Monday, August 29, 2005

New Bar Tipping Rule

Nothing like a blog post on tipping to get everyone and their mother jumping into the fray. I just posted the following comment to a discussion at Majikthise on what to tip bartenders and such:
This discussion has helped me clarify a new rule for me: Tip bar staff based on effort required to make and serve the drink, not on the price of the drink.

Yes, last time I went to my neighborhood tap, it stuck in my craw a bit when I handed over a dollar tip for the $2 bottle of beer that the bartender put on the counter.

But, if I think about it, the same effort would have been required for him to put a $7 bottle of Belgian Hefewhatever on the bar, and I wouldn't have batted an eye at tipping him a buck for that.

So: in a bar, I will henceforth tip based on effort, not price.

Now my question is: Is there a tip differential for the cocktail server who brings the $2 bottle of beer to my table? As compared to the bartender who can lift it out of the cooler and put it on the bar without moving his feet?

(And re: $2 beer. Yes, I am a cheap SOB who doesn't know what real beer tastes like. Sue me.)

4 comments:

Eve's Apple said...

I once had an intern who bartended at Avalon. She complained to me about people (in her case, usually rich co-eds running a tab on a credit card) undertipping. So I took the opportunity to ask her what is appropriate. She suggested $1 per drink, maybe a little more if you are getting drinks for you and your extended family. OK, Chris, this doesn't quite answer your "what do I tip for my cheap-but-oh-so-hip $2 beer" question. I guess I'd say $1 either way. And I'd tip the server the same that you'd tip the bartender. My former intern the bartender also informed me that if your friendly neighborhood bartender gives you a free drink, they will likely pay for it out of their tip jar, so tip for those free drinks, too!

My own personal tipping quandary was the parking valet at a wedding I went to last summer. I don't think I'd ever used valet parking before and had NO IDEA what to tip.

Perdu said...

Well, I don't think anyone would ever think that Busch Light is hip (at least I hope not). The Pabst Blue Ribbon (which is hip, although probably on the go-down now) is $3, but that's for a draft.

Glad to have the confirmation that $1 a drink is standard, even for cocktail servers. That's what I'll do from now on.

And I have a feeling I'm not, uh, attractive enough to get a free drink from a bartender. But maybe someday.

Valet parking: I did my first valet park last October at a hotel in Baltimore. I think I tipped about $3. The parker seemed neither impressed nor annoyed.

dirk said...

I know that I'm entering into this discussion rather late, but here's my 2 cents worth. That's it, 2 cents per drink. Well okay maybe that's a bit harsh. I tend to buy draft beer that runs ~$3.50-4.00 a pint. I leave ~50 cents/drink.

Bartenders earn a real wage (as opposed to waitstaff). They really aren't doing much to earn upwards of 30-50% for such a quick turnaround, so I have no problem leaving my 10-12%.

It's not my responsibility to make-up for the rich-tab-coeds undertipping. The bartender should simply steal their credit card numbers and earn back their tips shopping online.

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