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Three shots and $1,000 later, a question about etiquette at the bar

This is not expensive scotch. This is Irish whiskey, because the photographer's on a budget.

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

Four guys walk into a bar, and what happens next is definitely not a joke.

It started when my partner David and I went out with another couple. We saw a show and, afterward, went for a nightcap at a nearby establishment. We're not naming it here because it's not important where this happened, just that it happened.

We sat down at a table without menus, and the bartender came to take our orders. David and I each got a Manhattan. Our friends pointed to a chalkboard listing some different varieties of scotch, and the bartender quickly returned with the bottles, and poured three shots: One for each of our friends, and a third to pass around and taste.

It wasn't until the first sips had been taken that we thought to look at a menu. Two of the shots were approximately $235. Each. The third was in the neighborhood of $430.

This wasn't even going on my tab, and I still almost choked.

And the question quickly came up: Whose responsibility is this? Is it on the customer for failing to see the price? Is it on the bar for failing to warn?

Hear the story above, and listen to the verdict of an expert bartender (not from the establishment where this happened). Then tell us what you think. Should the bartender have warned the customer what they were ordering? Or is it just their tough luck?

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.