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A Guide to Tipping Bartenders

(post, Luke Hull)

It might seem like a no-brainer, but there is perhaps nothing more important when visiting a bar than tipping bartenders. That man or woman behind the counter is working his or her tail off, and they deserve some compensation. 

They also happen to be a customer’s best friend, so it is important to keep them happy. However, it can be a real challenge to determine exactly how much to tip, when to tip and what to expect when someone does tip well. Read on for a quick guide to getting started. 

Why tip at all
Most bartenders and servers make minimum wage and rely on tips to pay their bills. This is pretty much the industry standard and while it might not be fair, it means that it is up to restaurant and bar patrons to support the hardworking people who are serving them. 

If someone cannot afford to at least offer a bare minimum tip, that person should likely not be going out in the first place. If the service is bad, then yes, a smaller tip is acceptable. But leaving no tip at all is a major faux pas. 

Tipping when paying in cash

When paying in cash, a tip is generally expected every time the bartender serves a drink. The common practice is tipping at least a dollar per drink ordered. However, this should increase if expensive cocktails have been ordered. A good rule of thumb is if the Manhattan cost $10, tip at least $2. 

Some might say that’s a lot of money, and it can add up quickly, that’s for sure. But tipping well will ensure large pours and will also make the bartender more likely to serve the generous patron first when it gets busy. A good strategy for tipping bartenders is to always pay for the first drink in cash and leave a big tip, which will get the night started on the right foot.

Tipping at the end of the night

The general rule of thumb for tipping bartenders when paying with a credit card is similar to going out to eat: when the bill comes, do some quick mental math and give out at least a 15 percent tip. However, that is the bare minimum. If the bar is a local, West Linn pub favorite and regularly frequented, be generous and bump that up to around 20 percent. 

This might help ensure that on the next visit, that bartender will remember the patron and make sure to give him or her good service, or take extra care when mixing drinks.