origin of well (as in alcohol)

So, when I go to the bar and only have a few bucks (um, every time?), I get a well vodka and tonic. Why does well mean “the cheap booze”? Just because the former sounds better than the latter? What’s the origin?


There could be a clue from this page:

My bolding.

So, a “well drink”, usually one far less strong than normal, could bee a farewell drink. I’ve seen it referred to as a “house drink” as well.

The well is where a bar keeps basic (cheap, not really name brand) alcohol. Usually it is a rack right around waist level, near the soda gun. These well bottles are used for mixed drinks (rum & coke, gin & tonic, etc.) It is faster to have all the generic types of alcohol in one spot. For example, Skyy Vodka would never be considered a well vodka, but "Peterson’s Russian Vodka"fake name would. Jack Daniels usually isn’t a well bourbon, but “Old No. 7 Kentucky Bourbon” would almost certainly be.

While the well alcohol may not be the best in the bar, it’s cheap, tastes about the same in a mixer, and if the bottle is dropped, it’s not nearly as expensive to replace.

Here is a cite for my previous post.

I always thought the well drinks were called such because they were kept in a refrigated “well” along the front of the bar. “Top Shelf” and “back bar” drinks are likewise kept on the top shelf and back bar.

Not all places have cheap wells; depending on how low or upscale the establishment the well may vary (as does the price of well drinks.) Some larger places have their well drinks discharged from a gun like soda. (Places like casinos where pretty much all the drinks are served from the well.)