Bar Etiquette: Drink Prices
Don't ask for free drinks and don't expect free drinks
Bartenders are not suppose to give free drinks to anybody. Giving out free drinks, it's consider stealing. The bartender could get fired for giving free drinks. A bar owner can press charges on a bartender for stealing (giving free drinks). Don't ask for any free drinks. Don't compromise the bartender's job over a free drink.
This includes any birthdays. Don't come to the bar saying, "it's my birthday!" expecting to get a free drink. There are no free drinks. Ask your friends to buy you a drink on your birthday, not the bartender.
Other Employees: Band members, DJs, go-go dancers, valet parking people, etc. don't get free drinks either. You might get a free soda, but not any alcoholic beverages. There might be an exception in some establishments, so ask management about it.
Note: If you get a free drink for any reason, make sure you leave a good tip.
Personal Experience: In all my years of bartending, my real friends have never asked me for a free drink. Thank you!
Don't say, "it's on the house"
If a bartender makes a wrong drink, don't say, "it's on the house!" expecting to get it for free. The bartender will remake your drink, but his is not suppose to give you the mistake. Don't ask him to give it to you for free. Let him decide what to do with the mistake.
Many times the bartender will give you the mistake, but don't ask for it. If you ask for it, you might not get it. If the bartender decides to give you the mistake, make sure you leave a good tip.
Don't pretend that you don't have enough money
Don't go to the bartender and ask him, "what can I get with this $x.xx? May I get a mixed drink?" If you don't have enough money, the answer is no. Don't try to convince that bartender that you only have $x.xx and that you really want a drink. Sorry, there are no discounts. Many times when the customer fails to convince the bartender, he/she pulls money out of nowhere (socks, shoes, boobs, etc.) or he/she asks a friend for money.
Note: If you don't have enough money to pay for a drink, most likely you don't have money to leave a tip. A bartender is not going to give you a discount when you are not going to leave a tip.
Don't ask for a discount
Don't ask the bartender to give you a discount. There are no discounts. Don't say, "I only have $x.xx (not enough for a drink). May I get this drink. Come on! I tipped you well." Do you expect the bartender to give you a discount just because you tipped well? You are suppose to tip for the service not because you want to get something out of it (like a free drink or discount).
If you get a drink ticket, don't assume you can get the most expensive drink
If you get a drink ticket, ask the bartender what drinks can you get with the ticket. Don't assume that a drink ticket is worth for any drink. Don't start asking for premium drinks assuming that the tickets will cover them. Most of the time, a drink ticket is worth for a beer, a wine, a well drink and sometimes a call drink. Drink tickets are usually not good for premium drinks.
Note: Don't forget to tip. You just got a free drink. The least you can do is tip.
Don't complain about prices to the bartender
Unless the bartender is also the bar owner, don't complain about prices to the bartender. Bartenders don't set the drink prices. They also don't make a profit from what they sale. They make their money from the tips that they get from the customers.
Don't complain to the bartender about the fliers
Bartenders don't make the fliers. Fliers are made by managers or promoters. Unfortunately, sometimes promoters make mistakes when making the fliers. They sometimes come up with drink specials that shouldn't be there. So, if a flier says something about drink specials and when you go to the bartender there are no specials, don't complain to the bartender. Go to a manager and show him/her the flier. Management have the power to honor the drink specials printed on the flier.
Don't start asking for all the prices
It's OK to ask about the price of a particular drink, but when you start asking about all the prices, it is not OK. You waste the bartenders time and you keep the other customers waiting longer because you keep asking how much everything is.
Don't do this: How much is a Long Island iced Tea? How much is a Bud Light? How much for an Apple Martini? How much for a Jack and Coke? How much for a Newcastle? How much for a shot of Patron? How much for a Kamikaze? How much for a White Zinfandel? How much for a Vodka and Cranberry? etc ...
Note: You may ask about what are the drink specials.
Don't ask, "what is your cheapest drink?"
When you ask about the cheapest drink, you are telling the bartender that you are cheap. Cheap people don't leave tips. You are setting yourself to get a weak drink by asking that question.
Drink prices from cheapest to most expensive:
- Non-alcoholic drinks like sodas, juices and bottle water.
- Domestic beers then import beers and maybe house wines.
- Well drinks
- Call drinks
- Premium drinks
- Super premium drinks
Don't assume that $3 drink specials are any drink
When you see a flier from a bar and it says, "$3 drink specials," don't assume it's any drink you want. Ask the bartender what are the drink specials before you start ordering your drinks. Some people assume that $3 drinks are any drink and they start ordering all premium drinks. Then, when the bartender tells them how much it is for the drinks, they reply, "I thought they were $3 drinks."
Don't assume that soft drinks are free
If you buy a liquor shot (not a mixed drink shot) like a shot of Jack Daniel's for example, you could ask for a coke back. But if you don't buy anything and you want a soda, you are going to have to pay for it.
Don't assume that because you are a designated driver, you get a free soda. If you come with a group of people and the whole group get drinks and you are the only one that gets a soda because you are the designated driver, you might get a free soda. But if you come by yourself to the bar and want a free soda because you are a designated driver, you are going to have to pay for the soda. There is no way for the bartender to know that you are really a designated driver or just a person that doesn't want to pay for soda.
Note: Some establishments don't give out free soft drinks to anybody even if they are designated drivers.