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One shot of these brands runs between $35 and $45 each.

“I think they are just doing it to impress the other players at the table,” said Phil Byrd (pictured), who bartended at Riverwind before moving on to Louie’s, 1215 N. Walker. “I wouldn’t pay that much.”

Either way, the casino is one of the rare places one will find upper-level alcohol at those prices.

Pubs like Drinkz, 115 E. Reno in Bricktown, don’t sell anything so hefty. When asked about Drinkz’ most expensive liquor, a bartender said Scotch and cognac run under $10.

For many, splurging on alcohol can be as simple as ordering Patron over Jose Cuervo; in the case of tequila, this can be well worth the price difference, especially for shots.

Vodka, for example, is best upgraded into splurge territory when drinking straight or on the rocks. By definition, vodka is flavorless liquor; when mixed with tomato juice or soda water, little difference exists between higher-priced Grey Goose and house-level McCormick.

“There are some bottles locked away upstairs [at Riverwind] that run over $2,000 a bottle,” Byrd said. “Those shots are well over $100 each.”

Not everyone makes such lavish purchases regularly, but when they do — think weddings, anniversaries and other special occasions — it is important to understand when the extra dollars are worth the investment.

New Year’s Eve is one such time.

Limited edition Dom Perignon 2002 currently runs $195, compared to Veuve Clicquot, about $20. However, is the extra money spent on the premium bottle worth the price? Does the more expensive bubbly taste $200 better than its frugal counterparts?

While many connoisseurs claim they can taste the difference in the various drinks, most people will not be able to differentiate between the $20 and the $195 bottles.

“I can tell the difference between Johnny Walker Blue and a cheaper flavor such as Black,” Byrd said. “A lot of the older customers told me the same. I think it tastes better, but not $30 or $40 better.”

Editor’s note: Shawn S. Lealos worked at Riverwind Casino as a bartender for four years.

Photo by Mark Hancock

Shawn Lealos

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