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comped drinks

The postings about "free" bread made me think of this. An aquaintence of mine won't go to one bar that the rest of us like because they don't comp him any drinks. he says that any "good" bar will always comp the second or third drink if they want you to come back. I know that once in a while a bar will comp a regular customer, but expecting them to comp everyone who has more than a couple of drinks doesn't sound reasonable to me.

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  1. As a former bartender I can say that unless this person was a VERY good tipper I would have not comped anything until they became a "regular". However, I've had the friends of this type of person pay in advance for a drink so I would give a comp to PITA so their night could go smoothly.

    1. Jfood has a pretty simple philosophy when going into a retaurant. If he wants it, he buys it. If something is comped he is appreciative. He has NEVER walked into a resto thinking anything would be comped. And to think that one deserves a free drink after one or two is just silly. Does that mean that a 6-top should get two of their meals for free? Or if M&M jfood go to a resto for dinner they receive a buy one get one free on their next visit.

      people should stop thinking that certain items are an entitlement, and remember that they are they gracious gifts from your host, who is the owner of the resto.

      1. we might know the same person!
        I think it's wonderful when I'm comped anything, but I never expect it. Some bars don't let their bartenders comp drinks (though I would say they're in the minority), so doing so would put the bartenders job in jeopardy. My favorite bar in the world charges so little (most expensive bottled beer $3.25 and that's in Philadelphia) for drinks they can't really afford to comp so they rarely do, even for those of us who have consumed many, many, many drinks.

        1. I think your friend's issue with the bar is something other than this. Maybe he got flagged there once. "Good" or "bad" places do not "always" comp the second or third anything to keep you coming back. After all they are bars and restaurants not soup kitchens.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Quine

            Never ever been comped for a drink. Ever.

          2. That is ridiculous.

            I've only been comped when I was a regular and generous tipper combined.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rockandroller1

              Hubby and I always get what in my area is called a "buy back" all the time at one place we frequent. We are regualrs, have been going there for 10 years, when we do a round of shots we always buy one for the bartender and we are very generous with our tips. They will usually buy every third drink for us.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                "Bizarre" is the word that popped into my head, but yeah, ditto, you gotta wonder people come up with this stuff....

              2. The only time I ever heard of "always" comping drinks was when a bar wanted to get rid of those they thought were undesirables. They raised their prices above standard and then made it a practice to comp every few drinks for those who were not undesirables. Figure it out.

                1. Im a creature of habit, once I find a bar I am comfortable with I go regularly(1 to 2 times per week), and tip pretty well, at least 20%. So if after a while if a bar does not buy me a drink every once in a while I stop going to the place and look for a new bar to go that appreciates my business.

                  1. We go to the same bar two or three times a week - it's up the street from our house. Tiny little place, total staff of 4 people. They know us well (once changed a flat tire for a friend of mine while husband and I were at a play) and we know them well (once I jump-started the owner's fiancee's car). Here and there we'll get a "magic" tab that's lower than it should be, but we certainly never expect it.

                    However, if I find a bar that gives away every other drink I am going to go there every single night. Until it closes. Which will probably be shortly.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jnstarla

                      bingo, jnstarla. bar mgmt often love to comp awesome customers/regulars like jnstarla for their continued good patronage. it's important to realize the bartender sometimes is not bar mgmt/owner/family and can't comp drinks or anything else w/o putting her/his livelihood at risk. likewise a bar that gives away drinks to everyone who buys a couple tap beers won't last long. if a bar is in the red, or operates in a tough location, or is corporately owned, comping may get cut out altogether. when going into a bar bring money to pay for your drink and money to tip. if the powers that be grant you a comped round at some point tonight or down the road, well what a nice surprise, and everyone's happy, right? btw don't forget to tip the staff generously for your first comped round, else it will likely be your last as well. . .

                      1. re: jnstarla

                        jnstarla--based on previous posts, I think we live in the same place. Care to share the name of that neighborhood joint? It sounds like just the kind of place I've been looking for here. Thanks!

                        1. re: smarsh

                          I think you're right - it's Jake's Cigars and Spirits, on Maple Street in Benson.

                      2. I think the days of 'buy backs' are long gone. Growing up in New York's outer boroughs, and having had my share of cocktails, I was always accustomed to having the third round on the house. We would drink two rounds, and then the bartender would place an upside down shot glass near our drinks indicating the next one is on them. They were fun times then. ... : )
                        Problem is, things have changed now. I'm sure that higher rents and higher taxes on booze are both contributing factors as to why bars can't offer free drinks to patrons any more. Watering holes are in the biz to turn a profit. KaimukiMan, it sounds as if your friend is just reminiscing/yearning of days of old. In my day, everyone got comped a drink.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          There are still plenty of bars that offer buy backs in NYC, Manhattan, even! Not the fancy cocktail bars but many of the middle to lower end bars will buy you a drink especially if you are a regular or if you are buying rounds for your group.

                          1. re: Cheese Boy

                            Hey CheeseBoy the buy back is alive and well in the NYC area! I live in Rockland County (Hudson Valley) and we get them all the time. I dont know where you live, but if you ever venture to Nyack, NY go to the Olde Village Inne on Main St. Friendly bartenders, decent pub food and once they get to know you...plenty of buy backs!

                            1. re: HungryRubia

                              HR, I still get buy backs, but hardly ever in Manhattan-NYC. Happy hours in Manhattan you'll get 2-for-1, but that's about it. I've been to Rockland many times. The bars in the *suburbs* of NYC are much more generous with "gifting" rounds. The traffic on the TZ and I-287 is a deterrent for me.

                            2. re: Cheese Boy

                              Im a bartender in Manhattan and most bars I frequent or have worked at have buy back policies. At my bar you cannot buy back happy hour discouted drinks or specials. And you only buyback AFTER the third drink. But yes, if I do buy back too much, I get into hot water with the bosses.

                            3. That acquaintance of yours is wrong. If you're a regular at a bar and are known as a good tipper; yes it often happens at least once during an evening at one or two restaurants/bars at which I'm a regular (one of which I've been going to for over 10 years). But if he's never been there? It's insane to expect the bar to comp him the 2nd or 3rd drink, with no expectation that he'd ever be back!

                              I agree with jfood above - if you're going to the restaurant/bar, you should expect to pay for everything you order. Anything given to you by a staff member gratis is "gravy" and an unexpected pleasure...and usually *then* gets me going back again and again.

                              1. Your aquaintance has pretty high expectations. Different bars have different policies. Sometimes a bar will comp a regular customer (but rarely the second or third drink) or a customer who has purchased many drinks.

                                1. On the subject of comped drinks, what's the proper etiquette in regards to tip, etc.

                                  A bar I go to regularly, I end up with free drinks quite frequently. I usually end up "tipping extra well", but I've heard everything from "no tip" (yeah right) to "normal tip" to "pay exactly what you would have normally paid including tip" (which seems to defeat the purpose)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    Tip as you normally would or maybe an extra dollar per drink.

                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      We always tip on the total *as if the comped drinks were in the total*. So your tip would be slightly higher than it would otherwise be.

                                      1. re: jgg13

                                        if it were me, i'd tip $2-$5 for every comped drink, depending on monetary value of the drink ($2 for a domestic bottle of beer, $5 for a martini or other drink that would go for $10+). if a large round was comped to my party, say 3 beers, 2 mixed drinks, plus a round of shots, i'd tip the bt/server $20. ack i think i just gave myself a virtual hangover.

                                        if it's a bt i haven't seen in years and s/he buys me and dh our first round (happens all the time now that we don't get to bars very often), minimum tip is $10 no matter what we're drinking. if you are very generous with your tipping on comped drinks, you tend to continue to get more comped drinks, so your big tipping actually saves you money in the long run.

                                      2. Your friend is simply and completely incorrect.

                                        1. I don't mean to be rude, but your friend is being cheap. When I go to a bar, I don't expect ANY of my drinks to be comped. If one or two are, great wonderful. If they're not, oh well, that's life. I know the mark-up on alcohol is high, but expecting a bar to comp everybody that walks through the door is just silly, it is a business after all. Your friend should stick to places that have a 2-for-1 happy hour.

                                          1. You've got to call your friend on this!! Let him take you to these bars where he gets all these free drinks. This, to me, sounds like some bs from someone who never actually goes out but has some weird idea of how things work.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. Bring him here and he can drink FREE depending on what his parents named him. There's a sister bar in Soho I think that does the same thing that's actually a bit nicer. I should mention that you probably need to live close to NYC to do this.

                                              Dive-a-rama ---> http://www.noideabar.com/namenight.html

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                Fascinating, Cheese Boy! I doubt, though, that 'dolores' is an oft chosen name.

                                                1. re: dolores

                                                  Dolores, here's the sister bar I was speaking of ... it's a bit more appealing than the previous one I mentioned, and it also offers a name night where one can get tipsy on the bar's nickel.

                                                  Less-of-a-dive ---> http://www.antarcticabar.com/NameNigh...

                                              2. I could go either way on this one. I live in a resort community, which makes it kind of a different situation. In resort communities, people in the hospitality business take care of their own. When I lived in Aspen, all the bartenders knew each other and didn't charge each other. I lucked out on that one because I dated a bartender and rarely got charged for anything -- but tipped huge. My regular hangout where I live now takes good care of regulars for many reasons. We come in several times a week, we tip well and we treat out-of-towners like welcome visitors, not tourists, so they want to come back. Out of the resort context, if I were a regular somewhere and had more than a couple drinks a few times a week and didn't get comped anything, I'd probably feel a little insulted.

                                                1. I never expect comps, of anything. Particularly after hearing this story from my friend- she and her husband went to a bar where the husband's high school friend was the bartender. They decided to see how many drinks they would have to buy before the bartender comped a round, being old friends and all. 2 hours and 6 rounds of B&B later, they decided to call it a day and crawled into their house, never having received one free drink.
                                                  I say don't expect a comp and then if it happens, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: marmite

                                                    I love that kind of "friends." In the name of friendship they expect the guy to, quite possibly, jeopardize his job.

                                                    1. re: yayadave

                                                      The only way I'd agree with you is if they TOLD said friend that they wanted free drinks.

                                                      1. re: ricepad

                                                        Good point!! Don't know one way or the other. Good point!! Sometimes I jump the foot and put the gun in my mouth.