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October 16, 2007

How much to tip?

I'm curious to know what you think about tipping your bartender.

When you're at a packed bar on a Saturday night, should you tip more than when you have the place to yourself on a Tuesday night?

If you ask for a bottle of Budweiser all the the bartender does is reach into a cooler, grab one, pop the top and hand it to you.

Do you tip him/her less than if you ordered a round of shooters made with multiple liquors?

Does more work on the bartender's part mean you're going to tip heavier?

What do you tip if you ask for a draft beer and it comes to $3.50? Do you tip $1.50? or just $1?

(David Hobby/Sun Photographer) 

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:18 AM | | Comments (41)


The busier it is, the less you tip. They aren't giving you any "service", they're just moving down the line.

The easier the drink, the less you tip. Opening a beer bottle doesn't t deserve the same tip as making a drink.

As a rule of thumb, I ALWAYS start a tab at any bar I go to. Never pay for each beverage one by one.

If I get 6 beers at $3 dollars a pop (18 total) I would probably leave 4 dollars.
That is close to a 20% tip.

Now, if it dollar natty bohs...

My standard tip for a purchasing a beer at a bar (nearly always drafts) is $1. It doesn't matter what the cost of the beer is or what night it is.

When getting more than 1 at a time it depends a little bit. 2 beers might mean $2 or might be $1 depending on price and what the change comes as.

I dont' tip. I don't believe in it. They don't make enough money they can quit. I don't tip because society says i have to. This tipping automatically is for the birds. Put to a vote and I'll vote for it, but I won't do is play ball. I mean you don't tip the person waiting on you at McDonalds, right? It's Ok to tip some people but not others? This is the worlds smallest violin and it's playing for the servers.

how about from a bartenders view? are you fans of how mostly everyone uses credit cards now? i'm sure there are pros and cons of people using cards vs. cash but i'm not sure what people prefer

A buck a beer. And if I'm drinkin' the booze, a little more, prolly. When I've run a tab, I'm usually too drunk to figure out the right tip. So I overtip, figuring I'll get a little som'n extree next time.

giordano doesn't tip. classy.

J.M. -

you convinced me - give me my dollar back.

Then there's the school of thought that if you tip well early in the night, you get better service as the night goes on (and on future nights). Does this ever work?

JMG posted: I dont' tip. I don't believe in it. They don't make enough money they can quit.

My reply: I don't know what it is like elsewhere, but here in NC the bartenders are paid 2.00 per hour, just like the wait staff. The reason for this is because the owner knows full well they will be getting tips. In other words, if you don't tip, I don't get paid - end of story.

@ Heinz: as far as I'm concerned they're just doing their job. I mean they're making minimun wage. I used to have a job making minimum wage, and when I did, I wasn't lucky enough to have a job that society deemed tip-worthy.

@ Doug: ;-)

Hey Doug. Where I live they don't even get minimum wage. They get 2.00 an hour, so when they get a paycheck there is nothing on there due to deductions.
I also had to take a mixology course that costed my 750 dollars. The only way I get paid is via tips.

hey, if they want tips, they can head on down to the circumcision ward at Johns Hopkins and get all the tips they want!

Don't gimme that "college" BS, I got one thing to say to that :"learn to friggin' type"

Wow Doug, people who don't tip really are jerks.

screw all that. It sux that the governement taxes their tips, that ain't my fault. It would appear that servers are one of the many groups the govt. screws with on a regular basis. I mean show me a peice a paper that says the govt shouldn't do that and I'll sign it, but if you're lookin to me to help out with the rent you're in for a big friggin' surprise.

Anybody ever seen 'Reservoir Dogs?'

Might help you understand where JM's coming from ...

Let's see: Nice Guy Eddie: C'mon, throw in a buck!
Mr. Pink: Uh-uh, I don't tip.
Nice Guy Eddie: You don't tip?
Mr. Pink: Nah, I don't believe in it.
Nice Guy Eddie: You don't believe in tipping?
Mr. Blue: You know what these chicks make? They make $%&#@.
Mr. Pink: Don't give me that. She don't make enough money that she can quit.

My Reply: It's not that I "don't make enough"...I don't make anything from my boss. The wait staff and bartenders in the South at least don't get any take home pay from their establishment. They get paid by tips - that is the only way they get paid.
If you're not going to tip the bartender then there is no reason for me to bartend. I could simply get another job elsewhere where I don't have to take an expensive course, one with better hours, and one where I am not held legally liable if you screw up on the way home.

Heinz -

I tip. I tip especially well when it's deserved (I waited tables for tips in my time). I was just doing the next line in the movie.

i been bartending a while now. like 11 years. all 7 bartending gigs that i have worked have paid me between the wages of $2.13 and minimum wage relying all on tips to make money. The IRS makes us report our tips so we are being taxed a percentage. so a tip is not a gift anymore!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND PEOPLE! At the minimum, at least leave a dollar. HELP. All you have to do people is leave at least 20 percent or minimum 1 dollar. thats all we ask. if you are at a classy place then you know to tip maybe 4, 5, 6, or even 20 dollars, depending on the check total. we are just trying to make a living and everything helps. leave a dollar if that is all you can afford. you will get better service from a bartender.

I almost choked on my $3.50 domestic bottle when I read this entry and the comments that followed. Then I realized this entry was from before I even became a MS reader. I feel like there should be a statute of limitations on my going off about a post over a year old. But I will say this, hopefully the year that has past has mellowed you non tipping "the busier they are the less you tip" jokesters out. And if not come to my bar and I'll enlighten you on why your wrong. And I'll do this while providing you with awesome service with a smile-no matter how busy I get.

that's why you are the queen!!!

Thanks Jason!!!

I work based on tips. So I always overtip.

Lately though I've been blacking out at bars and walking out on tabs. Because I always say "hey i want to start a tab but pay cash".


WHY would anyone want work any job that the base salary didn't cover the bills.
Tipping is a reward for good service, and alot of servers are fairly medicore and rather indifferent.
It seems to be expecting rather alot to be tipped anything of consquence, if all, for purely opening a bottle.
Now demands on your talents as a mixologist is a different situation. I guess tipping would be based on how good your at that.

I've heard of tipping to communicate that performance was unsatisfactory as well.
I knew a person who, at a restuarant, got such bad service that she left one penny for each of the diners in her party to express her great disdain at the service and to show she didn't merely forget.

"Shrinking beers, growing prices" makes an interesting companion piece

I know this comes late but I need to put my two cents in (no pun intended). When I was growing up, my dad tipped extremely well--the waitresses at the diner, the bartender, anywhere that we went regularly. I asked him once why he tipped so much and he told me that first of all, it made a relatively small difference to him but it makes a big difference to them AND it is the closest thing to being treated like royalty when you walk into a place and the servers know you are going to take care of them.

were you non-tipping idiots raised in a cave? hellooooo, it's called the mother [bleeping] SERVICE industry. i don't open beers and mix drinks for a hobby - it's my job. and the tip you leave me is my pay. who in god's name can make a living off $2.60 an hour? what is wrong with you freaks?

Agree ... it's called the SERVICE industry, so I'll pay a fair price for the service provided. When it takes 15 minutes for you to get me a Miller Lite bottle and pop the lid off, that SERVICE you're providing is worthy of a quarter.

Nobody forces you to bartend. World needs ditch diggers.

Wow-I can't believe the arrogance and extreme self-centered attitude of some of the posters here.
Things have changed people: restaurants now require employees who receive tips to report them, and taxes are taken out of that tip income. If you don't leave a tip, they don't get an income, simple as that.
I wish that I could go to your employers and ask them to hold your salary so that you would work for less than minimum wage. Let's see how you would like that.
And as to your attitude of "if you don't like it, get another job", who is going to wait on you when you are hungry or thirsty and ignorant?

Susan WSNAJ ,

You selected this profession, ergo your at the mercy of both your employer and who you serve, basically by choice. You get to live in hope that people will be appreciative, and generous or at least fair, but that’s the service industry called waiting, and dealing with the general public. Ignorant or not, people want to feel the get good valve for their money

If employers couldn't get good wait staff or enough wait staff to run their businesses effectively, they would have change how they pay their employees. It is rather mean that an employer in this industry doesn't reward their best staff with a real salary. Since ya'll, as group, continue to tolerate is it, it will never change. Until then the other opinion for the dissatisfied, change professions.

Ignorant or not, people want to feel the get good valve for their money.

There are a fair amount of wait staff in my recent experience who have provided lackluster performance and attitude who just aren't worthy of any tip, their performance is less than you would get from a fast-food, minimum wage counterperson, so tipping them FEELS like paying an unspoken and socially required tax, but I still do to a usually 15% and hope I don’t get this person the next time, … assuming the food is worth returning for.

There are a fair amount of wait staff in my recent experience who have provided lackluster performance and attitude who just aren't worthy of any tip, their performance is less than you would get from a fast-food, minimum wage counterperson, so tipping them FEELS like paying an unspoken and socially required tax, but I still do to a usually 15% and hope I don’t get this person the next time, … assuming the food is worth returning for.

it's still unfair to make a sweeping generalization though. for even the best servers, it takes a ridiculous amount of effort just to slap a smile on for your next table, after getting no tip off of a 10 top. when i'm at work it's likely that i'm not chipper and upbeat every second, even when talking to clients. really, a nice attitude is just an added bonus. i can't remember tipping my last cabbie because he talked to me the entire time.


First, I did say MY RECENT EXPERIENCE, so it isn't a sweeping generalization.

Second, dealing with an obliviously bored or disgruntled person, from were the average patron stands, isn't particularly worthy of a generous tip, if any, particularly if you have witnessed several other patrons arrive and order after you then get their order before you or give them special attention because their, persumely, regulars.

"a nice attitude is just an added bonus", it also enchances the tip given.

The bottom, it's showtime and you have to put over an award worthy performance. If your* having a crappy day, it should largely be unnoticeable to how you serve your customer. The patron has to feel good about giving bonus or reward for dealing with their server. They don't need to take the stance to the tip server automaticly.

* of course, if it is someone you have a favorable history, your less likely to let it influence your decision making.

does anyone else have a problem with overtipping when they drink too much??? I'm completely serious, my friends give me grief about it all the time...i'll start our tipping a buck or two a drink and then BAM I've spent my whole wad..So bascically my bartender knows to overserve's a vicious cycle...


It would be better to keep this under wraps. Not really something to go public with as it's not best admission to enchance your reputation.


I think you will find this of interest.

An acquaintance of mine works at a local steakhouse. A recent party she* waited on, largely solo, comprised three large tables and spent over $800.00. When the woman paid the bill for the party, she included a tip of only $20.00. She then inquired if she did anything wrong, the woman calmly replied “No, but twenty dollars is all you’re gettin”. She rejoined with, “Don’t ever come back to this restaurant”. Incensed the woman demand to speak with the manager. After the situation was explained to the manager, he told her “No, don’t ever come back.

Not every tipping injustice goes unpunished.

* she’s very good at keeping orders straight and being attentive. Several groups who often have affairs there usually request her specifically.

J.M. Giordano<<< your a piece of crap, please do me a favor and next time you go to the bar tell the bartender your not gonna tip him and see what kinda service you get. i bartend and i make 3 an hour, i pay my bills off of serving people. If my company or any bartending gig for that matter paid a quality wage then i could care less if people tiped, but fact is they dont and its worthless people like you that come in and are demanding wasting my time and attention and then walk off not leaving anything. For all the bartenders in the world, please grow up and act like a man.

yes kiddenvy..I am here...if you wish to besmirch my good name in some way there's a Gutter entry on here. Please use that. Don't soil a perfectly good tipping post!

.. I love bartending... its awesome

no tip, no service, when its 600+ people in a club and 4 bartenders you'll tip or be thirsty:) theres always enough people for me to ignore you


You got it backward, unless you think bartenders should be bribed into serving people. That sort of place is a somewhere never to go to again, at least sane people wouldn't, or maybe just ignore you or any place where you're employed if you work that way. A great way to build a reputation and repeat business. Anyplace with 600+ people in a club with only 4 bartenders is a good place to stay away from in the first place.

Remember it's supposed to be a reward for service already rendered and trouble in getting service inspires trouble being generous in tipping.

shocked and appalled - so get a real job like the rest of freaks where tipping is unknown.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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