Do Women Drink for Free?

Is it true that women never pay for their own drinks in bars—having their tabs picked up instead by obliging men? This is the latest question at Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Ask Your Bartender column on his blog.

“I was hoping you could settle a debate that has begun in my office,” writes reader Amy. “The men say that most women drink for free (men buy their drinks) and expect to drink free. The women (myself included) believe this is an old wives tale as we have not the experience of walking into a bar and having random men pick up our tabs.”

The reader response is mixed, falling—not surprisingly—mostly along gender lines. Can you guess the gender of the following commenters?

Today it’s an exception. When my generation was in their 20’s, men would send unsolicited drinks to trigger that ‘nice girl’ response we were all brainwashed with as children.

I would have to agree that most women do drink for free when they go to a bar. Most men are willing to pay for them … for some odd reason.

I have always tried to be conscientious when drinking at the bar. If someone buys me a round I return the favor. If I were to run up an expensive bar tab I would feel guilty if I allowed a stranger to pick up the tab.

What does the Bartender have to say on the topic?

I’ve tended bar in all sorts of places, from college partyhouses and over-the-tracks dive bars to upscale restaurants and lounges…. Sure, there’s the occasional woman who doesn’t pay for a thing (I fail to see how this is vastly different from prostitution), but it’s not the rule, it’s an exception.

What is your experience? Are women willing to pay for their own drinks, or do they expect to be paid for?