Liquor lockers are revolutionizing how the elite have a nightcap

A man sampling a drink at a bar while smiling at a bartender.
Bottle keeps are becoming popular in the luxury-hospitality space.The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
  • Liquor lockers are also commonly known as "bottle keeps."

  • In the luxury-hospitality industry, they're becoming popular among regular patrons.

  • A venue manager told Business Insider that having a rare bottle in the locker is a status symbol.

Liquor lockers, also known as "bottle keeps," are popping up in bars and members' clubs across the globe.

They allow patrons to buy a bottle of alcohol and store it at the establishment for a later date.

Exclusive members' clubs are continuing to gain widespread traction in the luxury-hospitality space; Soho House & Co Inc. said its total members in the third quarter of 2023 grew by 20.8% year over year.

But to some clientele, these clubs aren't exclusive enough.

Liquor lockers provide a home away from home

The Whiskey Locker at The Other House resident's club in South Kensington, London.
The Whiskey Locker at The Other House resident's club in South Kensington, London.Priya Raj / Business Insider

James Semenowycz, the director of brand and PR at The Other House, a residents' club in London, told Business Insider its whisky locker is designed to help clients feel at home.

There's likely something homely about drinking from your own bottle at your favorite bar rather than ordering a drink off the menu from a member of the waitstaff.

Liam Simmons, the bar manager at the Silverleaf bar in the Pan Pacific London hotel, told BI their bottle-keep membership costs £1,000, or about $1,270, annually.

He added that the membership comes with a bottle of single-malt whisky and a Tom Dixon keyring for your locker key.

He said most of their bottle-keep clientele work in the local area.

"It makes Silverleaf an easy stop-off point on their journey home from work," Simmons told BI.

Bottle keeps are somewhat of an "if you know, you know" service in the hospitality world. Establishments such as The Vault in Edinburgh, Scotland, only offer them to its members, while any patron at Silverleaf can partake, albeit with a high price tag.

'It's a bit of a status thing,' venue manager Kyle Gow says

A stack of wooden cupboards with glass windows in a yellow room.
One of the bottle keeps at The Vaults in Edinburgh, Scotland.The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Kyle Gow, a manager at The Vault, a members-only venue, told BI that some of their members use their bottle-keep service to impress guests and business clients.

"Some people want to show off what they've got. People are more likely to buy a more expensive bottle to put in the bottle keep," he said.

"It's a bit of a status thing," Gow said, adding that clients purchase desirable bottles of whisky that they can later flex to friends trying to buy the same ones.

"We've had members buy some exclusive bottles, come in and do exactly that — show off," he added.

Gow said it's also a way for establishments such as these to get to know their clientele better. He added that a regular client is always looking for the next bottle to put in their locker so they don't lose their space.

"We'd keep an eye on his bottle for him and as soon as we knew it was getting low we'd be like, 'This is what we think for the next one,'" he said.

Though the venue has 120 spaces for bottles, Gow told BI that they've been extremely popular, and the venue is quickly running out of space. But the global rise of liquor lockers means there are plenty of options to choose from.

The Vault in San Francisco and The Flatiron Room in New York both have extensive whiskey collections waiting to be kept under lock and key.

The luxury of choice

Gow told BI that most of their clientele know what they like to drink, so it can be more economical for them to buy a bottle than individual servings.

He added that an average bottle of whisky can cost £75, plus £30 to keep a bottle in the locker for six months, which adds up to about $130.

He said there are roughly 28 servings of whisky in an average-size bottle, which, if purchased individually, would cost around £273, or about $350.

But for the clientele dropping thousands on memberships at members' clubs around the world, the few hundred dollars they save with a bottle keep likely isn't their reason for doing so.

When talking about luxury travel or hospitality, "choice" is an overused buzzword.

In the case of the bottle keep, not everyone needs — or wants — a choice.

Read the original article on Business Insider