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A Round of Drinks for the House
In a moment of celebration (or madness), someone announces that everyone's drinks are on them! They might be a bartender, or a patron, or just an excitable party guest, but who cares who's paying for it? It's free booze!

Reasons to do this vary almost as much as reasons to drink in the first place. Maybe the buyer just won the lottery. Maybe there's a tense situation between a couple of patrons, and someone wants to avert a Bar Brawl. Maybe they're just drunk, stupid, in possession of a credit card and overcome with love for mankind. It's also a tradition for golfers who've scored a hole-in-one (be thankful — in Japan, the tradition is to buy everyone expensive gifts), and for new fathers (known as "wetting the baby's head").

Frequently parodied when after a moment's thought, the announcer realises just how many people there are, and how much this is going to cost them...


Examples:

Comics
  • Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire: This starts off the events of "P Smith" — Al the bartender meets the Thuxian of his dreams, and it's free drinks for everyone.
  • Happens several times in the Lucky Luke comics. For example, when the Dalton Brothers come to a city in Canada, a gold digger arrives and uses his gold to buy a round. The saloon owner says that the gold diggers all do that and then go back to digging gold for another six months. Cue Joe Dalton planning to take over the saloon...

Film
  • In The Muppet Movie, Fozzie defuses a Bar Brawl by impersonating the bartender and shouting "Drinks are on the house!" Of course, this being the Muppets, this causes all of the brawlers to race to the roof of the bar where they look futilely for the drinks.
  • Henry Chinaski's "For all my friends!" in Barfly.
  • Happens several times in The Quiet Man, and during the big fight scene, the bartender, Thornton and Danaher verbally fight over who's buying the drinks.
  • Red Tails has our heroes given a round on the house in the officer's club in thanks for their bravery.
  • Oliver! — discussed (optimistically) in "Consider Yourself";
    If it should chance to be, we should see some harder days,
    Empty larder days,
    Why grouse?
    Always a chance we'll meet somebody to foot the bill
    Then the drinks are on the house!
  • Paul Maclean does this in the gambling den in A River Runs Through It, believing he's about to have a lucky night.
  • The theatre producer does this in the inn in Shakespeare in Love, before exclaiming, apropos of nothing, "Oh, happy hour!"
  • In Avatar, after Hometree is destroyed, Quaritch proclaims that the first round's on him tonight to celebrate.
  • Hot Shots! plays this for laughs. One character announces that he's buying drinks for everyone, and incites a riot, complete with patrons Fast Roping into the bar from the roof.
  • Waking Ned Devine: After the townsfolk successfully hoodwink the lotto man, the first place they go is down the pub, where they all offer to pay for the copious amounts of alcohol that is flowing.
    Fitzgerald: [as everyone clamors to take the bill] I never thought I'd see the day!

Literature
  • Vagabonds of Gor: Tarl is in a makeshift tavern in an enemy encampment when a Boisterous Bruiser with whom he'd had previous dealings (to said bruiser's detriment) comes in to buy a round of drinks for everyone.
  • In Reserved for the Cat, Jonathan pretends to be someone who just won a lot of money and is buying rounds to celebrate as a way to keep a reporter occupied while Thomas and Wolf search the reporter's apartment.
  • In the Mercedes Lackey novel Phoenix and Ashes, Reginald routinely offers to buy rounds at the local pub. He's loaded and knows that the guys he befriended there could use a drink since many of them (like him) were sent home after being injured in WWI.
  • In Snuff, Vimes finds this to be a useful way of navigating the tricky diplomatic waters of drinking in your local pub when you happen to own the entire village (you could say he's the landlord's landlord). Several times, he buys a round for all the patrons, generally as a way to earn their goodwill, and once in an attempt to avert a Bar Brawl.
  • Much of Death Star takes place in a cantina, so this comes up a few times. The winner of an arm-wrestling contest in particular declares this, to show that he is a gracious winner.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Soul Mates", Londo is seen celebrating his impending divorce by getting smashed and buying drinks for everyone within range. "Barkeep! Another round for all my friends!"
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Warren announces that drinks are on him at the local demon bar to celebrate the fact that he's a Big Bad who killed the Slayer. The demons respond by laughing at him, because they've already heard that Buffy survived the attack.
  • How I Met Your Mother has Barney loudly declare he's buying champagne for everyone in the bar. After the cheers die down, he quietly tells the bartender to give everyone ginger ale.
  • Subverted in the short lived detective series Mayo, where the titular character would say this to his team and be turned down by all of them at the end of every episode.
  • My Name Is Earl: Earl & Randy discovered that if a golfer hits a hole in one the tradition is for that golfer to buy a round for everyone in the clubhouse. So they make sure that that golfer gets a hole in one every time.
  • In Frasier, when Niles is trying to persuade Daphne's father Harold to reconcile with her mother, this is the only way he can silence the jeering and get Harry's attention for five seconds.

Music
  • Big and Rich's song "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" has this line- "And I buy the bar a double round of Crown".
  • In Jason Michael Carrol's song Where I'm From, the narrator's in the first class section of a plane. The man next to him says that the drinks up there are free, and he says "the first one can be on me".
  • The song "Solomon Jones" by Aceyalone & RJD 2.
    When, out of the night, which was dark and cold, into the smoke-filled dimly lit room
    Stumbled into thug who smelled like bud, and his eyes looked high as the moon
    He looked like a man with his foot in the grave, and his lifetime 'bout to be out
    Yet he slapped down some hundred dollar bills on the bar, and he yelled out "Drinks on the house"

Tabletop RPG

Truth in Television
  • In 2004 a businessman at a London nightclub said "The drinks are on me". The nightclub patrons ordered 110 bottles of champagne, and he ended up with a bill for more than £42,000 ($59,000).
  • In the United States, every now and then a moderately successful professional athlete might return to the college for which he played 2-3 years later and do this. They are inevitably surprised when the students immediately start buying the most expensive drinks in the house...and also the same crappy drinks they had been drinking before in the same quantities.

Western Animation

Video Games
  • In Mass Effect 2, Shepherd can buy drinks for all of Afterlife's patrons. The bartender tells you that there are a lot of patrons there that night and gives you the option of weaselling out.
  • In Mount & Blade, buying booze for everyone in town increases your reputation for that town.
  • This is a gameplay mechanic in the Uncharted Waters series: ordering a round of drinks for the entire tavern gives a temporary bonus to how many sailors you can hire there afterwards. The more money you spend on the drinks, the larger the bonus.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Warden can convince/threaten Lloyd the bartender of Redcliffe's tavern to allow the militia to drink for free. Since their village is about to be attacked by another Zombie Apocalypse, they need those drinks. Best part? The Warden doesn't have to spend a single copper. He/she can simply threaten to murder Lloyd and take ownership of his tavern!

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