Snatch the Pebble from My Hand, Grasshopper!
Tyler Cowen teaches Ezra Klein one of the arcana imperii:
Ezra Klein: Drinking Strategies: I'm not yet finished with my copy of Tyler Cowen's Discovering Your Inner Economist (it's very good, though!), so maybe this is included deeper into the book. But given that Cowen upholds that expensive drinks subsidizes food, particularly at fine restaurants where they make hefty margins off wine, etc, do we have any data on what the average mark-up is? If it's high, presumably the most cost-effective strategy be to forego drinking in fine establishments -- what you can't get at home is such fine cooking, and this way it's being subsidized for you. If it's relatively modest, there's certainly some added utility, even if it's partly imagined, to pairing a nice meal with good drink, so maybe it's worth it...
Alas, my highly favorable review of Discovering Your Inner Economist is still in the editorial process at the Chronicle of Higher Education.
But I will say that I did once try to convince Bob Hall at a restaurant in Palo Alto not to order wine: the fact that the wine would cost four times retail would, I said, depress me and lower my utility. Even though I wasn't paying for it, I would still feel as though I was being cheated, and as I drank the wine that would depress me more than the wine would please me.
He had two responses: (i) "You really are crazy." (ii) "Think, instead, that it's coming straight out of the Hoover Institution endowment, and order two bottles."