on the houseOther than free sex with random bar guests the next hottest item on the agenda of a bar patron is hearing those magical words “next round of drinks are on the house!

In this article I will tell you when you should give away free drinks in your bar.  As a responsible owner or manager you already know, that

  1. Everyone wants free drinks and almost beg for their tab to be on the management.
  2. Free drinks are against the rules
  3. They do not generate more income

Many folks as they are getting ready to go out on a Friday or Saturday night are hoping to score, whether it by heading home with that hot piece of tail or by getting over on the bartender enough to get a free drink or by getting someone to buy them a drink. As an an owner or manager you have to know that someone will not just sample your amazing craft drink and then buy one in fact the chances are slim that this would happen.  As a bartender you have to know that your tips will not double if you let someone sample your perfectly made Long Island Iced Tea.  In fact your tip will be the same whether he receives a little love on the house or whether he buys a PBR.  That is a tough lesson to learn and a big mouth full of food to chew.

There should never under any circumstances be any tab left at the end of the night, regardless of whose it is.  Everyone should pay for the drinks they buy, nobody is exempt and privileged enough to have the owner or manager or bar staff give them a free drink that will cost you in your bottom line.  Alcohol is not and should not ever be free to hand out to someone – period!

Cocktails, shots, or beers on the house, DO NOT generate more income.  If you give one away it doesn’t mean another will be sold.  They do not increase the bottom line for the pocket of the bartender or for the establishment. There are no “buyback” policies when it comes to bartending either, if someone ordered the drink they are responsible for it.  I used to deal with people (mostly the regulars) that would tip quite a bit and then expect a free drink next round or next trip to the bar.  In reality what they did is pay me to forget that they were expecting something that would cost the bar money.  Let’s drift off subject real quick – if you or your bartenders feel they need to over pour, or give free drinks to get better tips, that means your bartenders suck and they need to be replaced.  OK – back on subject, you have to protect yourself from the patrons that expect free drinks and/or the bartenders that fuel that fire.

Now, when should a bartender or bar owner comp a tab or offer drinks on the house?  NEVER under any circumstances should a patron ever feel that they are obligated in your building to get a drink on the establishment or on anyone else, nobody gets a free ride in your bar.  You should make pompous, self righteous, cheap, patrons your biggest pet peeve and nip them in the bud very quickly.  They are not only a pain in your ass they are also time suckers which in the end will also cost you money.  These guys are distractions to your staff and your guests.