Ask the Editor: What Is That “Rocks” Upcharge on My Bar Bill?

No, you’re not paying for ice.

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There’s a $2 “rocks” upcharge on my tab when I order whiskey on the rocks. Am I paying for ice?

—Sue in Ambler

Philly Mag food editor Alex Tewfik

Ah, the rocks charge, one of the restaurant industry’s great flusterers. It’s maddening to think you’re paying for ice—which is why you should know that you’re not. You’re paying for more liquor! It all depends on the bar’s drink pour.

If you get a whiskey soda, most spots will pour 1.5 ounces of whiskey over ice and then top with club soda. If you order whiskey on the rocks, the pour can be a half-ounce more, which is the reason for the upcharge. Some places will build it right into the cost of the drink; others mark it as a modification with an upcharge.

Either way, rest easy knowing that you’re not getting swindled; you’re getting more of a thing you already wanted.