Drink prices rise at low- and high-end restaurants, survey finds. Not so much in the middle

If you’re a cheapskate drinking man who enjoys the odd drop in restaurants and saloons, mid-market venues might well qualify as the best budget-conscious choice.

Over the six-month period that ended April 30, drink prices at casual dining restaurants and mid-market night clubs have mostly held steady, according to a sales analysis by Restaurant Sciences LLC, a Newton firm that tracks the restaurant and bar industry.

The top and bottom segments of America’s eating and drinking establishments, in contrast, “have seen a significant increase in average spirit and cocktail prices over the past six months,” the firm said.

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The firm’s survey found that restaurants with an average party check under $40, as well as those with average checks more than $90, have seen the average price paid by consumers rise by between 4.5 percent and 11.2 percent, with the biggest increases coming at the lowest end of the market.

In a statement, Restaurant Sciences president Chuck Ellis offered his analysis of the data.

“We looked at a sub-sample from our database of approximately 100 million drink purchases across the USA, and we believe that the increasing price of spirits is the result of a mix of moderate price-taking by operators in the upper and lower tiers, combined with some upward product migration or experimentation by consumers,” Ellis said. “Independent restaurant operators are driving the spirits’ increases, since the chains are far more prevalent in midscale csual dining where prices are holding steady.”