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Champagne Buffets: Does It Ever Make Sense To Pay For Them?

All-you-can-drink buffets might not be such great idea as they initially sound.

Like many countries around the world, Singapore has a wide range of measures to curtail alcohol consumption. This includes laws against drinking in public between 10.30pm to 7am, restrictions on alcohol advertising and steep alcohol duties, which were most recently increased by 25% in 2014. This has made Singapore one of the most expensive cities to drink in.

Despite these measures, alcohol consumption has continued to grow in Singapore. According to Singapore Customs, the amount of duty-paid alcohol increased from 135 million litres in 2014 to 140 million litres in 2017, resulting in $664 million of liquor duties collected in 2017.

Seeing this as a business opportunity, more hotels and restaurants have introduced champagne brunches to spice up their buffet lunches. Diners are usually presented the option to pay more on top of the prevailing retail price for free flow alcohol.

Judging by how renowned food bloggers have compiled a list of their favourite champagne brunches, it seems that the concept of champagne brunches has gained traction in Singapore.

While the prospect of free flow champagne and other alcoholic drinks sounds attractive, is it really something worth paying extra for? Let’s find out.

Read Also: Why Is Singapore One Of The Most Expensive Cities To Drink In?

How Much Do You Need To Pay?

At Colony at the Ritz Carlton, a Sunday brunch goes for $142++ per adult without alcohol, and $192++ per adult with free flow alcoholic beverages. With taxes, this means you have top up $58.85 for free flow alcohol.

The alcoholic drinks on offer include Moet & Chandon Champagne, selected cocktails and mocktails, house red and white wines, and draft beer.

For Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt, a Sunday brunch goes for $118++ without alcohol. There is the option of topping up $40, $60 or $90 for different varieties of alcoholic drinks, which includes champagne, wines, martinis, gin and tonics, and Tiger beer.

At the Town Restaurant at the Fullerton Hotel, a Sunday brunch goes for $120++ per adultwithout alcohol, and S$168++ per adult for free-flow house wine and champagne.

On average, you should expect to top up between $40 to $60 for free flow alcohol at your brunch.

How Much Does Champagne Typically Cost In Singapore?

Usually, the most expensive alcohol offered by champagne brunches tends to be champagne. To find out how much the champagne you are drinking costs you.

Here are the champagne prices listed on Fairprice Online. All champagne bottles listed are 750ml.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne – Brut: $78.80

Veuve Clicquot Champagne-  Rose: $99

Moet & Chandon Champagne – Imperial: $65

Moet & Chandon Champagne – Brut: $129 for 2 bottles

Taittinger Champagne – Brut Reserve: $79

Given that an average bottle of Champagne can fill 5 full-pour glasses, you can use this to calculate how many glasses of champagne you need to drink to break even. By a general rule of thumb, you should expect to drink at least three-quarters of a bottle of champagne for your top up to be worth it.

However, if you are comparing with the ala-carte price charged within the restaurant, where a single glass of champagne can go for over $30, topping up the difference for free flow alcohol is likely to be worth it.

Factors To Consider When Evaluating Whether It Is Worth It

Diminishing Marginal Utility

Diminishing marginal utility refers to the concept that you derive less satisfaction for every additional unit of the same product. While the first glass of champagne can provide high utility, the marginal utility tends to decrease for subsequent glasses. Your second glass of champagne typically provides less satisfaction than your first glass of champagne.

Hence, even though the champagne brunch offers all-you-can-drink, you will likely stop consuming when your marginal utility of an additional glass drops to zero.

If you are merely chugging down champagne to get your money’s worth, it might defeat the purpose of going for the buffet in the first place, which was to have an enjoyable dining experience.

You Eat Less

According to Drinkaware, drinking carbonated drinks and alcohol can bloat your stomach. Bubbly drinks like champagne can make you feel fuller faster. This means you will likely eat less than if you had opted for the non-alcoholic option, making it harder for you to break even.

Some alcoholic drinks don’t go down well with certain food items, which means you might be depriving yourself from trying certain dishes. According to this Bloomberg article, champagne doesn’t go down well with sweet desserts, which means you might have to give the cakes a pass.

Variety Of Alcohol

While champagne is usually the most expensive alcoholic drink offered, the buffet can be a good opportunity for you to try out a large variety of alcoholic beverages.

Given that an average cocktail at a bar goes for over $20, the champagne brunch is a good way to discover your favourite drink, so that you know what to order the next time you visit a bar.

Time Limit For Brunches

The average champagne brunch usually has a time limit between three to four hours. Realistically speaking, downing a whole bottle of champagne in one sitting isn’t as easy as it looks, as your liver can only handle about 10 grams of alcohol an hour.

On the other hand, if you buy a bottle of champagne to drink at home, you don’t have to finish it in one sitting, making it easier to swallow.

Read Also: What Eating At A Buffet Can Teach Us About Personal Finance

Alternative Ways To Get Your Fill Of Alcohol

In every champagne brunch, there is already a wide variety of fine dishes offered.

You need to decide for yourself how much free flow alcohol can enhance what is already a luxurious dining experience. If pairing your food with alcohol will greatly enhance your champagne brunch experience, it may be justified for you to top up.

However, if you are going to a champagne brunch with the sole purpose of drinking, it is unlikely you will ever break even given that a champagne brunch is priced at over $100 per pax. There are cheaper ways to get your alcohol fix.

You can consider going for a liquid buffet, which usually costs less than $50. While most liquid buffets don’t include expensive champagne, they offer a decent variety of alcoholic beverages including spirits and wine.

If champagne is something you really enjoy, buying a bottle doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. According to Spirited Singapore, from now till 30 June 2018, Duty Free Singapore (DFS) Changi is absorbing all duties and taxes for wines, champagnes and sake for non-travellers.  There is even free delivery provided if you spend over $250. Now that’s something worth raising your glass too.

Read Also: Why Are Mooncakes So Expensive? (And Why Do We Still Buy Them?)