Dinner w/ Bar Evaluations

I've been shopping restaurants for over a year now, but for the Dinner shops with Bar evaluations either before or after the meal, I have always ordered a beer or wine to seem "natural."

It has always felt unnatural to me to order a non-alcoholic drink at the bar by myself. The shop requirements allow guests to order anything except water. I don't want to be exposed as a shopper!

By ordering a non-alcoholic drink, it might eat less into my reimbursement amount and honestly, I'd rather spend the money on food.

What are your thoughts on things to order "at the bar" for shops like these?

Thanks!

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Vodka and tonic before dinner. There doesn't seem to be a reason to sit at the bar without ordering a drink, a beer is fine. Seems weird not to order and a coke you can get at the table with dinner, for me, I go during happy hour, and drinks are 4 to 5$.

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping....
Thanks for sharing your experience!

I don't mind the alcoholic beverage, but I personally don't enjoy them. The way I see it is if I can save some reimbursement money from the drink and have it on the dinner, I'd rather do that.

What's the least expensive item I can order at a bar, not seem suspicious, but also meet the guidelines?

I feel that soda wouldn't pass... nobody sits at a bar drinking NON-Alcoholic drinks, as you say. sad smiley
If I was going non-alcoholic, maybe something like a sparkling water with lime or lemon.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
How about saying you haven't eaten all day and don't want to have wine or a cocktail on an empty stomach.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
I have sat at the bar for many non shops and just ordered a diet cola. Usually so I could watch a game on their TV. I have never had a bartender give me a second look.
@macrophage wrote:

What's the least expensive item I can order at a bar, not seem suspicious, but also meet the guidelines?

I feel that soda wouldn't pass... nobody sits at a bar drinking NON-Alcoholic drinks, as you say. sad smiley

The least expensive alcoholic drink would usually be a Budweiser or Coors type beer. Or as someone suggested, sit there during happy hour and get something, usually $5 specials.
Often times, I'm stuck waiting for my husband as he parks. If there isn't a wait for seating and can't pass time at the bar naturally beforehand, I will go up and order a ginger ale to "calm my quesy first date nerves".
At the airport bar shops you are not allowed to order alcohol. I order a soda water with lemon and a soup or chowder. I know this is somewhat different than a dinner shop, but I don't feel funny about it.
The one and only airport bar shop I've done didn't have any restrictions on alcoholic drinks. However, I didn't think about how the price of a beer would probably be jacked up, and even though I ordered the cheapest item on the menu I barely got out of there without hitting the reimbursement limit.
@shopper8 wrote:

At the airport bar shops you are not allowed to order alcohol. I order a soda water with lemon and a soup or chowder. I know this is somewhat different than a dinner shop, but I don't feel funny about it.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. Eleanor Roosevelt
I really hate dinner, bar combos. It's like they are trying to get you to do two shops and they only want to pay for one. In my area a drink and tip is usually $10 or more per person. I'm not going to order a $3.00 soda and then another one at dinner. I used to love this one company I worked for until they started demanding a bar visit in addition to the restaurant, with no additional reimbursement. I stopped taking the shops. Hey schedulers! If you want us to do both, please pay us for both. I know you are charging the clients more so how about passing it on to us? In addition to the extra expense,the extra time spent in the restaurant, the extra report takes time and effort that you are not paying us for.
There are a lot of alcoholics that still sit at a bar and drink soda. Forturnealy I am not one of them.
I think for a shop that pays $15 the reality is that the separate dinner would be reimbursement-only and the bar would probably pay the fee, so I'm happy to have them tied together. Also, many dinners don't allow mixed drinks at the table so it's a good chance to order a cocktail for my guest and a water for me, and then have a cocktail at the table while I order wine....or a way for me to get 2 glasses of wine with dinner!!

I agree with all those that say you don't have to state a reason for not ordering an alcoholic drink at the bar. You may be sober. You may be pregnant. You may be getting over a cold. It's none of their business and it would be really strange for a bartender to question it. Their job is to serve drinks that are ordered. Order whatever you like. Make no excuses.
If you are looking to save a buck, ask what domestic draft is on special. I have done this type of shop for many years and when an alcoholic beverage is not required, I always order iced tea, because I'm driving! Best wishes to you!
We often say we are waiting for something/someone but are thirsty in the Arizona heat...it is not uncommon here, especially in the summer, to need to rapidly drink something non-alcoholic because you are starting to dehydrate. The worse thing in the world you would want at that point would be alcohol, so in AZ no one thinks twice about a soda or bottled water at the bar.
I always order soda. I take a medicine for blood clots that doesn't play well with alcohol. I don't really have a pro or con feeling about it, but I also don't care what the bartender or anyone else thinks. I'm taking care of me and doing a shop to make some cash.
yes I have ordered a soda too, waiting for a table, waiting for a guest...I honestly don't think they care.
Oftentimes, when I know my budget I'll look at the restaurant's menu and crunch the numbers on what I can afford including tax and tip. Sometimes that doesn't include enough room for a drink at the bar, and if I have to go before dinner, my excuse is always "I'm waiting for my guest, and I'm on medication that doesn't allow me to drink."

After dinner, if I'm not getting hooch, I just order a coke and explain I "need a little caffeine for the ride home."
I too try to schedule arrival during happy hour. I order a happy hour drink and then we just bring it to the table when the required time is up at the bar (or when my guest arrives a few minutes later). That way he is able to have "two drinks" with dinner which he prefers but one is paid for at the bar. You need to check to make sure this is okay with the restaurant and msc. I drink water and a few sips of the bar wine. You could also order a soda and once inside the restaurant continue to get free refills. If a drink is required inside the restaurant the second person can have a drink for that requirement.
KathyG- All airport shops that I shop do not allow alcohol at any bar.
There is another company that wants you to buy a beer. They are not part of the airport circuits, to clarify.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2017 05:56PM by shopper8.
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