The real cost of booze

Alcohol tends to be over-priced in many countries, and this is primarily due to two levels ofย  mark-ups. One is government tax, the other is at the on-trade (ie the outlet level).

Over in Malaysia, the tax is high. However, so are the mark-ups at the outlets, and people tend to blame the government for high prices when outlets also share the blame for this.

Besides last week (when the tax or beer was raised by cents), the alcohol tax hasn’t been raised for TEN years. However, outlets continued to increase prices disproportionately.

Anyway, many outlets add up to 400% for drinks based on their cost of goods sold (COGS), which is kinda extreme. More so for cocktails.

Probably overpriced

Probably overpriced

Here’s an idea on how much the outlets pay for booze, based on suppliers’ pricing.

A glass / pint of Tiger (draught): RM7.45 / RM11.18

A glass / pint of Guinness (draught): RM8.75 / RM13.12

A glass of gin (eg Beefeater): RM4

A glass of vodka (eg Absolut): RM4.40

A glass of Scotch (eg Grant’s / Black Label): RM5.90 / RM7.40

A glass of rum (Bacardi): RM5.28

Pretty decent eh?

Also, they get trade offers, and sales incentives, which includes free kegs / cash / bottles. So the actual cost could be even lower.

There’s this popular joint in BSC that sells mojitos for 30 bucks. I was told by a supplier that they use moonshine rum disguised in a premium bottle! Disgusting if true. At RM30, you can easily afford to give Bacardi or something, rather than a local rum that costs 25 bucks for the whole bottle. I once saw bartenders at Luna Bar pour crap into a bottle of Smirnoff to use for cocktails.

In fact many outlets do this for their cocktails, including hotels. It’s sick.

Beers shouldn't be expensive

Beers shouldn’t be expensive

Anyway, the mark-up (referring to premium drinks, not moonshine) is obviously to cover costs. However, the mark-ups should depend on several factors. Theoretically. Some fancy joints can probably justify higher prices – for example if the place has killer views, a swimming pool, or many professional staff, or nice decor, or spent on ID / decor / sound system, or high monthly costs due to a large space etc.

Unfortunately, even basic to mid-level bars, neighbourhood pubs, and the like also tend to impose very high mark-ups, mostly unjustified. (Prices at many coffeeshops are also quite ridiculous.)

Their extreme mark-ups are probably due to reasons other than mentioned above, such as the desire to make fast money, or greed. Many bar owners are in the business for the money, not the passion of owning and running a bar.

And the F&B business in Malaysia is pretty dirty, that’s for sure. And so are many owners, who underpay their staff with low wages, and charge customers 10% Service Charge, but keep that money meant for staff, for themselves. That’s very common.

Some have decent happy hours, but murder you after that.

So while taxes are high, many outlets are obviously taking advantage as well, thinking that everyone blames the government.

I’ll leave it to the consumer to decide if the bars you go to are pricing their drinks unfairly.

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Beware, your beer has a clandestine enemy

I learnt something new today. Keeping your drinks cold has another enemy that is little known – condensation.

While i always assumed condensation was natural and quite harmless, it’s in truth a goddam cold-sucker. The droplets on your glass, can or bottle, are actually the main cause of your drink warming up.

Once you grab a can or bottle of beer from the fridge or esky/ice-box , stopping it from warming up quick is a losing battle, unless you have some protection. (Thirsty Blogger post on booze storing systems and ice-boxes here.)

The important part is why. The researchers studied how much of an effect the water droplets that collect on the outside of the beverage โ€” condensation โ€” have on the temperature of the can, glass or bottle.

NOOOOooo....

NOOOOooo….

The effect is huge: the formation of those damn droplets sucks heat from the surrounding air, and delivers it straight to the drink.

It was sumtin i saw on Business Insider, an article called Science Proves It: Koozies Keep Beer Colder. Among others, the koozie stops the formation of these water drops, thus slowing the heating process.

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Koozies by huggaz – handy drinkers’ gear

Works for wine bottles too

Works for wine bottles too

Says study researcher Dale Durran, atmospheric scientist of the University Of Washington, “Probably the most important thing a beer koozie does is not simply insulate the can, but keep condensation from forming on the outside of it.โ€

I didn’t know that. I assumed it’s role was merely the insulation from the surrounding heat.

Will use huggaz koozies a lot more now. Haha.

A beer is typically served at 5 Celsius. With condensation, within 5 minutes it can double and warm up to 10 Celsius. Condensation is an exothermic process. Heat is released into its surroundings, in this case, the beer.

Liquid absorbs heat to turn into gas; thus gas (in this case H2O) releases heat when it turns into liquid.

condensation

Condensation = bad news. Gas turning to liquid and causing shit

When u see sweat on your can, beer or wine bottle, or glass, it’s no good. And the more humid the air is, the worse the condensation. And we have a high 80% humidity.

So watch out for that condensation. And if you dont have a koozie/huggaz, a napkin will have to do. Just make sure you don’t allow that evil condensation!
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