Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BYOB Basics by Teresa C. Macdonald

(To miminize scroll fatigue in today's pipeline, I am posting this article on BYOB Basics written by a contributor, Teresa, here on this blog.)

BYOB Basics
By Teresa C. Macdonald

Times have changed and BYOBs are hip (and I don’t mean Bring Your Own Bag). More and more upscale restaurants are going BYO. I took a quick look at the numbers for the Bucktown/Wicker Park area.

• 27 BYOBs listed on Metromix (www.metromix.com)
• 81 BYOBs found on Yelp (www.yelp.com)
• About 17 BYO’s listed in BYOB-Chicago 3rd edition (the index is a bit scattered)

BYOB restaurants provide this alternative by charging a corkage fee. This fee covers your “rentals” such as glassware, wine chillers and corkscrews (even if it’s only a twist-off). In Bucktown/Wicker Park this fee can be per person or per bottle (ranging anywhere from $5 to $25 per bottle), and sometimes is waved on certain days of the week or even for bottles over a certain age.

Just call ahead or check the restaurant’s website to understand their BYOB policy. Restaurants are pretty clear about their corkage fee, if they limit the number of bottles, or if they allow other alcoholic beverages such as beer, sake, etc. Your call is especially welcome at multi-course dining establishments who love to provide suggested wine compliments for each course. When you arrive, tell your server you’ve brought a bottle and they’ll take it from there.

How do I get the most out of my BYOB experience? My two tricks are: to pull something from my cellar and to make certain it has a cork. Since I’m being charged, I like to see the waiter use a corkscrew rather than his fist and by emptying my cellar I ensure the corkage fee won’t exceed the cost of my wine. It’s disheartening when you’re charged $15 to open your $10 bottle you picked-up around the corner.

That’s all there is to it, really.

by Teresa C. Macdonald

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