A waitress makes her way through a crowded outdoor patio with her arms up in a victory pose like Rocky. It looks like she has fireworks coming out of each fist, but they're actually bottles of top-shelf liquor with ignited sparklers attached. She heads to a private area where stylishly attired people eagerly await her arrival with a bucket of chilled ice, carafes of juice and freshly cut fruit at the ready.
This is what goes on beyond the velvet rope in the VIP section at 10 on the Park in East Meadow, one of several places on Long Island where bottle service is a way of life.
"Bottle service is the first-class seat on the plane, and the rest of the club is business class and coach," says Brian Rosenberg, promoter and co-owner of 10 on the Park. "Basically, you are treated like gold."
VIPs order bottles of vodka, tequila and Champagne, which are lavishly presented by a waitress, while all amenities get replenished by a waiter assisting her.
However, bottle service is not just about mixing drinks but staking claim to an exclusive area of a club with your entourage for the evening, which should include a designated driver.
"There's no standing at the bar, fighting for drinks. You kind of have your own private party within the party," says VIP client Adam Ascher, 43, of Cove Neck, who works in commercial real estate. "You pay a bit more for the service and the experience, but it's well worth it."
At 10 on the Park, the most popular bottles range from $200 to $295, and each VIP area requires a two-bottle minimum plus a 20 percent gratuity with a limit of four to six people per bottle.
In addition to the exclusivity of the seating area, the bonus of bottle service is about having the ability to pour your own drinks.
People light up as Richie Pedone works the crowd. The VIP director-host can't go 10 feet without giving someone a hug or a kiss. Pedone's the guy who books all the VIP tables and gets the party going.
"Richie knows how to make everybody feel like he's their best friend. The difference is he's not spinning, he's for real," says Rosenberg. "He's a throwback to the Rat Pack days, when charm was king."
Pedone, who is a doppelganger for Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, has a permanent smile on his face. But he's not just a glad-hander, he's the franchise at 10 on the Park.
"I only do bottle service with Richie. Wherever he goes, that's where I go," says VIP client Mike Conti, 35, of East Islip, who works as a mechanic. "I've had bottle service at other places, but I don't really like it. It's not the same. Richie does it right."
When asked what his magic touch is, Pedone says, "My job is to make everybody feel like they are at home. I'm friends with every one of my VIPs. I go to every single table, have a drink and talk. Then I go check on everybody 10 times a night."
It's up to Pedone to decide where every VIP is situated and he makes sure it all runs like clockwork.
"It's delicate where you put people," says Pedone. "I never put two groups of guys together. I try to mix it up."
With bottle service, Long Islanders get the opportunity to roll like A-list celebrities for an evening.
"It's about the whole experience. The bottle is the last thing that's important. It's the excuse," says Rosenberg. "The red carpet treatment is what it's all about."
THESE CLUBS ALSO ARE ON THE ICE BUCKET LIST
Bottle service has been popping up at clubs all over Long Island, and often happens on a specific night each week or is tied to a particular theme or special event. And though the definition of bottle service may vary from club to club, each venue has a common bond -- giving patrons the chance to be treated like VIPs.
"For those who are impatient and want to feel exclusive, bottle service is the quickest way to open the red ropes," says Greg Pranzo, co-promotional director of Liquid Mondays, the VIP night at Woodbury Country Club. "Another reason is you have your own area for your party. Rather than bumping into other guests in a packed club or lounge, you will have space for your group."
* At Liquid Mondays, guests can select VIP indoor tables around the perimeter of the dance floor, or secure a VIP cabana next to the pool. The minimum bottle prices are $275 for Grey Goose or Ketel One vodka, and each table can have only four people per bottle. (Call 516-633-8963 for reservations.)
* At Body English on Tuesdays at Chateau Briand, 440 Old Country Rd., Carle Place, there's an $800 minimum per VIP area, which can range from cabanas to tables around a reflection pool. However, the minimum fee can be used on food items such as sushi rolls and filet mignon sliders in addition to bottles. (Call 516-398-8777 for reservations, bodyenglishtuesdays.com)
* The Emporium, 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue, offers bottle service during concerts and club-themed nights. The VIP areas are located to the left, right and across from the stage, as well as in the dining room. VIPs must order a minimum of one bottle per five people with prices ranging from $250 to $650. (Call 631-275-6200 for reservations, theemporiumny.com)
-- Ian J. Stark and David J. Criblez