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How to make wine bars better: demand-driven pricing

The ticker above the bar at The Exchange

Recently, a friend invited me to her local watering hole, The Exchange Bar & Grill in Manhattan. The bar lives up to its name: There's a stock ticker running above the bartender's head, and several screens display fluctuating prices. But you won't learn how your 401(k) is doing (as you drink it away). It's the prices on the drinks that are rising and falling by the minute.

How does it work? Think of it like this. A tanned, chiseled, hairless fist-pumper from Seaside Heights does the Harlem Shake on his way toward the bar, where he orders 12 Cosmo shots for his bros and their girls. As the main ingredient is vodka, any vodka drink's price instantly rises on the ticker due to the sudden rise in demand. In turn, the price of all gin drinks will fall, due to slower market activity.

My first question to the bartender: "Can I short Zima?"

The lack of response indicated he hears this sort of thing a lot. Similarly, my friends have grown tired of hearing me ramble on about how disappointing I find most wine bars to be. But I'd be much more interested if they followed The Exchange's lead.

Imagine: A group of nine cougars – who told their husbands they'd be at book club all night – enter the wine bar and order three bottles of Rombauer Chardonnay. Instantly, the price on Rombauer rises, given the sudden demand. Accordingly, the price of Rock Wall Zinfandel drops.

I could get behind this. Of course, such a concept could lead to several bad decisions...

"Did you see that?! The price of Grand Cru Burgundy just fell three bucks to $279! C'mon, one more bottle before we call it a night?"



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