HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Complimentary pours

Hi all—

Researching an article that pours complimentary drinks as a matter of policy. For instance, here in Colorado, Boulder's Frasca follows the Friulian tradition of the tajut. A fellow 'hound also told me about a place in Phoenix that serves gratis glasses of Sambuca after the meal.

I assume most places that do this will be places that emphasize prix-fixe tasting menus and such. In short, the price of the drink, be it an aperitif or a sparkler or a digestif, is technically probably covered by the price of the meal. Even so, if you know of places that do this anywhere in the country, I'd be much obliged to hear about it.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A few of us chowhounders dined at a new French Restaurant - 'Quatrefoil' outside of Toronto a few days ago. ( chefs/owners honed their skills under two of the most demanding Michelin3* chefs, Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White ).
    We had the chef's tasting menu. At the end of the meal we were offered an additional complimentary chocolate dessert that was paired with a glass of complimentary ' 10 yrs old Tawny Port '.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      That's an excellent start, thanks. I take it you mean these extras weren't listed on the tasting menu, they came as a surprise? Do you know offhand whether they do that as a matter of course?

      1. re: tatamagouche

        It came as a surprise, not listed on the 'printed' tasting menu. As for whether this is their 'normal' policy, this I do not know!

    2. My (essentially bottomless) glass of Nuits-St-Georges at Guy Savoy (Paris) was complimentary. Then again I was having the Couleurs, Textures et Saveurs menu that was going along with the Leflaive Les Pucelles Puligny-Montrachet.

      I've had the odd complimentary pours at restaurants here and there, but there's really been no consistency.

      1. The Crystal Lake Hotel in the Poconos, which serves high-end italian, routinely brings snifters of Sambuca romana at the end of a meal, always with 3 coffee beans for good luck.
        Recently at La Calle Doce, a high end Mexican resto in Dallas, our group was surprised by a complimentary round of peach liqueur cocktails with our flan, a nice touch.
        Neither is a prix-fixe format, but I think the size of the bill is a factor.

        2 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Modo Mio in Philadelphia does the same with Sambuca and the coffee beans.

          2. In NYC, Il Mulino offers grappa at the end of the meal...

            1 Reply
            1. Chez Panisse in Berkely offers an aparatif as part of their Saturday prix fixe

              Marica in Oakland, Ca offers a glass of sparkling wine if they know you are a first time diner. Actually they give out sparkling wine on the house for all sorts of reasons. It is a regular menu and not prix-fix or tasting.

              1. A number of l;ocal neighborhood Chinese restaurants serve complimentary Plum wine with our meals. Southeastern Fairfield county, CT

                1. An Italian place here in Toronto gives shots of lemoncello after the meal gratis. I like it! It made me feel special and I went back! The only time in America I get free drinks is if something got screwed up :)

                  1. I think that it will just depend.

                    At a San Francisco restaurant, after doing the chef's tasting, and the sommelier's parings, we were offered several additional wines, that were being added to the list. While I do not expect such, it happens very often.


                    1. Terroir is a wine bar in NYC that pours free sherry as a matter of policy during happy hour. Apparently they believe that it is under-appreciated, so this little offering is their way of spreading the love.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Yanini

                        In many places in the US, Sherry IS under appreciated, though I would not think that would hold for NYC.

                        Good move on their part, and they possibly sell more Sherry, with such a "little special."

                        In some of my above cited "pours," that happens with other wines. It might not be that night, but then when we hit the bar, the next afternoon, we'll go for glasses, or bottles, from the night before. As a sales tool, it often works with me.


                      2. In the UK I visited an unlicensed Japanese place that served plum wine at the end of our meal (we were sitting at the bar, which had a lot of bottles you'd not expect to see in a restaurant with no alcohol license!).)

                        1. At the worst Mexican restaurant I've ever been to, and apparently it's a chain since I got dragged to more than one location, The Blue Moose Cafe in Lakewood, CO, each diner is provided with something called Moose Milk at the end of the meal. It is vaguely alcoholic.

                          Why this place is popular, I will never understand.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: 512window

                            Ha—well, being a Denverite at present, I'd guess the BM (I think it's Cantina) is popular among a) families b) happy hour cruiser types. Rest assured great Mexican food is alive and well in this town.

                            Anyway, I'm so pleased by all the responses—thank you all so much!

                            1. re: tatamagouche

                              I've had great Mexican food in Denver. But the co-workers seem drawn like lemmings to the Blue Moose.

                          2. I've always received sambuca after my meals at volare in NYC. They usually leave the bottle.

                            1. Complimentary limoncello at Mediterraneo in Providence, RI.

                              1. Here in Pennsylvania, where liquor licensing is prohibitively expensive, it's not at all unusual for a restaurant without a liquor license to not only encourage guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages, but to pour a complementary drink before or after the meal. Avalon restaurant in West Chester, starts guests out with drinks along the lines of a Bellini. I just read that the owner of Avalon is opening a new BYO pasta restaurant this week in nearby Downingtown, where guests will be offered a free pint of of beer made at the nearby Victory Brewing Company. Limoncello, also in West Chester, offers guests -- what else -- a glass of limoncello after dinner.