How to get free drinks at a festival, from a festival bartender

It’s easier than you think

Everyone knows drinks prices at festivals are insultingly over-priced and no one enjoys paying £6.50 for a single vodka and coke. Trust me, I work behind bars at festivals and I know better than anyone, the soul-destroying feelings of telling drugged up students that their drinks cost as much as their mandy. But very few people realise that there are several ways of blagging yourself a couple of free drinks or discounted prices on that bottle of wine “you desperately need for DJ EZ in half an hour.” So, here is the definitive list of all things you need to do to nab yourself some free booze.

Be blunt

If you have any knowledge of the bar industry, you know that stocks are rarely counted efficiently at festivals. I respect someone if they just tell me their drink is actually worth about £2 and is a bit of a dick. But that’s just me, I’m a bit of a dick and find it entertaining when people just bluntly state they’re not paying any more than a fiver. This is very dependent on the mood of the bartender you are speaking to so be selective on the person you choose.

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Impress us bartenders and you’ll get a free drink

Yes, we can put drinks down as “waste” and the tills are so outdated that they don’t know the difference between a double gin and a single vodka, but that doesn’t give you the right to shout out “MATE I KNOW YOU CAN DO THIS.” Slyly tell us you’ve worked behind a bar before or whisper that you know this goes on, and I’ll be more likely to let you run off with a free drink.  If they won’t budge on this price, then be ready to admit defeat. You will simply get kicked out of the bar if you tell a manager “oh please mate I know you’re making thousands of pounds today – let me off!” Be a cheeky dick, not an outright twat who isn’t prepared to move on and pay the price that one time.

Strike a deal

Offering me something in return for a cheaper drink works very well for both of us. But this isn’t a case of “I’ll give you a pill later”, because the bartender can’t be 100% sure they’ll definitely get it. For us, we’re more concerned if you buy us some food from a food stall, give us a bite of your burger, have a sip of your drink or give us a cig. This method is probably the one that will guarantee you at least a quid off your drink or an extra shot in your drink. Top tip: one cig isn’t enough, a few would be absolutely fab.


Werk werk werk


I don’t care really, if anyone (literally anyone!) takes a vague interest in me for a couple of minutes during my 14-hour shift I will do anything for you. Compliment my glitter, ask how my day is going, tell me I’d be good in bed – just don’t shout drinks names at me relentlessly and I’ll be more likely to slip you a free shot. If you give me the eye in the queue, look me up and down, give me a kiss on the cheek, whisper in my ear and then, only then, say you’re on to your last tenner, I’ll be more likely to offer you a deal.

I’m not fussy, I’ll flirt with anyone: boys, girls, older men, older women. Just tell me I look nice, ask for my number and life will be good. True story: a lad (who I recently found out was engaged at the time) managed to blag about 60 odd quid worth of drinks from me because he drew his number onto a napkin which featured a “life size” drawing of his cock and kissed me. Think outside of the box!

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This is what days of not washing, glitter overload and not filling your eyebrows does to you

Entertain Me

If I’m in a really fun bar with loads of music playing and there isn’t a big crowd, I may ask you to do something for me to get your free drinks. I have been known to give out a free shot for any of the following: doing an interpretative dance to Britney, slut dropping, kissing your best friend, telling me a joke, applying glitter to my face and daring you to ask my colleague if they’d like a quickie in the portaloo. Be prepared to work hard.


Edgy bandanna xo

Buy us a shot

When a manager is really dictatorial on shift we have to ask them if we can have a drink with you on shift. But if we’re having lots of fun, dancing around, really chatty, odds are that we’re drunk too and our manager isn’t a dickhead. Therefore, we’ll be more than capable of doing a few tequilas with you and more likely to give you a triple vodka for the price of one. Buying us drinks is a sure fire way of guaranteeing yourself a 2-for-1 deal as I can simply put it down as “waste.”

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See, I don’t wear a hat all the time at festivals 🙂 🙂 🙂

If you’re lucky and the card machine doesn’t work

Finally, technology never works well when you’re in a field in the middle of nowhere. So, take advantage of the fact that the card machine is taking forever, and if it won’t go through, and the bartender is feeling in a particularly good mood, then they may just say “quick run, now.” If they haven’t already, ask – no harm, eh?