Whiskey tasting before concerts? One way to exclude the under-21s…

Whiskey tasting before concerts? One way to exclude the under-21s…


norman lebrecht

April 26, 2018

We love the sound of New York’s Catacomb concerts.

We love it even more that patrons are invited to sample single malts before the show, all the more helpful since much of the content is contemporary music.

We love it that Glyndebourne’s winner Samantha Hankey has been signed up for a debut.

The drawback?

PLEASE NOTE: Ticketholders must be 21 years or older. Tickets are $80, $75.

Must be some local bye-law

Full details here.


  • Sharon says:

    It’s not a local law, it’s a national law!

    Over 30 years ago the US federal government required that states raise their drinking age to 21 as a condition for receiving federal highway funds. Most or all states did so; certainly New York State did. It is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 21.

    In a reception of this type for which tickets are sold the historical society could be accused of selling alcohol to minors. If alcohol is being served by waiters instead of at a bar they would have to request ID to verify if the prospective imbiber was of age if there is reason for doubt, as they would also have to do at a bar. If bottles of alcohol are left on a table this would also be difficult.

    In a regular restaurant the bill, which in the US is called the check, is presented to an adult at the table but this is not possible if tickets are prepaid. This is why most fund raising receptions have a cash bar where it is easier to request ID if necessary

    No non profit group which is dependent on donations and government grants which the Greenwood Cemetery historical society certainly is, would dare risk the negative publicity of being accused of selling alcohol to minors when there is to be “no winking about underage drinking” or even, if a member to the community or a community group wanted to make a stink about it, risk the pressing of criminal charges.

  • We’re just worried the kids will clap at the wrong time during the whiskey tasting and ruin it for everyone…

  • CYM says:

    Original idea ! I would opt for a flight of Whisky Korsakov …

  • Geoff says:

    I was just recently made aware that the ticket prices at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam includes frees drinks at the intermission. A great idea. All the ticket holders were in the grey haired generation. Great music and an excellent intermission. Nobody under 21, pity.

    • Sue says:

      I didn’t know this! When I went I remained in my seat during the break because of the crowds.

      • Geoff says:

        You missed out. The free drinks encouraged good conversation at my recent visit. My experience at other concerts is many people just standing around waiting for the buzzer to signal them to return to their seats. Could never line up for over-priced drinks in plastic cups, real glasses at the Concertgebouw.

  • Rgiarola says:

    EXCLUDE THE UNDER-21S. I went to college in the USA decades ago. Under-21s always find a way to avoid this rule. Prohibition is the word that makes everything more interesting for young people, since it is a plus. They can get drunk and also disobey a law.

    That’s the society that I’ve been seen more teens drunks.

    • Sharon says:

      It’s one thing for an underage person to take a drink if it’s available at a party at college. It’s another thing to have to by a ticket in advance and take the change that someone may request ID at the door.

  • James says:

    Carnegie Hall has been running a program for years linked to it’s Zankel Hall concerts that start late (post-9 PM starts, I think) where the first couple of hundred arrivals get a free drink. Nice touch.

  • Boris says:

    Stamp their hands with an X (unable to drink) or an O (able to drink) at the door. Clubs in New York, and elsewhere, have been doing it since the 1980’s and this sounds like it’s a special event permit, which allows this sort of action, I believe.

  • Bruce says:

    The ticket prices look like a much more effective way to exclude the under-21 crowd.

    • Geoff says:

      This weekend concert in the Royal Concertgebouw has prices starting at 18.50 Euros,(?US$) cheaper than most rock concerts. And it has the finest acoustics you could ever wish for.(plus those free drinks)

      • Rgiarola says:

        Yes GEOFF. Plus no one ask your ID, for boose or other regular things of the city. Why they call USA the land of freedom? Pure Marketing.

    • Sixtus says:

      For the price of just one of those tickets one could take two friends along to a movie and have enough funds left over for at least half a bag of popcorn. And, unless the film is a period piece, and not even always then, given the haste in which Hollywood composers have to compose the soundtrack music is bound to be literally contemporary. It’s clear where I’d spend my entertainment dollars.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    My hand was stamped on more than one occasion in the 1970’s in Ohio when I was 26 and working in a summer camp! I think some states had a limit of 18 too.

  • Gary says:

    For the Friday Casual series, the LA Phil gives out free wine before the concert and free beer after the show. The beer is better than the wine.

  • John Borstlap says:

    When Sally went up to the Huddersfield festivals she used to get tipsy beforehand to get in the right mood. And she always came back in good spirits, although her work suffered considerably in the consecutive days.

    (According to her text messages, she has landed in the only spot of France where it rains all day. She says she strongly misses SD and the locals don’t speak English. She will move to a small hotel in Carcasse-sans-Gêne today and apologises for not offering enlightened comments.)