When People Buy You Drinks At a Gig. How do you handle it?


Silver Supporting Member
Most places I play give us free drinks, but It is good for the Club/Bar to let them buy you one.
I'm not from the no drinks on stage team, I can handle a couple of drinks, play well and have a great time without it being a issue, some can't, and they need to be dealt with, or get their own life in order.

One of the benefits of being a musician is the freedom to do things most people can't do at their jobs.
I've fortunately never been in a band with heavy rules regarding moderate alcohol consumption unless it became a real issue.

My Buddy was in a band with a leader that couldn't have a beer and play music, so no one in the band was allowed to. He said the $ was great, but He quit due to being treated like a child. I don't blame Him!
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If I don't have to drive, I usually graciously accept. That said, it depends on who's buying and what they are offering.

If someone is genuinely appreciating the music and feeling generous enough to buy a round, that's cool. If they have other expectations, that can be annoying.

If the waitress appears with some weird drink from 'that guy' or a dealer/wackjob, etc. No,thanks.

I can't count the times an alcoholic abomination has arrived on stage. " Hey bartender! Great band tonight, put a round of Malibu's on my tab for them! ?...yuck

Oh, and the bars that send up a round of the nightly 'drink specials' for the band to 'push'... dang, so many brutal disappointments. "Hey, free drinks! ....Whoa, what the heck is this...:barf
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snow and steel

Silver Supporting Member
I have told many bar tenders that if anyone sends a drink, put diet coke in a glass and tell them it's "Jack and coke, which is all he drinks". They buy it, bar makes [more] money, uses less expensive product, patron gets to continue to think he did something nice, and I don't have to worry about a crappy performance or DUI's going home.


I’m curious - is it an issue for you because you don’t drink (either at all, or while working), or because you’re worried a stranger might slip you a mickey and you’ll wake up in a basement like Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction? :)

I’ve never had anyone buy me a drink on a gig without asking what I was drinking, so unless it’s the latter, I would just ask for a Diet Coke or something.

Love your playing by the way. If I’m lucky enough to catch a gig of yours one day, I’m definitely buying you a drink whether you like it or not!

I've certainly have/had ways of handling this throughout the years, but would like to read about some of yours first ...


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Platinum Supporting Member
It depends how I'm feeling. I have accepted drinks and politely said no also. If it's a beer, that's fine. If someone is buying shots, probably not. I might occasionally do a shot of Jack at the end of the night with the band, but no hard stuff while playing.


Since I'm a non-drinker, I will politely decline. ("I appreciate it, but no thanks. I have an allergy...I keep breaking out in handcuffs.")

Oddly enough, there are some folks who can't wrap their heads around the concept of someone who doesn't drink:
"Ah, c'mon...one's not gonna kill you."
"What, are you too good to drink with me?!"
" But...but...IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!"
etc. etc. etc.

In these rare instances where people get belligerent, my declination can get slightly less polite.

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