How To Drink For Free (All Night Long) In NYC

nyc app

Cheers! Photo via Jessie on a Journey

I write this post with a slight hangover. Yes, it’s a Wednesday morning (don’t judge me!), but last night was totally worth the ride on the struggle bus today. And it’s all because of my new favorite NYC app.

I’m a tour guide and AirBnB host, and my guests are constantly complaining about how expensive NYC is. I beg to differ. Aside for rent, New York City can be budget-friendly. You just have to know where to look. You can check out this post for the full scoop on cheap things to do in NYC; however, right now I want to focus on one very important topic in particular: drinks.

Drinking For Free In NYC

Whether you’re a hardcore partier or just like to explore a place through a glass of local wine, New York City has no shortage of great venues serving everything from craft cocktails and local beers to cheap PBRs and well drinks. And yes, there are plenty of places with amazing happy hour specials or that are just inexpensive to begin with. But what about when you don’t want to spend anything?

I have recently discovered the most amazing NYC app, First Call, which gives you your first drink free. No, you don’t need to order a second drink. Yes, you should still tip your bartender. So far I’ve used the app in Union Square, Bushwick and the East Village, and all have had loads of great options beyond just dive bars. Think cute Italian wine bars, ambient date spots, German beer halls, craft cocktail lounges and more.

Surprisingly, I haven’t yet encountered any bartenders who were annoyed about me using the app. When I downloaded it I half expected establishments to pretend they didn’t know what it was or roll their eyes at me and pour my drink in an annoyed fashion, but everyone has been more than thrilled.

Here's how to spend $0 when going out in #NYC #newyork #nightlife Click To Tweet
nyc app

Being silly with blurry phone photos around the East Village with my ladies

A Free East Village Bar Crawl

Last night’s East Village crawl began with dinner at Otto’s Tacos — they don’t participate in the app, but they have amazing tacos and $2 beers. From there we let First Call lead the way, taking us to places we’d never heard of before (another neat feature of the app). First up: The Immigrant, a rustic wine bar we dubbed the “Tinder Tuesday” hot spot as we saw so many (very obvious) Tinder dates. Our bartender gave us generous pours of pinot noir and Sancerre and seated us in a cozy candlelit corner. Lovely.

Next, First Call suggested Rustico Wine Bar, where the bartender loved us so much he gave us a second round of drinks free as he chatted with us about his native home of Guatemala over Campari Spritz’s. We all agreed we’d be heading back there soon.

Finally we ended at Tarallucci e Vino, a bright and lively wine bar where our bartender, who was from Italy, chatted with my friend in Italian and introduced us to his cousin. It felt like we were old friends. We also got into an interesting discussion on inter-family marriage with another bar patron, but that’s another story entirely.

nyc app

First Call screenshots from my phone

How It Works

You can use this link to download the app for $5 for your first month. It works as a membership, so after that you’ll pay $25 per month (or you can cancel after the first month). That being said, every time you refer someone you get another month for $5. If you get four free drinks per month you’ve already more than covered the cost of the app.

Once downloaded you can open the app to see what bars around you participate in the program, and view what’s included in the deal. While some bars only offer beer and wine, others feature specialty cocktails — and once in awhile even snacks. Head to your bar of choice, click “Get Your First Call,” and show the bartender the code that comes up on your phone. They’ll enter it in and you’ll get a free drink.

Note: First Call isn’t trying to get you trashed, they’re trying to get you to explore, discover new things and save money. So you can only redeem a free drink once every two hours. Once you redeem a drink a counter within the app will start counting down.

After your experience you can leave a review for others to see within the app.

While the app launched in 2015, I’ve only just discovered it now thanks to my buddy Liz. Oddly enough, whenever I mention it to other New Yorkers they’ve never heard of it. So even though it’s technically not brand new it’s still new in the minds of locals.

This #app gets you #free drinks all night long in #NewYork Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

One of my favorite apps for discovering unique things to do in a destination is FourSquare (yes, I still use FourSquare). First Call reminds me of FourSquare in the sense that you immediately see what’s around you and try places you may not have even known existed. What makes it even better is that your experience is free (though please tip your bartenders!).

Available on iOS and Android.

Note: This post is NOT sponsored or endorsed by First Call. It’s an app I genuinely use and enjoy.

Want To Keep The Good (& Cheap Times Rolling?

Check out:

What’s your favorite NYC app for free experiences? Have you tried First Call? Please share your experiences in the comments below! 

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2 Comments

  1. First, I thought I was the only person who still used FourSquare as my friends think I am a dinosaur for using the app. Check-in’s get you some great things!

    Second, thank you for sharing that app, never heard of it and will have to do some research. I love NYC for the “cheap” eats and drinks you can find on almost every corner if you keep your mind open.

    Tinder Tuesday Bar I found one on the Upper East Side a few weeks ago.

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