|(picture courtesy of Esquire Magazine)|
How to Drink for Free
(from Eqsuire.com) We're not talking about the free drinks you RSVP for, or find on Facebook or on a happy-hour chalkboard. Not "drink specials" (more on that another week). These aren't drinks you seek out at all. They're surprises, modest rewards for you being you. They're drinks that are granted to us by generous people: friends, family, coworkers, bartenders. People who know us. Which makes them meaningful.
The first thing is, the free drink shouldn't be turned down. Because, really, it's a gesture by someone who likes you or thinks you're important enough to pretend to like. Turning down a free drink is like turning down a handshake. The drink could be a shot of something you find repellant, but the answer is yes. (Speaking of the shot — specifically, the celebratory shot: It's usually not what we want to drink. It's often something very sweet. But no matter how saccharine or aggressively shoved in your face, a shot should be shot. No sipping.)
Often, the drink should be honored with a small toast. Especially when the one buying the drink is your boss or your father or her father. If they don't propose a toast within the first ten minutes of handing you the drink, then you should. To their generosity.
Speaking of generosity: There is no drink more special than the one given to you by a bartender at the end of the night. The dynamics have to be right. It occurs when the bar isn't very crowded. It occurs after you've drunk three or four drinks. But mostly, it occurs because you've been respectful and possibly amusing. The bartender puts something in front of you, something you've been drinking, and says, "This one's on me." When a bartender gives you a free drink (some people call it the "buy back") he's saying, "I like how you've been and I wouldn't mind if you drank in front of me for four hours again some time." Which is more or less what anyone is saying when they buy you a drink.
Paul Gustings, a bartender at Tujague's, one of our favorite bars in New Orleans, recently told us: "'May I?', 'Thank you,' and 'Please.' Those things work miracles. And people forget that. It's the 'Thank you' that really, really, really makes the big difference. 'Thank you' is all I expect. Tipping is not something I pay any attention to.”
So, if you want to be rewarded by a bartender, just be better than that guy over there. Which is remarkably easy. It pretty much involves the following:
• Order confidently and simply. Look at the beers on tap, and order one of those. Or look and see what whiskeys they have, and order one of those. Help the bartender help you.
• Look the bartender in the eye when you're talking to him. A lot of people don't.
• Say "Thank you" when your drink comes. A lot of people don't.
• Attempt to engage the bartender. Ask him a question about himself. Which suggests you have a soul.
You do all that in a bar, you'll be rewarded. You do all that in life, you'll be rewarded. With gratitude.