Is it dishonest for bartenders to offer expensive drinks without mentioning a cheaper alternative? This question is proving contentious on TikTok, thanks to a viral advice video where a bartender explains how to “upsell” a margarita.
Viewed more than 734,000 times in just three days, the video depicts a simple conversation between a customer and a bartender, posted by the self-described “server & bartender sales expert” @therestaurantlaunch.
When the customer, a character played by the TikToker, orders a margarita, the bartender replies, “Did you want to do it with Casamigos…?” He then leaves the question hanging without offering a different (and implicitly less pricy) tequila brand. The customer immediately says yes and moves on.
Without thinking about it, this imaginary customer has now purchased a more expensive margarita than if he’d opted for the house tequila. It’s a widely-used style of sales tactic, but some people see it as misleading, essentially tricking the customer into paying more.
@therestaurantlaunch Easy Margarita Upsell! #serverlife #server #waiter #waitress #bartender #serverproblems #restaurant #greenscreen ♬ Head in the Clouds – Carly Pearl
There’s a lot of pushback against this technique in the comments section—especially from other people with bartending experience.
“Not everyone knows the difference between tequilas,” reads one of the top comments, explaining that they’d give the customer the option of using the house tequila instead. Others chimed in with similar comments, like, “I always ask if someone has a tequila preference, you don’t suggest a particular brand. That’s grimy.”
Several bartenders and servers claimed that it’s dishonest to try and upsell drinks like this. They prefer to make it clear to the customer that they can “upgrade” their drink with a more expensive brand, while still offering the cheaper version.
However, some other bartenders did agree with @therestaurantlaunch’s method. One user explained, “It’s called suggestive selling I’ve always been taught to do this along with assuming the sale.”
Still, this strategy was pretty unpopular with customers. Numerous people expressed their frustration about ordering expensive drinks without realizing the price—often remarking that they’d refuse to tip if a bartender misled them like this.
“Server did this to me once, I docked it from their tip when I realized how expensive it was,” reads one comment.
Another simply wrote, “Great way to not get tipped.”
Replying to a commenter who described this as a “slightly dishonest method,” the original TikToker @therestaurantlaunch gave a more measured response.
“It really depends on the customers/restaurant,” he wrote. “If my customer seems like the type to be confused that it is extra, than I would use a diff approach.” So even he isn’t advising bartenders to go for an aggressive upsell.
The Daily Dot has reached out to @therestaurantlaunch via TikTok comment.