Friend is picking up the whole tab--but conditions apply.

My friend “Sally” is having a milestone birthday pretty soon and is invited just a few friends, five or six of us, to a small pizza place near her house. She wants to pick up the tab for whatever we order…

…unless we order beer or wine. Then we’re on our own.

Two or three of us may want a bit of alcohol and we’re willing to pay for it, but we’re puzzled by Sally’s conditions. She is far from destitute, serves beer and wine to guests in her home, and drinks an occasional mimosa although she doesn’t much care for alcoholic drinks in general.

Am I missing something?

I’d assume she’s set a specific budget for herself and can easily account for the cost of the pizza/entrees, but drinks can be expensive. So rather than getting caught in a situation where she’s either spending way more than she’d hoped to, or asking people to limit their consumption, she’s telling people to pay for their own alcohol. That way, each person can enjoy as much (or as little) as he or she would like.

Wild guess.

Beer and wine when eating out is usually absurdly overpriced. The actual food not so much.

Hey, I don’t mind buying you $15 worth of fried shrimp, but hell if I am going to buy you a $7 Bloody Mary that has maybe a $1 worth of ingredients in it.

OK, is the offer

A) Come to celebrate my birthday with Pizza! My treat! But, if you are going to drink beer or wine with your Pizza, you are going to have to buy the beer/wine yourself.


B) Come to celebrate my birthday with Pizza! My treat! But, if you are going to drink beer or wine with your Pizza, you are going to have to pay for your Pizza as well as your beer/wine.

If it’s A), then I would find that perfectly reasonable. One, some people will drink much more (driving up the bill) if they don’t have to pay. Two, the cost of the outing can easily double (or triple) if the cost of alcoholic beverages is included.

If it’s B), I would have to really wonder about “Sally” and might even be moved to post a question on a message board about it.

All they have is a bit of beer and wine for not so much dough:

When I hosted my husband’s 50th birthday party a couple of years ago, I paid for the first round of drinks. This was clearly stated on the menu (it was a preset meal served family style, so lots of items to choose from) and I told everyone beforehand that the drinks after the first were on them.

I figured I paid for dinner and dessert for nearly 20 people as well as their first round of drinks. We had a blast and everyone got the price of a wonderful meal for free, or the cost of their subsequent drinks.

At one of my SIL’s weddings, where there was an open bar, the bartender had to ask my in-laws for more money or they’d have to close the open bar. Free makes people go crazy sometimes.

If you give people carte blanche to order drinks, they’ll drink more than if they’re paying for it (or drink top shelf brands). Something like Ivylass’s solution would work, but, in general, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people to pay for their own drinks.

Given what you say here, I suspect that she thinks at least one of her guests drinks too much and may ruin the party by getting drunk.

I would agree that it’s not unreasonable. There’s a limit to how much pizza (or other food) someone can eat (unless you are talking about teenage boys), but the cost of drinks is going to be much more variable, not just because of the number of drinks but by price (although I assume a pizza joint is not going to have $100 bottles of wine). This goes even more so if you allow for fancy cocktails which can get pricey very fast. This may just be a way to avoid a big surprise when the bill comes.

I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility that she’s aware that one of the other guests may be prone to overindulge if given carte blanche.

I was once asked at a pizza joint if I would like to purchase their recipe.

Boy DID I get a surprise come bill time.

True, but as I said in post #5, all they have is bottles of beer for $4.50 and cheap wine.
And none of us gals drinks much.

That said, we’re fine with the arrangement. Just never heard of it before.

Invitations with ‘B.Y.O.B.’ are very common.

Beer on that menu costs 2-3 times as much as soda and wine up to 5 times as much.

I’ve done it before.

It strikes me as a little unusual to do it for a place that’s comparatively cheap rather than a more expensive restaurant, but the concept isn’t unusual.

What does strike me as unusual is the person celebrating the birthday paying for it. In a similar situation, a group of friends going out to a restaurant to celebrate a birthday or other event, I would expect the friends to split the tab and pay for the honoree’s part of it.

This is different from a milestone birthday party which may be paid for by the family. When we had an 80th birthday party for my mother, we paid for everything including an open bar. When I’ve gone out for a milestone birthday with my family everyone else has split the tab.

To me, the most unusual aspect of this is someone hosting their own milestone birthday rather than having family or friends throw a party for them.

This. I may be able to scrounge up enough to pay for the dinners (and drinks = soda / tea / bottled water) of some friends, but there’d be no way I would also want to add on coin for anything alcoholic. 1) I’d feel like if I was springing for everything else, they could cover their own Sex on the Beach, and 2) perhaps I’d want additional monies for them spent elsewhere, like taking us all to the movies or whatever.

If a hot provides alcohol for her guests, she may be liable for the consequences of their drinking and driving. Better to leave that on the people with the insurance.

My guess is that the pizzas take a long time to prepare at that restaurant. I don’t see appetizers listed on the menu and it isn’t customary to serve complimentary breadsticks at pizza places. It’s easy enough to go through 3-4 drinks while waiting for pizza, especially if you’re waiting for the whole group to arrive before the pizzas are ordered

That was my thought as well. Is not paying for the liquor a preemptive legal move?

Commonly you would sue the establishment, not the person paying the tab. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but it’s a pretty remote risk. I think the more reasonable fear is a friend getting hurt, rather that the risk of a lawsuit.