Thanksgiving Etiquette Question, Can I ask For The Bottle Back?
November 23, 2016 3:55 PM   Subscribe

We have been invited by friends of friends, to a fun, non traditional, Thanksgiving dinner. I was asked to bring Red Wine, which I am. I am also bringing my homemade Prickly Pear/Jalapeno Lemonade and a bottle of tequila to mix with it should anyone desire. The tequila is an expensive brand in a really cool bottle. I would not spend this much on tequila normally, and I would love to make something out of the bottle when its finished. Can I take the bottle back with me when I leave, or can I ask for the empty bottle to be saved for for me when its finally been finished, or is that just a total manners fail? I am pretty much a recluse normally, and have zero experience with dinner parties. Please help me behave like a civilized guest (even if I'm only faking it for the night).
posted by WalkerWestridge to Human Relations (48 answers total)
I'd just say upfront "Hey, I really splurged on the tequila and want the bottle when we've drunk it, because I have ... plans." That's totally legit in my book.
posted by straw at 3:58 PM on November 23, 2016 [18 favorites]

Not sure the etiquette, but if it was me I would try to have it come up organically. Like host says "wow, what a cool bottle!" And you say "yeah, I have a great idea to use it in a craft project" and they can either say "I'll save it for you!" In which case,you can take it. Or "ooh yeah, I have a great shelf it can go on" in which case, they want it. But I'm a passive aggressive "guesser" when it comes to social interaction, so maybe someone has a tactful way for you to ask to keep it.
posted by katypickle at 3:59 PM on November 23, 2016

I think you can ask for the empty bottle back if they don't want it - like say "if you are just going to recycle the bottle, hang on to it for me instead, it's cool and I can make something pretty out of it"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:59 PM on November 23, 2016 [17 favorites]

Sure! I think that's totally fine – especially if you express a reason with a bit of emotion, inferred or stated, on why it's important to you. Example dialogue: "Hey, save that bottle for me, if you would! I was planning on doing xyz and being crafty with it :)"
posted by a good beginning at 4:00 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would just pre-mix the lemonade & tequila, and leave the bottle at home.
posted by wearyaswater at 4:02 PM on November 23, 2016 [121 favorites]

Is it the one with a cactus inside? Blue glass? Anyway just ask them to save it, no one I know would consider that odd. If you insisted they immediately decant it into a mason jar so you could be sure of getting the bottle - that would be weird.
posted by fixedgear at 4:06 PM on November 23, 2016

I really wouldn't. It would kill me too but I wouldn't. A gift is a gift.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:07 PM on November 23, 2016 [15 favorites]

If you really want the bottle, you should not share it. Bring the tequila in alrernate bottle/flask.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:08 PM on November 23, 2016 [41 favorites]

The tequila isn't a gift. The wine is a gift. Bring the tequila in a bag and bring it out separately from the wine, don't present it to them, tell them you're doing something with the bottle and you plan to take it with you when you leave.
posted by The Monkey at 4:10 PM on November 23, 2016 [19 favorites]

The only way to do this is to bring the tequila in a different bottle or cocktail shaker or something. I don't think you should ask for a cool part of a gift back. If you don't want to do that then I think you should serve the tequila to guests in your own home.

I totally understand your pickle. I wouldn't know what to do either.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:17 PM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

What you should do is get a slightly less good bottle of tequila in a less interesting bottle and bring that to the party.
posted by General Malaise at 4:18 PM on November 23, 2016 [70 favorites]

I wouldn't do it. My friends wouldn't mind my asking, but there's going to be unfinished tequila and it's too easy for the bottle to get thrown out at a later date when you're not there. I might buy a good, moderately-priced bottle of 100% agave tequila and bring that. Here is one web site that has a list of good ones; I googled "best tequila under $25."

But if I WERE going to do it, I'd communicate with the host beforehand, probably with humor, so I wouldn't have to explain anything when they have their hands full with guests and entertaining. I don't see anything wrong with doing this with friends. If the host isn't a pretty good friend, do what ThePinkSuperhero suggested and transer the tequila to another bottle, maybe a wine bottle.
posted by wryly at 4:24 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Get a cheaper tequila in a smaller, non-cool bottle and bring that instead.
posted by Lycaste at 4:24 PM on November 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I would get a less-expensive/cool bottle of tequila to share, especially since you're planning to mix it with some other strong flavors, so the expensiveness/fanciness of the tequila is not as important as it otherwise would be if you were drinking it straight.
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:24 PM on November 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

I wouldn't. The tequila is a gift for the hosts(unlike the wine, which they asked you to bring). If they were close friends, I might(?) ask for the bottle back anyway if they were just going to toss it but you said "friends of friends", so I'd err on being a little more formal here. Sorry.
posted by eeek at 4:25 PM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

It is weird to ask for the bottle back. Mostly because you can avoid bringing it at all easily.
posted by so fucking future at 4:26 PM on November 23, 2016 [10 favorites]

Why would you want to give somebody extra work? They're already probably putting in quite a bit of work to make a nice evening, and now they have to remember to save a bottle for you or give it back later? If you were my friend, I'd probably be a little bummed to be given a chore by a guest.
posted by smirkyfodder at 4:35 PM on November 23, 2016 [14 favorites]

Jose Cuervo Tradicional is a good reasonably cheap tequila (recommended by Mexican friends, too). I drink the reposado. I think I pay $17 and stuff's expensive here. You're mixing this with something strong flavored, so you don't want anything expensive anyway! (Stay away from the Jose Cuervo Especial, that stuff's nasty.)

That is, sidestep the awkwardness and just bring cheaper tequila as a mixer.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:36 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Is this the Esperanza bottle? Do not mix that tequila with anything; that is mad awesome sipping tequila. Keep it at home and bring something else.
posted by cyndigo at 4:37 PM on November 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I've been to parties where people bring the components of the dish, and then just assemble it there. If you don't want to use the entire bottle of tequila in your lemonade, and you want to keep the bottle, I'd just do the following:

1. Bring everything to the party.
2. Mix the components there in two different pitchers/serving containers.
3. Pack the rest of the tequila, along with the original bottle, away into your belongings.
4. Boldly label which lemonade has the tequila, and which does not.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:44 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I agree with straw. I guess it's up to you to judge the dispositions of the people putting on this dinner, since it sounds like from the responses here that people can be way more prickly about this type of thing than I imagined, but if you came to my house and were like "yo I brought you this tequila but the bottle is fucken sweet and I wanna do some art shit with it" I'd be like "nice" and then we'd all get befuddled on some tequila lemonade
posted by invitapriore at 5:04 PM on November 23, 2016 [11 favorites]

WalkerWestridge says that they are bringing the fancy tequila along with some homemade lemonade to share with anyone who wants some. That doesn't sound like a host gift to me, it sounds like bringing something really yummy and awesome to share with new friends. In my group of friends it is totally normal for people to bring fancy alcohol, cheese, fruit, etc. to share and then take whatever is left home with them when they leave. In fact, my friends often ask people "did you get the rest of your..." as they leave a party. But reading some of the responses above, I suspect this may not be the norm in some social circles, and that there are people who may see it as weird or rude. I also think there's a high probability that your bottle will get recycled by mistake if you ask them to save it for you. Spinifex23's suggestion is a great way to bring the pretty bottle of very nice tequila to share and also to ensure that your bottle makes it home with you. If it's really nice tequila some people may want to do shots though, so I'd be open to that if you're going to have the bottle with you.
posted by ezrainch at 5:04 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Unfortunately I don't think you can do this without being rude. It's making work for your host to ask them to keep track of the bottle.

The solution is just to bring a bottle of a less interesting tequila. It's just for mixing anyway!
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:04 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Friends of friends? I'd make two batches of your cocktail at home, one virgin, one not, and keep the bottle there. If the host was a close friend, it'd probably be fine, but with acquaintance/FOF-level in play, eh, don't make things complicated for a host you don't know all that well.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 5:05 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just a reminder that if the OP will be going to the party in a car, it may be illegal to have the tequila in the car once it has been opened. This will obviously vary by location. If it is illegal, this would make it illegal both to bring home a half-finished bottle or to pour the tequila into another container to take.

I vote for take a cheaper less interesting bottle, even if other options are legal.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:09 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

As the answers above would appear to demonstrate, this is a highly micro-culture specific question. I have been in circles where this would be incredibly gauche, and I've been in circles where the host would ask you if you wanted your bottle back. To be fair, "non-traditional Thanksgiving" makes me think you're heading into a situation more towards the latter end of the spectrum.

In conclusion tequila bottles is a land of contrasts.
posted by PMdixon at 5:10 PM on November 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

Here is a wikipedia map of US laws on open containers in cars. Blue means no open containers in the passenger compartment of cars. And add to the list of options made illegal by this: pre-mixing the lemonade at home.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:12 PM on November 23, 2016

Good sipping tequila does not get mixed into lemonade. Buy a less special bottle for mixing. Keep your special bottle all to yourself! (Or invite me over.)
posted by 26.2 at 5:18 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think this would be odd for three reasons:
-they're not your closest friends so you don't know if they'd be cool with this kind of request. It may make a bad impression.

-it's not a normal party. Thanksgiving is an enormous expense with days worth of cooking, plus set-up and clean-up. Many people find it stressful but if you're the host you also have to appear not to be stressed, even when your guests throw requests at you that require extra work and thought, which most of them will. Always best to make things easiest on the hosts.

-good booze is not for mixed drinks.

In general, don't bring stuff to gift or share you aren't willing to part with (parties get chaotic regardless of good intentions and stuff gets lost/thrown out by drunk people trying to help) and don't bring gifts that require more labor from the hosts.
posted by kapers at 5:24 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah this is why "travelers" aka smaller plastic bottles of booze were invented. Keep your good stuff at home and bring some Cuervo!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:24 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

yes, absolutely.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:28 PM on November 23, 2016

Do not use good sipping Tequila in a cocktail! That's the real faux pas here!!

Get a decent tequila and bring that. It's the best way to handle this in every respect.
posted by jbenben at 5:34 PM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

This might be threadsitting but Cuervo is out of the question. The tequilla has to at least be good enough not to make everybody sick/give them a hellacious hangover, also it has to be good enough that I will enjoy drinking it. Thanks so much for all of these responses!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 5:35 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

This might be threadsitting but Cuervo is out of the question. The tequilla has to at least be good enough not to make everybody sick/give them a hellacious hangover, also it has to be good enough that I will enjoy drinking it.

No seriously. Jose Cuervo Tradicional is good enough to drink straight; it's our go-to house tequila, and that's how mostly I drink it. (I know, I was suspicious too, but we vacationed on the west coast of Mexico with some Mexican friends last spring, and that's what they bought. And it's absolutely decent. The labels in Mexico suggest you keep it in the freezer, which is good too.) And I don't even mix with the Especial.

(But there are lots of decent tequilas at ~$20/bottle. So pick some other one if you'd prefer.)
posted by leahwrenn at 5:51 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Fill a big glass jar with the tequila and label it. Maybe use a few small ones if that makes it easier to pour. Keep the bottle at home.

If you were my guest, and you took the tequila back home, I would think nothing of it, but I see that not everyone feels the same way. If you asked me if you could have the empty bottle back for art reasons I would immediately put the bottle in your hands because I wouldn't want the responsibility of remembering or it getting lost or broken at our house.
posted by Pearl928 at 5:52 PM on November 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Bring a SEPARATE host/hostess gift, hand it to them, tell them explicitly that is for them to do whatever it is they want to do with it, either serve it then, save it for themselves. That is the gift, not something they asked you to bring. Bring the drinks you are sharing and contributing to the feast and pack those up to bring home when you're done. That's my etiquette answer.
posted by girlhacker at 5:52 PM on November 23, 2016

I would put most of the tequila in something temporary like a mason jar and leave it at home, taking just the amount you intend to mix for your punch. Make a little show of mixing at the party so people can see that you brought the good shit in the fancy bottle, then stash the empty away in your bag or whatever you use to transport your stuff. If the hosts offer to recycle it for you just say you're going to do a craft project with it. Then when you get home return the jar of tequila to the bottle.
posted by mannequito at 5:57 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Assuming you are spending the holiday with people who like you, sure, why not? I probably wouldn't do this if I were meeting my partner's family for the first time, or having Thanksgiving at the White House, but yeah assuming it's just us folks, why not?

I hosted Thanksgiving last year and people were all over the map in terms of stuff like this. We had people who took their unopened bottle of wine home with them at the end of the night (rude IMO), and people who left dishes who then never identified themselves ever again (happy to babysit their serving bowl forever).

I would probably frame it as "So this random, but I was really hoping to use this bottle in a craft project. Would you mind giving it to me when it's empty?" rather than just sneaking the mostly full bottle back at the end of the night.
posted by Sara C. at 6:45 PM on November 23, 2016

Any solution involving leaving the half-empty bottle and asking to have it back when it's empty should take into account that you have no idea how long this would be. As an infrequent drinker with friends who are infrequent drinkers I have bottles in my pantry that have been there for about 10 years. It would be longer, but I moved between countries 10 years ago, and couldn't bring the 7 year-old bottles I had accumulated since the last time I moved countries. If you a half-empty bottle of tequila at my house, you'd be looking at 15-20 years before you got an empty bottle back.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:55 PM on November 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

You are 100% overthinking this. The wine is for the party, the tequila is extra. Just take your bottle home, with or without leftover tequila in it. I would not expect someone who brought extra alcohol that I didn't specifically ask for to share not to leave with it.
posted by Marinara at 7:00 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would absolutely take the bottle home, empty or not. It's essentially a condiment for your potluck-esque (in a good way!) lemonade.
posted by teremala at 7:03 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would think nothing of asking for the bottle back, myself, nor would I find it strange if someone asked the same of me if I were hosting. If that is something that would lower someone's opinion of me from that point on,, I'd be like "ok then......"
posted by wats at 7:36 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fun, non-traditional, and you were requested to contribute red wine? I would think nothing if you asked for the bottle back (or just took it home), I'd think if it like a serving dish at a potluck. You could double check with your friends to see if they have a read on the host about this sort of thing.

If you wanted to be safe, bring a separate host gift (besides the wine for serving) and be sure to present it separately. Not in an elaborate way, but "This if for you, thank you for the invite. Here's the red wine for dinner, and I brought some lemonade/tequila to share. Yeah, the bottle is so cool, I'm going to X with it."
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:34 PM on November 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

As mentioned above, this is being hosted by friends of friends, so unless you know them well, you can't know how they would react.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:32 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think spinifex has it above - get the bottle, but only take along the exact amount you need in a mason jar or something.

Or, even better, get two cheap swingtop bottles at Ikea and make it into a host gift - decant the tequila into one bottle, decant the lemonade into another bottle, and hang a tag off each one saying which is which - or get some write-on wipe-off labels from a craft store and write the names on that way.

That way, you get the bottle YOU want, your host has something to serve and they can keep the bottles for something themselves if THEY want, and eveyrone's happy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 AM on November 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

For the record, open container laws do not prevent open bottles of tequila from being transported in the trunk of the car.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:56 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

what did you end up doing?
posted by anthropomorphic at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2016

I just took the whole bottle and left it there. I figure another cool bottle will come along someday, somehow.

Thanks very much to everyone who left an answer!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:56 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

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