BYOB is an acronym for Bring Your Own Bottle or beverage.  If you see BYOB on a restaurant website or advertisement, just remember that it does have to be an alcoholic beverage like beer, wine or sangria.  It does not mean soft drinks and/or beverages without alcohol.  The reason is because  these restaurants do not have a license, so its ok to bring your own wine, but not a bottle of soda which then eliminates their sales and income.  In fact, you might even see some restaurants serving a pitcher of sangria for $17 or more but use your wine to do it.  You have to understand that fruit, juices, pitchers cost money, so of course they have to charge, but this is how they recover some of the money lost from not having a license to sell or serve wine.

An important part, if not the most important part of the meal or dining experience.  It is also a friendly way of them letting you know that while they do not have a wine list or license to sell it, you are welcome to bring you own. Don’t think that you will be frowned upon if you bring in a bottle of wine, beer or anything else alcoholic.  Of course you don’t bring you own bottle of soda to save a few dollars, but wine or beer, yes, for sure.

The great thing about BYOB restaurants is that by not paying a very high price for a liquor license, they are able to keep the prices reasonable, or at least they should be. Of course there is still rent to pay, but if there is a liquor license involved even though they are making a killing on selling you a beer they pay pennies for, they still have to charge you $7 or more each just to pay off the price of that license.

The other great thing about BYOB is you decide what the wine list is.  You are not forced to choose from a list of sub-par wines that you can buy in the wine store for $10.  Whatever wine you feel like drinking, you bring, you are not forced to buy a glass or bottle from a list that you would never buy if you were drinking at home.

What makes matters worse is you can always triple the price of that wine.  For example, if you get a basic chianti you can find in nearly any wine or liquor store for $10, they will be charging you $30 or more in a restaurant.  Why?  Because restaurants are basically paying the same price you are for the bottle. By law, the distributors are not permitted to charge less than what it normally retails for.  Of course there is a way to go around that like saving the restaurant the expense of shipping, perhaps some other things, but at the end of the day, they are paying the same price you are for that bottle.  Obviously they need to make money, and they do that by charging more.  The other issue is storage, and storage means real estate.  They can’t just carry a few bottles, they have to carry cases of it.  This takes up space, and space costs money, especially in a big city, especially in Manhattan.

So when you buy that bottle of wine in a restaurant, realize you are paying triple because you have to pay for its shipping, rent and storage.


  • A bottle of wine holds 750ml and that is about 5 glasses assuming each glass holds 5 ounces. It is important to remember to drink responsibly, so if 2 drinks is your limit, remember if you split a bottle with someone else, you are beyond your limit. One bottle should be enough for 3 people within reason.
  • In some states it is illegal to drive with open bottles of alcohol in the car. So if you bring a bottle and cannot finish it, leave it there on the table. They will either discard it or enjoy it later after hours. Trust me, even if that bottle cost you $40 and you drank more than half of it, $10 of wine is not worth running the risk putting yourself or others at risk on the road. Even if you are pulled over for a minor traffic violation, they can revoke your license. Its just not worth it, leave what is left in the bottle on the table when you leave.
  • You can purchase half bottles of wine if you don’t want to leave some of the bottle behind, but it will cost you the same price as a full bottle, so just buy a bottle you like and don’t feel you have to drink it all.
  • Bottles with screw tops instead of corks are better when dining out.  This way you don’t have to bring a corkscrew and you don’t have to wait for the waiter or waitress to open it for you.
  • You can also buy convenient mini 4-packs of wine.  Each bottle holds a glass, and this way you can mix and match red, white and rose so you can be sure that you and/or your guest(s) at dinner have a choice of what to drink because you never know what you are going to order whether it be chicken, fish, beef, etc.

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