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The Buyback Project: How to Get a Buyback

We're in progress on the Buyback Project, Eater's investigation into the integrity of buyback programs at various NYC bars of note. One sentence primer: a buyback is a free round of drinks offered to a patron after he or she has purchased one or more rounds prior. Some bars are extremely generous with their buybacks, others are not. Hence, the Buyback Project.

2007_03_buyback.jpgOn the question of how does one secure a buyback, we turn it over to a reader/bartender, who has some suggestions.

--Cash on the bar when you walk in, before you order - no cards!

--Know what you want - no asking for recommendations, no frozen drinks, no (except VERY rarely) cocktail list. If we don't have what you usually drink, that's the time to ask for recommendations.

--If there's more than one of you - buy a round for Chrissake! Separate tabs or paying separately are death to the buyback. If you're that bothered your drinking partners' beverage is $1 more than yours, are you likely to be generous to your server?

--If bar is busy - tip heavy on first and say "in case too drunk to remember later", if sitting at bar, tip at the end but ALWAYS have $ on the bar. It's your bartenders responsibility to keep track of your cash if you're sitting there - but less than $50, I don't want to have to give you that much (and I will) if some scumbag lifts it..

--Be nice! Please and thank you never hurt, and you'd be surprised how often they're not heard.

--Ordering a beer and a water every round isn't great either.. water with a Manhattan or a Martini is sensible, water with beer screams someone who is scared of getting even a little drunk - and drunk people are great tippers.

--If you know your bartenders name - NEVER shout it; catch their eye. If they are any good they're watching, they might be bogged down but they know you need a beer. Shouting names makes us feel like Rover the family pet - i.e not good!

--Okay I think that's it. And yeah some places have sucky policies, especially Midtown - but if your bartender is allowed to do buybacks she/he will at least give you the industry standard - 4th drink free, or whatever more they can. And they will LOVE you and remember your drink of choice (probably not your name, that takes a few visits!) next time you come in. Just imagine meeting 300 people a day - and what percentage are a**holes? We really appreciate the good ones!

· The Buyback Project [~E~]

Nominations for the Buyback Project being accepted now, via the tipline, svp; additional thoughts on buyback culture earn extra brownie points—and, who knows, maybe a free round.

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