Bar Drink Ranking: From Bottom to Top Shelf

Bar Drink Ranking: From Bottom to Top ShelfSo three friends walk into a bar and order whiskey shots for bar drinks. One orders one with 7-up, another gets CC and 7 and the last one orders a Crown Royal and 7. They all ordered flashy cocktails with a brand of whisky and 7-up, so why don’t they all cost the same?  Everyone has a brand of whiskey and 7-up, so shouldn’t their bar drinks cost the same?

There are three classifications of liquors and in bar terms they are called classes.  They are: well, call and premium.  Well are described that way because they are readily kept at your bartender’s well station. They are the cheapest, off brand liquor that tastes the same as their more expensive counterparts. The well can be described as a rack of bottles that are the most visible between the bartender and the bar.  Experienced bartenders know that the average club or restaurant goer doesn’t really have a preference to what class of bar drinks they order, they just want to drink.

Bar drinks that are ordered by brand name, referring back to the CC and 7 in our example, are called “call liquors”.  CC is an abbreviation for Canadian Club Whisky and a 7-up.  This brand name is a little more expensive and many tend to believe it is of a finer quality.  These types are usually celebrity endorsed bar drinks and are advertised more frequently than well brands are.  Those advertising campaigns aren’t going to pay for themselves.

The most familiar brand of whiskey is Crown Royal. People sometimes refer to it as simply Crown.  Its expensive and widely advertised and endorsed.  They have a highly styled bottle and a classy image; therefore they are on display on the back wall behind the bar.  It’s a product placement strategy and it also makes the bar look classy.  Its also used in the strategy of “up-selling” bar drinks and they’re usually purchased less often in certain settings.

Friend A, ordered well whiskey and 7-up, paid $ for her cocktail.
Friend B, is drinking a call brand CC and 7, paid $$ for hers.
Friend C, drinking premium brand Crown and 7 paid $$$.

Liquor stores have adapted this hierarchy when trying to sell bar drinks. This which makes buying bar drinks on a budget a little easier when stocking the home bar or shopping for big night out. Well brands, that cost the least are closest to the bottom and the middle shelves feature call brands. Premium brands are the ones calling to us from the top shelf. They’re also nicknamed “Top Shelf Liquors“.

It also carries over to stores that sell the brands.  This hierarchy helps consumers who are budgeting their money better find liquor that suits their taste.  Its easier to stock up for a wedding, vacation or a night out with friends because the lowest price liquor is usually on the shelf closest to the ground.