This post was updated at 1:04 PM PT to clarify the launch date of the Drink Card program.
Forget your run-of-the-mill Best Buy and Barnes & Noble gift cards. I know more than a few people who think a gift card that you could redeem for whiskey sours or Stella Artois would make a way better stocking stuffer.
Meet the "Drink Card" from BuyYourFriendADrink.com (BYFAD). The ambitious little start-up allows you to pay a dollar amount by credit card that a friend can then redeem for a drink at a participating bar by showing a text message code, has continually been one of our favorites to cover. Perhaps it's because a benevolent editor used the service to remotely buy me an apple martini that I then ordered at a local bar by showing the bartender a code in a text message--at 3:00 in the afternoon.
The service has expanded quite a bit since our initial test run, including launching a partnership with party-hearty social network Going.com and expanding beyond its original home base of New York to more than 120 bars and restaurants in New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, D.C., New Orleans, and Biloxi. (Sorry, San Francisco. You got one-upped by Biloxi.)
On Thursday, BYFAD will officially launch the Drink Card, which is exactly what you think it is: a credit card-sized piece of plastic that the bartender can swipe like a credit card to deduct the proper amount. You'll be able to fill one up for yourself or a friend with anywhere from $5 to $250, which means that won't cover anything really expensive. But here's the cool part: not only will each card come with a free $10 right off the bat, you get a 20 percent bonus, so that if you add $25 to a Drink Card, you get an extra $5. As a release from the company read, "It's a cool way to get a free round before you even leave for a bar or restaurant." Well, not really, since it can't magically make a Hoegaarden appear in front of me (complete with lemon slice), but I guess it does still constitute free drinks.
Sure, the whole process is a little complicated, especially if either party is under the influence, but it's a cute gimmick, and the fact that BYFAD takes a small commission from each purchase means that with a critical mass of eager drinkers, the company could actually be profitable. It's hoping to continue its expansion, too, with upcoming features including mobile ordering and a revamped bar search. And let's hope they add some San Francisco bars to their roster (a company representative has hinted that this is on the way). I want to buy my lovely West Coast colleagues some beers soon.
On a closing note, it goes without saying: please drink responsibly.