Gratuity and the Bar: A Short Guide to Tipping Your Bartender

Providing the appropriate gratuity is a good thing to know how to do. Many people view how a person tips as a defining character trait. Knowing when, how, and who to tip will ensure the best service, show your excellent sense of etiquette, and definitely will cause people to like you more. When you are out for happy hour this week, be sure to budget the tip as part of the cost of your drinks. Remember bartenders often depend on tips to make up most of their pay.

Insider Tipping

If you really want to show your gratuity chops, tip up front on the first round. Don’t give a measly $1 tip… tip BIG. A $20 – $100 tip not only shows you are creating a good relationship with your bartender, but also starts off your evening with some good karma.

Credit vs Cash

If you are paying with plastic, always tip a minimum of 20%. There is just no alternative amount with this one unless you wish to increase it. Bartenders typically prefer cash, so if you are paying with your credit card then leave a cash tip.

It’s On the House

If your good karma started to kick in and you receive a drink or even several “on the house” be sure to still tip. You should try to estimate the cost of the drink(s) and tip 20% of that amount to the bartender.

Happy Hour

Going out for happy hour with friends and co-workers is the highlight of many work weeks. Don’t forget that this is really an opportunity for a restaurant to showcase it’s specials or to highlight new menu items. Bartenders and servers tend to suffer the most at happy hour while your wallet catches the reprieve. Try to tip your bartender either $2 per drink or 30% if you are ordering rounds.

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Final pointers
  • You should never put the tip in the bartender’s hand. It’s a forceful way to push money on someone and the tip is usually for everyone in the house anyway.
  • If I’m speaking from the bartender’s point of view, waving your money will not get my attention. In fact, waving cash around may lead to slower service for you and comes across as arrogant to others around you. But having your money ready for prompt payment helps speed up my night.
  • When in doubt, TIP BIG.
  • If you are rich and/or famous, TIP BIGGER.

For more on gratuity etiquette read Tipping Around the World and Gratuities and Transportation.


2018-01-10T18:57:11+00:00 By |

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