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Bottle Service: A Brief History

Nowadays, no New York club opening is complete without it. Here’s how we wound up paying $300 for a bottle of Stoli delivered to the table.

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1941
A Wartime Convenience
In Japan, ewers of sake are served to seated soldiers. Soon after, it becomes normal for Tokyo businessmen to buy bottles and store the unfinished portion in lounge lockers.

1988
Guaranteed Access
With more customers than space, Paris nightclub Les Bains Douches begins selling table reservations, which come with a complimentary bottle.

1993
VIP Treatment
To promote a small, 200-person VIP section of the Tunnel, Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker offer bottle service at $90. With drinks at $6, customers actually save about $30.

1995
A Barrier to Entry
At Spy Bar, David Sarner and Michael Ault make bottle service mandatory for VIP-room access, with mixed results, then turn an entire club over to the trend at Chaos a year later (Stoli: $175). Thanks to the Internet boom, they meet with more success the second time around.

2001
Bottle Service Reigns
Pangaea and Bungalow 8 open, joining Lotus to rule New York nightlife, with Bungalow charging $500 for a bottle of Grey Goose. And the fad spreads to Miami and Vegas.

2006
Gimmicks Arrive
With seven bottle- service clubs on West 27th Street alone, owners have to get creative. At Pink Elephant, a Spirit Tree comes with mini-bottles of various liquors and complimentary sweets.


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