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The purchase of bottle service typically includes a reserved table for the patron's party and mixers of the patron's choice. Bottle service can include the service of a VIP host, who will ensure that patrons have sufficient mixers and will often make drinks using the patrons' liquor bottle and mixers. The purchase of bottle service sometimes results in cover charge being waived for the purchaser's party, and often allows patrons to bypass entrance lines. The tip is also often included in the price.
Early forms of bottle service existed in World War II era Japan, where unfinished bottles would be stored. In its modern form, an early example was in 1988 at the Paris nightclub Les Bains Douches, bottle service was introduced to deal with an excess of customer demand. An early, inexpensive form of bottle service ($90, compared with $6 drinks) was established at the Tunnel in New York City in 1993 (by Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker). The modern form of bottle service was pioneered in 1995 by Michael Ault at Spy Bar and in 1996, Chaos ($175 for a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka), with the goal of creating a "barrier to entry", rather than of increasing liquor sales.
The cost of bottle service and the central position provided to purchasers of bottle service has led some critics to complain that bottle service is turning night clubs into elitist dens. Preferential treatment for purchasers of bottle service may include stopping the regular dance music when an especially expensive bottle is purchased and, instead, playing a theme song, or removing patrons from a table to make way for another patron and his party that purchased bottle service.
- Milzoff, Rebecca (October 16, 2006). "Can Clubland Survive Without Bottle Service?". New York. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
- Niemietz, Brian (June 18, 2006). "Bottle Service: A Brief History". New York.
- Draoulec, Pascale (February 7, 2011). "Most Expensive Bottle Service". Forbes. Retrieved July 18, 2011.