Some drinks in life are free. How I managed to get £35 of free drinks (and you can too)
MSE Update, Wed 18 Mar at 4pm: Government advice at this time is to avoid all pubs in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This is for the foreseeable future.
See our Coronavirus Financial Help & Rights guide for info on its financial implications in the UK, including sick pay rights, mortgage help, event cancellations and more.
Everything tastes better when it's free, so I've compiled a list of tips for you to nab a free bevvy or two (thirsty work), though I’m not suggesting you do them all – be Drinkaware.
Most of these freebies involve a sign-up, which usually means opting in to marketing emails, but you can always hit ‘unsubscribe’ after you’ve bagged your freebie.
Unfortunately, in Scotland you may not be able to claim some of these freebies due to alcohol promo laws being different from the rest of the UK.
Free pint for National Pub Fortnight (norm £4ish)
Until Sun 4 Aug, you can claim a voucher for a free pint – various beers/ciders including Foster’s, Strongbow, John Smith’s and Heineken - or a bottle of Old Mout cider, Gordon's gin & tonic, Pepsi Max or a J2O soft drink at 2,000ish pubs in England and Wales (find your nearest).
You can only claim your voucher on a mobile or tablet and it's one free drink per person. For all the details, see our full information.
Free pint of Carlsberg Pilsner (norm £4ish)
Claim your free pint of Carlsberg Danish Pilsner until 11.59pm on Sat 31 Aug, or when 14,000 have been claimed, whichever's sooner.
You'll need to fill in an online form and choose a participating pub (excludes Scotland), then your voucher will be emailed within 24 hours. The vouchers will be valid until 11.59pm on Mon 30 Sep.
All Bar One free cider (norm £5ish)
If you download the All Bar One app and register, you can easily grab a refreshing 'schooner' (2/3 pint) of Pip & Wild strawberry and rose fruit cider.
There’s also a virtual stamp card, where you’ll receive more rewards on your third and sixth drink (though I’m not suggesting you do it in one session).
Ember Inns free beer, gin or wine (norm £4ish)
I don’t have one of these near me, but if your local's an Ember Inn you can register on the app and enjoy a free drink. Choose from a pint of Ember Inns Pale Ale or Hop House 13, a single Gordon’s pink gin & tonic, 125ml glass of Canyon Road or Oyster Bay wine, Robinson's mint & lime cordial or a regular draught soft drink.
Ember Inns will also give you a free bottle of prosecco if it’s your birthday – see our 50+ Birthday Freebies guide.
If you live in London, Manchester or Liverpool, or you're visiting on a night out, download the free Dusk app (formerly known as Drinki) to claim a free drink every evening.
It’s location based, so it’ll show you the nearest drinking hole and a specific drink you can get free for a limited time. Sadly, you won’t get to choose the drink, but it’s a cheap way to start your night out.
Current offers are a free pint of Guiness in London at selected Fuller's pubs and a free St-Germain Spritz between Thu 29 Jul and Thu 4 Aug.
Brown's free pineapple daiquiri (norm £9)
Sign up to Brown's newsletter and you can receive a free pineapple daiquiri in any Brown's bar.
There are 25 venues around the country so do check beforehand if there's one near you.
Nicholson's £1 pint of cask ale or a gin & tonic (norm £4.50ish)
Okay, so not quite free, but £1 for a Bombay Sapphire gin & tonic or pint of Nicholson's pale ale can’t go amiss. Another app for you to simply download and sign up to so you can grab the deal.
What if I'd rather have a cuppa?
Of course, not everyone drinks alcohol, and while most of the freebies above include a soft drink alternative, you might prefer a hot drink instead.
See our free tea and coffee deals for a full round-up including Waitrose, Ikea and more high street names – but here are just a couple of the most widely available free cuppas:
Caffé Nero free hot drink (norm up to £2.75)
There are two ways to claim a free cuppa here. Firstly, you can get a free hot drink when you first download the Caffè Nero loyalty app and enter the code WELCOMETONERO2019. You have 14 days to claim the freebie after entering your code.
You don't have to enter any payment details into the app if you just want the freebie.
Secondly, from midday every Tuesday or Wednesday, smartphone users can get a free hot or cold drink from the O2 Priority app. Three mobile and Vodafone customers can often get free coffee via its rewards apps.
Greggs free hot drink (norm up to £2)
Greggs offers a free regular-sized hot drink the first time you download its app and register.
Other ways to blag a free drink
To end, I've a few imaginative ways to blag yourself a free drink...
Ask a friend to buy your drink in Wetherspoon
Wetherspoon pubs are like the Starbucks of the booze world – they seem to be everywhere. Its Order and Pay app enables anyone with a smartphone to order food and drink remotely from anywhere and have it delivered to a specific table at any of its 900+ pubs.
Naturally, some Wetherspoon customers (Spooners, if you will) have found a loophole in this, where they ask absent mates – say, someone who promised to meet you but didn’t show – to buy them a drink via the app by way of apology. Or maybe just because it's their round.
Buy me a coffee
If you’re a cash-strapped creative, ‘Buy Me A Coffee’ is a great way for strangers to fund your craft (no longer talking about the beer variety).
All you need to do is create your page to showcase your talents and explain how you’ll spend the donations – you don’t actually have to spend the money on coffee, that's just the name of the site. Friends or strangers can choose to buy you from one to five 'coffees' at a time. Buzzing.
Perform a stand-up comedy routine
This is not for the faint-hearted. There’s an open mic night in London called Comedy Virgins that gives a free half-pint to any comedian who manages to convince the audience they're funny. The crowd need to shout "buy ‘em a drink" before you've finished and then the free beer is all yours.
I only included this one as I actually tried it myself – the lengths I'll go to for a freebie – but I did come out on (lager) top with a free half-pint, so it was totally worthwhile.
Please be Drinkaware.