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...
- Rage of Bahamut: Genesis: Favaro's policy every time he successfully hunts down a bounty is to invite everyone to a drink.
- Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire: This starts off the events of "PSmith" — 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...
- Bennet does this in one of the Heroes tie-in comics when he needs to use an unmonitored Internet connection, going to his local coffee shop, yelling "Free coffee for everyone!" as a distraction, and paying for everyone's orders with his Company Gold Card. The patrons give him a collective toast as he leaves.
- In Once More Around the Bend it's a tradition for the hitman and mercenary patrons of Where the World Ends to do this after completing a big job.
- 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.
Fozzie: Works every time.
- 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,
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 amount of alcohol that is flowing.
Fitzgerald: [as everyone clamors to take the bill] I never thought I'd see the day!
- The Producers: Max does this while celebrating with Leo, although his display of generosity is somewhat undercut by the fact that there is exactly one other patron in the bar at the time.
- During the reading of the will in Snow Dogs, Ted's mother buys everyone in the bar a shot of whiskey as the last thing she bequeaths.
- In Girls Just Want to Have Fun, after the protagonists win the dance contest, Jeff's father - who is watching the televised event at a bar - calls for the bartender to provide a round of drinks on the house. Someone responds by dumping a pitcher of beer over his head, prompting him to laugh hysterically while shouting, "Drinks on me!"
- In The Star Wars Holiday Special, when her patrons respond poorly to the news that the Empire is shutting down the establishment, the cantina owner tells them that "We'll have one more round. This one's on the house."
- Support Your Local Sheriff: After the successful arrest of Joe Danby, the bartender paraphrases the sheriff's ultimatum before announcing that drinks are on the house.
- A non-alcoholic example in Goon. Doug invites his family to visit him in Halifax, where he's become a hockey star, and takes them to dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant he frequents. The owner declares that Doug is his favorite customer, and calls for free döner for everyone. Then Subverted when he takes a look around, and amends that to free döner sauce for everyone... and returns to the kitchen, telling his chefs to water down the döner sauce.
- 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.
- Used a few times in the Elemental Masters series:
- 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.
- 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 World War I.
- Unnatural Issue: Lord Peter Almsley goes undercover as the new gamekeeper. He combines introducing himself to the village and making friends with them in the traditional way, by buying a round for the regulars at the village pub.
- 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.
- Back in Feet of Clay, Sergeant Colon resorts to basically the same tactic after Nobby has a moment of Alcohol-Induced Idiocy. It prevents a Bar Brawl, but then leaves him with the problem that he's just paid for a hell of a lot of drinks with the Watch's petty cash. All of it.
Colon: I didn't even know you could buy gin in pints!
- 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.
- A Dry, Quiet War by Tony Daniel. Super Soldier Henry Bone, returning to his hometown after fifteen years, walks into a pub and asks for the whisky his father used to make. His request is viewed with suspicion until he's finally recognised; the barman then rejects Henry's offer of a round for everyone.
"Your money's no good here, Henry Bone. I do happen to have a couple of bottles of your old dad's whisky stowed away in back. Drinks are on the house."
- 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.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Allegiance", one of the clues that the Picard aboard the Enterprise is an impostor is seeing the normally-distant captain order a round of ales for everyone in Ten Forward.
- Big and Rich's song "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" has this line: "And I buy the bar a double round of Crown".
- Likewise, "Kick My Ass" starts with "I walked up to the bar / I laid down my platinum card / And I ordered fifty longnecks for my new friends"
- 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 roomStumbled into thug who smelled like bud, and his eyes looked high as the moonHe looked like a man with his foot in the grave, and his lifetime 'bout to be outYet he slapped down some hundred dollar bills on the bar, and he yelled out "Drinks on the house"
- The narrative character in "Jones Polka," by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, is basically spending his whole paycheck to buy drinks for everyone in the bar.
- A scene in Waitress has Dawn's new boyfriend in the restaurant announcing "pie for everyone!"
- In Mass Effect 2, Shepard 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 weaseling 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!
- While in Orzammar, the party can visit Tapster's Tavern in search of information. One of the easiest ways to get the barmaid to be of any help to you is to buy a round of drinks for the whole room.
- In Rugrats, "the drinks are on me" resulted in everyone dumping their drinks on the character in question's head.
- Parodied in Tex Avery's The Shooting Of Dan Mcgoo, when someone calls for drinks on the house. Sure enough everybody runs to the roof and starts drinking.
- On DuckTales (1987), after being totally humiliated in a bar, Scrooge McDuck subverts this trope:
And to show you there are not hard feelings, I want to pay for a drink to everyone... who didn't laugh at me!
- Moe, on The Simpsons, celebrates Homer and Marge reaffirming their love by announcing "Hey, everybody! For the next 15 minutes, 1/3 off on every pitcher! ...only one per customer... Hey, no sharing!" Another episode reveals that rounds being offered at Moe's are so unusual that he barely remembers hearing about them back when he learned how to be a bartender. When a patron orders one in that episode, Moe consults a manual to understand what a round is.
- On Family Guy Quagmire once offered to the buy the gang's drinks with his tax refund.
- On SpongeBob SquarePants, after foiling Plankton's latest plan to steal the Krabby Patty recipe, Mr. Krabs invites SpongeBob to the Krusty Krab and "have a fresh one (patty), on me!" but then reconsiders and adds "Well, maybe at a discount."
- If you see a bell in a bar in Thailand and someone encourages you to ring it...don't. It's a sign you're prepared to buy everyone in the bar a round. And not just everyone physically in the bar, but everyone who works on the premises, whether or not they were in your sight at the time.