How to Make Money by Making People Drunk


During my sophomore year at Columbia, my friend Peter and I decided to take the student-run Columbia Bartending Agency’s mixology course. We paid $200 for the opportunity to get drunk by 7PM on Thursdays as well as learn to make some drinks. In preparation for the agency’s final exam for certification, Peter and I decided to throw a bar tending party in my room. My roommate was worried about my hosting a loud party in a alcohol-free dorm building and selling alcohol to minors, but I persuaded him by assuring that I would enforce his list of regulations below (which I drew up):

  1. These are not Matt’s rules.
  2. Matt doesn’t know about this event.
  3. Don’t go through Matt’s shit.
  4. Don’t steal Matt’s shit.
  5. Don’t pour drinks on Matt’s shit.
  6. Don’t attract the attention of public safety.
  7. No orgies, “but if one will inevitable arise, you must call me [Matt].”
  8. Don’t mess up Matt’s drawings.
  9. No trying to sniff through Matt’s dirty laundry.
  10. No carnal knowledge on Matt’s bed.
  11. Every guest must go through a background check with Matt.
  12. For tonight, Matt doesn’t live here.

We called it David’s Café Américain and charged every guest a $5 all-you-can-drink cover. The fee went towards buying the liquor, which isn’t cheap in Manhattan. Most people paid. Amazingly, we actually made a profit at the end of the night. It reminded me of one of the Great Brain’s money-making schemes.


$6 (ice, mint)
$24 (grenadine, Rose’s Lime, grapefruit, 5 limes, 2 lemons, lime juice, lemon juice)
$56 (tequila, light rum, vodka, kahlua, triple sec)
$86 total

$27 David
$18 Peter
$45 total

Profit Margin

We kept our customers happy by offering a wide selection of drinks (see menu at bottom). Our profit margin came from pilfering a dozen 1-liter Nalgene bottles worth of free mixers (soda, seltzer, fruit juices, milk), cups, napkins, and sugar from our campus dining hall.

We tried to replicate our success a second time but weren’t so lucky. We charged girls $3 and guys $5 and ended up in the black. But our profits were paltry.







  • Screwdriver
  • Greyhound
  • Salty Dog
  • Cape Codder
  • Sea breeze
  • Madras
  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Rickey
  • Bloody Mary
  • Bloody Maria


  • Mojitos
  • Mint julep
  • Vodka Gimlet


  • Cosmopolitan
  • Ruby Martini

Shaken Drinks

  • Sours
  • Collins
  • Daiquiri
  • Bacardi cocktail
  • Margarita
  • Long Island Iced Tea
  • Acapulco


  • Kamikaze
  • Mission Accomplished
  • Lemon Drop
  • Prairie Fire

Cream Drinks

  • White Russian
  • Sombrero

Floaters/Pousse Cafes

  • King Alphonse


  • Black Russian
  • Brave Bull
  • Russian Turkey