appartments, then before leaving we fill in a plastic bottle with some rhum or whiskey and juices and drink it on the way to the pub :-)
    BTW, I like your blog !

  24. Anonymous

    this blew up in your face did it not Neville? You got a little support but the majority has turned on you and now you have been exposed as the fraud you are.

  25. Anon

    Jesus, some of these commentors are harsh. You all just need to chill out or stop reading!

    Keep up the great work Nev, yours is one of the few blogs I still read.

  26. personal finance

    The best investment I made in this area were a pair of ski poles that hold liquor – if you want really overpriced drinks, look at any ski resort bar. Simply fill up the poles and I’m set for the day – nothing extra to carry around. Definitely worth the investment and pay for themselves in one or two trips.

  27. LowTipper

    Great idea. We do similar things at the movies with regular drinks and food…matinee of course.

    To the other comments, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Especially if its just going to make you jealous of his success.

    And regarding tipping, its a simple supply and demand equation. If waiters/bartenders don’t like getting paid in tips, get a different job. Or follow Nev’s lead and start your own business.

  28. Anonymous

    Most of the time if you ask for a coke they assume that you are the dedicated driver. The best is to then go to the bathroom to pull out your flask and mix in the happy juice.

    Like it or hate it, it’s thinking on your feet which most of you people who read this blog can’t do on your own. B/c if you did you would not have to follow Nev’s blog… since you all probably have no social skills to begin with. So for all those anti-socials with small tools go start your own blog then get back to your job at Burger King…. and if your lucky you might be able to advance to manager one day and get some of that hot Burger King IPO stock.


  29. Anonymous

    that’s an awesome idea!! Go to a really nice 5 star restaurant and just order water & bread!! While the waiter/waitress is away, pull your grilled chicken and your own side dishes you cheap fraud…

    You seriously think by frauding other businesses you can become successfu? What if you were the bar business owner, would you be happy if some frauding kids bring their own flask?

    I hope they catch you and charge you with fraud and for being a cheap pr1ck.

  30. CriticalEater

    Why is everyone hatin on poor Nev. Anyway, totally agree that alcohol is way overpriced and like your flask idea. Seems like it would be easy to get caught in a bar though ?

  31. Anonymous

    Looks like is a hangout for a bunch of cheap @$$ losers. Dude with the ski poles needs them shoved up his @$$. If you don’t want to pay to drink then stay home and drink. What’s next Neville. Plastic bags at a buffet so you steal food for a late date. I bet your friends or any women would be impressed by you doing that. I can’t believe so many of you have your heads so far up Nev’s @$$. What did he have for Xmas dinner?

  32. Anonymous

    For his XMAS dinner, he went to one of the homeless centers with two large tupperware containers and filled them right up! Oh yeah, he grabbed all the ‘free’ plastic forks he could get his hand on. Money business #1!

    Then he stopped by the local KFC and busted out his empty milk gallon jug and filled it up with the ice tea. Money business #2!

    Next stop was the grocery store where he scanned 10 loafs of bread while scanning his ONE coupon that gets the item for free ten times…at the self check-out isle. Money business #3!

    Amazing at the amount of money he just saved there… everyone agree???

  33. Anonymous

    How about you turn this into a post about something innovative. Like how to profit from the fact that liquor is sold at such a premimum. There are plenty of ways to save money here and there, people have filled books with them. But how about some ideas about MAKING money, that way you can afford to pay the high premimum every now and again without cheating the system.

    Just a thought.

  34. Anonymous

    Why don’t all of you low-rent haters just get off Nev? Obviously you’re obsessed if you keep reading but keep hating.

  35. Anonymous

    Let’s not forget that this Nev-looser used to collect forgotten pens on campus. How money BICs would one drink buy you? I have seen so many Nev’s uggly characteristics that I also think he is a basically a scumbag.

  36. Anonymous

    Pretty clear here that anonymous is the same guy/girl over and over again. Anyway is it that big of a deal that Nev buys a coke and adds his own liquor to it? I dont think so. There is no law against it and if someone ever caught him it is not like he would get hauled off to the pokey. He is just making a statement that drink prices are ridiculous and he has a simple solution for saving a buck or two. Big deal. If you dont like it dont read it or better yet don’t monopolise his comments section and then hid behind the anonymous tag. Loser.

  37. Anonymous

    Lower yet he goes!!! Not so long ago I thought Nev could not sink any lower. BUT HE HAS DONE IT!!!

  38. Anonymous

    While I agree that some of the comments are harsh, I do think that this is being too ‘cheap’. I dont even think it is being frugal, which to me would mean having a glass of water in between your drinks to stretch your milage.

    This post gets to circumventing the business, yet still enjoying the amenaties that the business provides. Basically getting their product for free.

    As a business owner, Nev, I would think that you would value the service and products of others that you frequent, rather than trying to cheat the system.

    I’d say, use the flask at home and in the parking lot if you must, but buy the drink when you are at the bar.

    Tipping is a funny thing. I tip 2 bucks on a drink, so the bar tender remembers me, and serves me first among the long line of people. If I have four drinks at a bar, that’s an extra 4 bucks. Hardly a dent in the pocket book ‘To Insure Proper Service’.

  39. Anonymous

    To the jerk off who said the same guy or girl is posting all the negative stuff is the same person is wrong. Hey Nev, have you tried going to a fountain and stealing all the coins out of there? Great profit margin dude!! Maybe this Christmas you can buy a bell, what is that, $5, get a red kettle, a few more bucks, and you can solicit donations for your “charity”. If I saw you do that in a bar I’d punch you in the face you gutless prick. You will get caught and I doubt your friends have any respect for you by doing this. BTW, where are you hiding? In a cave? Oh sorry, bad joke.

  40. me2press

    Nev is just putting an idea out in the open. It’s the nature of his blog. Good or bad he has the right to find ways to save money. The flask is a way for Nev to save on drinks. If it falls in a gray area then why not add ideas on how to save money and not a million reasons why Nev is cheap. In Toronto it is easy to spend over $150 on a night out so every way to save a buck is going to get my attention. People add and improve ideas do not knock them down.

  41. Rikin

    The cave thing was definitely too far. And sorry wasn’t really trying to put an I HATE NEVILLE post up. More like. The world is full of suits. You know the kind we’re talking about… the fourty year old pervert in a new york bar who works on wall street for a good salary and a crappy lifestyle. I started reading Nevblog because it reminded me of ways that we can become successful and not become one of these suits. Think outside the box. But more and more I feel like the suit is coming out in alot of us and don’t agree. And to the dipshit who said some of us work at burger king. Sometimes you gotta make ends meet or should i say Meat. And that’s fine. you can only rise up if you start down low. And being an informed individual is always best because if you only knew where some of nev’s readers work then you’d shut it and start kissing some ass.

  42. Anonymous

    I have to agree with a lot of the posters on here calling out Neville. When did you change from being an innovator and entrepreneur to a penny pincher? Ask yourself how defrauding fellow business owners fits into your own business plan.

    The guy with the ski poles needs those crammed up his @ss. How cheap can you get?

    We are all anxiously awaiting a response from Neville on his latest entry…

  43. Anonymous

    “To the jerk off who said the same guy or girl is posting all the negative stuff is the same person is wrong”

    If that is not an admonition of guilt I do not know what is. How would you know if it is not the same person if that person were not you? What a complete asshat you are. It was some good comic relief however.

  44. Anonymous

    Why do people hate the skipool ‘flask’ idea? In this case, you are not defrauding the business that you are not patronizing. No mention at all of using the ski-pole in the bar to get around buying drinks. Most lodges do not allow skis or ski poles in the bar anyway. I assumed that the OP was using his ski pole flask while on the mountain, not in the bar. It is not wrong or cheap to bring food or drink to eat while enjoying an outdoor activity. It is a far cry from using the ski pole flask IN the resort bar.

  45. Anonymous

    hm… :)

    for me sounds like a way to steal money, not to save or make :)

    if this drinks is overpriced for you, just don’t take it :), why cheating ?

    // Sergey

    possible best ROI will be to travel in WC rooms in the trains :) – no need to buy a ticket :)

  46. CollegeGuy

    FYI, Nev’s blog has been about ways to save money as often as it has been about business ideas.

    Plus, it’s not like he’s getting fancy mixed drinks, hard-to-find liquor, nor can he use his flask for a girl he’s met (all reasons to go to a bar). What’s the difference between him taking shots at home before going to the bar and taking shots (or mixing with Coke as the case may be) at the bar from his flask?

    This is a price issue: because the price is too high, he wouldn’t normally buy the drinks anyway. The bar isn’t losing any sales from him.

    And how many people would bring candy into the movie theatre, but are bitching about the flask? Who are all these critics? STOP READING, and maybe we can get some decent discussion in the comments from those who find value in Nev’s posts.

  47. me2press

    Just one more thing on this post. When you go to a club they already charge $20.00 to get in, so if you were to have your own drinks the bar already made money. The bar is not going to go out of business because not everyone takes a flask. If the bars want more people to buy drinks then lower the cover charge or the price of drinks.

  48. David

    This was a good post about saving money and still getting drunk! I should tell my friends about this since they go out and drink more often than I do. Drinks really are expensive and I don’t see how people don’t complain but everyone complains daily about the price of gasoline.

    Crazy Daves Blog

  49. Anonymous dude,

    now you’re an idiot too, your whole purpose is just to get people to hit up your lame-az5 site…

    To promote how to fraud businesses and justify it by saying that the bars already made the money by the cover fee… here’s a point, most bars in austin do NOT charge cover… I know, I have lived there for 4 years.

    man, now we have idiots promoting other idiots…

  50. me2press

    To Anonymous I live near Toronto and they do charge major cover charges. If you go to a bar it cost about 20.00 to get in then you have $10.00 to $20.00 for parking. Then you use the rest room you have to tip some guy in there, plus drinks and tips before you know it you have over $150.00 to just go out one night of the week. So if you are in Austin and you do not have a cover charge that’s great, but to those who do have these outrages charges any tip to save money is welcome. About my blog I am trying to save money for a downpayment on a house so Nev provided an idea that could save me money and still have a little joy in my life. You need to chill out and look at things from all angles before you through stones.

  51. Anonymous

    again, idiot… nev fraudy here lives in austin….

    figures, look at you trying to justify again that people could fraud bars and business only because they’re a little more expensive and that charge for other various expenses. it was your choice to attend those expensive places, therefore it is your RESPONSIBLILITY to pay for the product and services they provide…

    go buy your, then what? you going to burn it down to justify that you couldn’t afford your mortgage and have the insurance company pay for it?

    again, idiots now trying to justify…

  52. Comment War Mediator

    There’s a little comment war here, and I think this Anonymous guy is a coward for staying anonymous while others reveal their identity.

    Anonymous, you claim to live in Austin, why don’t you call up Nev and meet with him? All of his contact info is posted. You can then discuss in a civil matter what your problem with the flask is.

    I bet you anything you would not be so crude in person.

  53. Anonymous

    whats up with the $1.00 tip on every drink. I think that is crazy. What does it take a whole 28 seconds to pop off the cap and say here…..pathetic if you ask me….my friend came back from florida, said he was at a few clubs where a regular redbull and vodka was $18….who in their right mind would drop $18 for a damn drink….I know if people continue to pay those prices they will continue to sell them at those prices.


  54. Andrew

    As another commentator said when I started reading your post I was immediately sure you were going to come up with an idea of how to get a cut of liquor sales. A very competitive business to get involved with.

    The bartenders and waitresses are making much money on tips but that is the name of the game.

  55. meenah

    bringing your own flask isnt so bad, but i wouldnt do it, im not so desperate to be included in the fun that i would go to a bar/club if i couldnt afford it. (or i would go and just not order spendy drinks. if i cant afford it, i drink at home or do something else for fun.
    when i do go out, i usually drink a couple Mike’s before we go out though. i have never considered NOT tipping. i know that when i pay cash i get better, stronger drinks and faster service, because i tip each time. usually $1 + coins if there is any from the change. When i use my debit card the bartender/waitstaff has no idea what i will end up tipping. NOT tipping would probably get you weaker drinks and slower service.

  56. jez

    I’m from Austin. Definitely understand where you’re coming from. It’s Austin, all of you others. We do what we do and we’re so damn cool. Keep Austin Weird! (That’s actually our city slogan)

  57. James

    I use a flask, I keep bottles in a cooler in my car, I pre-drink…anything to keep from being taken advantage of. It’s not frauding a business, the real fraud is the business charging $5 for a $.30 drink. The cover charge is what is used for the lights, entertainment etc…
    Overpriced drinks just make the owner richer, especially if he expects his bartender to survive from tips. I would never work a job where no matter how hard I work, my pay depends on the generosity of drunks.
    I am a picky tipper. I drink a lot when I eat and most waiters/waitresses do not check back when they are needed. If they do, I tip them well for doing their job. If I have to continuously flag them down, forget a tip, be glad that I don’t complain for the poor job.
    Good post, keep the helpful tips coming!

  58. NonTipper

    I never tip. It’s a stupid american tradition. If, however, the service was exceptional I don’t mind leaving a nice tip as incentive for people to keep up their good work.

    However, mediocre or poor service deserves no rewards. Automatic tipping is beyond stupid (refer to the Reservoir Dogs scene) and should be done away with. It is not done in most of Europe, unless you wish to express extra gratitude. It’s not expected.

    If they are hoping to survive on tips, then they should really get a better job. Not being stupid does help.

  59. TBE

    Was just thinking that I need to invest in a flask the other day. I’d rather have people think I was cheap than spend 45$ on a few drinks in a night.

  60. Craig

    We don’t live in Europe. If they don’t tip in Europe that’s fine. If you don’t want to tip, consider moving to Europe. We live in the USA, and tipping is part of our culture. A lot of people in the USA have jobs in which they need tips to provide for themselves and their families. Yeah you can say it is stupid to have a job in which you need tips to survive, but not everyone has the time or money to invest in an education or training to get a better job. I don’t go overboard when tipping, just the standard 15%. If service is shitty, do 10%. If service is great, do 20%. It’s the right thing to do.

    As for bringing booze to a bar in a flask once in a while I say hells yes if you can get away with it. For me, I’m almost always with a girl or with good friends so I’m not going to do it because I don’t want to have that kind of a reputation. We take turns buying rounds and shit so it would be impossible. But if I was ever in a situation where I could get away with it, I’d be all for it. Half of the time I toke up before I go into a bar and that causes me to drink less alcohol anyways, so what’s the difference if I buy less alcohol because I bring in a flask full of Captain Morgans?

    If you’re going to do it, do it – just don’t brag about it because its not exactly cool. If you’re not going to do it, don’t do it – and be thankful that you’re one of the good guys!

  61. fitz

    imagine living in dubai, the bare minimum you will ever find a beer is about ten dollars, no matter how shitty the bar is the price will never be less than that. How much are cocktails? I dunno, i’ve never had enough cash to be willing to waste

  62. Angeline

    What if there were no longer public places where you could go to meet people and listen to bands or just hang out with friends? This is where bloggers like this intend to send public establishments that serve alcohol. I cannot believe people are so numb in the head that they cannot realize how much it costs to operate these places and how much regulation there is to deal with. Furthermore, anyone who thinks opening a beer bottle is all there is to serving a beer needs to wtfu…there is so much more. This blog is so irritating I am beside myself. All you Ed’s who think you should go to a bar half crocked with a flak in your no tipping pocke should get a job in a bar and find out what it is really about. It is a stressful job if you are doing your job correctly. Just stay home and get crocked with yourself and you stolen cable tv

  63. anon

    1) If you have money, then don’t do it. Plain and simple.
    2) If you’re a poor college student struggling to make ends meet, but still want to have a social life in college, then do it. Once you have your degree and you’re rich, you can tip extra to make up for the years of sub-par tips and correct your karma ;).

    I used to be a bartender and I can tell that the troll who lit up these comments is most likely also a bartender (and likely an out-of-work, frustrated actor from the sound of it- I know a lot of ‘em). Yes there are always people who bring their own drinks and yes, it probably cuts into our pay a small amount. But I still made VERY GOOD money as a bartender (avg. about $20-25 an hour with tips). So quit your bitching troll. The bottom line is- even taking into account the running costs of your average bar, the mark-up on alcohol has become ridiculous. If you have a high-paying job it’s doable. But if you’re still a student or you’re low on cash- do what you gotta do, and don’t give a fuck what some angry, washed up actor-turned-pro bartender thinks.

  64. David

    I’ve over paid for drinks in my younger clubbing years in South Beach. It finally clicked to just bring a flask wherever you go. I’m not for dance clubs anymore, so it’s so easy to bring it in a sportsbar or regular bar undetected. I generally just buy maybe a couple of beers while watching a game now. Go to the car and get a swig.


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