Lounge Receipt Whips Up Online Firestorm About “Rocks” Charges

A bar receipt from Indigo Lounge at Bally’s has stirred up heated discussion online, but the outrage, it turns out, is largely misguided.

The receipt, posted by a customer to the Bally’s Facebook page, shows what many have mistaken as $3 charges for ice.

Here’s the receipt in question.

Rocks receipt
The receipt that inspired a thousand Facebook comments and angry reaction emoji thingys.

When we first saw this receipt, we got worked up like everyone else, but quickly realized we are largely an idiot.

It seems the term “rocks” has nothing to do with ice in this context. When a customer orders liquor on the rocks, it’s standard to pour an extra half-ounce of liquor. A standard pour is 1.5 ounces, but drinks on the rocks contain two ounces.

The $3 charge, then, is for the additional liquor, not the ice. A common term for the additional charge is a “rocks bump.”

Apparently, one of the motivations for this practice is 1.5 ounces of liquor doesn’t look like very much alcohol when poured into a rocks glass. Those in the bartending field say customers who order drinks on the rocks are well aware they’ll get a larger pour, and customers tend to feel they’re actually getting a decent deal because they’re getting a third more hooch for a nominal charge.

Captain and diet cocktail
If people would just stick to Captain and diet like we do, things like this wouldn’t happen in the first place. Note: Foliage optional.

It seems listing “rocks” on the receipt is used more as an internal accounting notation than a description of what the customer is receiving. From what we can tell, a customer would be charged the rocks bump for a drink ordered “neat” (without ice) as well.

In many bars, the upcharge for a stronger pour is included in a drink’s overall price, rather than being itemized separately, thereby sidestepping customer confusion and the furor Indigo’s receipt caused.

So, the whole “rocks” thing was much ado about nothing. Nevertheless, there was a definite kerfuffle. How much of one? Check us out on KTNV talking about both the “ker” and the “fuffle.”

Rocks receipt
Told you it was a thing.

Perhaps the bigger story here is how ready people are to believe Las Vegas is giving them the shaft. We’ve certainly contributed to that climate by reporting about paid parking, smaller shot sizes, CNF charges and other changes to the Las Vegas landscape. Such revelations seem to be priming the pump, and many seem to be looking for any proof they’re being nickel-and-dimed, even if they’re jumping to the wrong conclusions about that “proof.”

For now, we’re going with “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

Along those lines, when we referred to “largely misguided,” we left a little wiggle room for outrage. First, man alive, drinks are expensive. In Vegas, $16 is the new $8. Just remember, you’re not paying for a drink, you’re paying for an experience, and that’s the story we’re sticking to.

Second, look elsewhere on the receipt and you’ll find the ominous phrase, “Peak pricing may apply.”

“Peak pricing” amounts to what’s called “surge pricing” in the rideshare world. The greater the demand, the higher the prices.

We wrote about peak pricing awhile back as we noticed more and more Las Vegas restaurants leaving prices off their menus. Restaurants often do this so they have the flexibility to raise prices when it’s deemed necessary, like on Fridays and Saturdays. That means you can have the exact same meal on a Tuesday or Saturday night, but the price you pay could change dramatically.

Peak pricing might not warrant outrage, per se, but it’s certainly worth asking about if you’re making a reservation.

In Las Vegas, we only want happy surprises.