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April 29, 2010

How much do you tip on a 99-cent drink?

the natty boh man will wink at you if you stare at him long  enoughI stopped by Singer's last night for a cold one on my way home from work, and ordered one of the bar's 99-cent Natty Bohs.

Since Singer's doesn't include tax in their drink prices (grrr), the total came to $1.05. I paused for a second.

How much should I tip on a beer that cost a buck? Another dollar? That's a lot of money, proportionately -- a 100 percent tip.

On the other hand, it's customary to tip at least a buck for any drink, regardless of the price, and I didn't want to come across as a prude.

What would you do? ...

In the end, I forked over another buck, which ended up being a stack of coins -- 95 cents, to be precise. The server tried to give it back to me, and I told her to keep it.

Even that choice left me feeling sleazy. Change? The best I could do was tell her to keep the change? Was I not man enough to give her a dollar bill?

I looked in my wallet, and only had a 10-spot. Making her break it for a tip would have been too much. So I sat there, sipping my Natty and watching poets recite their work at the far end of the bar.

I saw the Natty Boh Tower, which wasn't that impressive -- just a pyramid-shaped stack o' cans. But a buck for a Boh any time is a deal. Now if I could only figure out the best way to tip on it.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:01 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Not every purchase from a bartender deserves a tip. be it $0.95, $1, or more. The job description of a bartender includes recognizing the customer and providing the requested beverage. So a tip should not always be required. But good service should be rewarded! $1 or more. Sometimes $5.

uh oh. here comes the resurrection of the never-ending tip debate.

i would tip a buck. personally. but opinions on tips are like....

$1 every other Boh

I'd say tip a buck on the first one, and maybe nothing on the second if you don't know the bartender from Adam. Or $1 for a round of 2 beers.

When I tended bar, I never minded tips in change. It just goes from the jar to the register and gets put in my pocket in bill form at the end of the night.

I tip a buck a drink no matter what.

Run a tab - figure it out later

I agree with Josh. you order a Boh, just plunk down $2 and be done with it. However drunkrichard brings up a good point. What if you're running a tab and go through 11 beers. You going to leave an $11 tip?

If you're paying as you go, I agree to just give $2 and be done with it. If you just say something like "there you go" when the server collects I doubt they will bring change.

If you are running a tab, I have no problem tipping $11 for 11 beers. You look at the big picture and you are still paying a total of $22 for those 11 beers. Still a great deal.

I had a similar case the other night at a happy hour in DC. It was $3 Guinness night. I ordered 4, but the bartender gave me one for free. I had no problem tipping $6 on a $9 tab.

Which leads me to a post idea. Sam you should do something on how to tip when you get drinks on the house. It's hard to know sometimes how to take those freebees into account.

@Mikepcfl -- Done it already:

My strategy would be to order two at a time and tip a dollar.

kateebee -- Brilliant! Or you could just order five beers, whip out your keys, jab each beer can, shotgun them one by one, scream EEEYAAAAHHH!!!!! and run out of the place as fast as you can without paying for anything. I call that "Tuesday night."

I tip $1 per beer, and $1-1.50 for a mixed drink (since that requires more work than taking a cap off of a beer, or pouring one). This works out better in the bartender's favor to pay drink-by-drink. If I was to have a tab, then I typically tip 20% off the total.

If you pay as you go, a buck a drink is about right, 99 cents or 10 bucks, dollar tip. It takes time to go back and get change.

If you have a tab, I would generally tip 30-35% for boozes. Food gets the 20-30% tips...

Sam, sounds like a good Tuesday night to me. I prefer flabongos to shotguns though. ('re welcome).

It's always a good common practice to tip on what the bill would have been. When a bar has a special or happy hour and the bill is half of what it usually would be, a 20% tip turns into a 10% tip.

I'd give her $2 and say, "there ya go...." If she put .95 in coin on the bar I would leave it there.

Here's a tip for ya:
Never try to fill a cat with helium!

Your first problem is "why am I drinking Natty Boh?" I mean, it's only April. Later in the year, yes, any liquid will be welcome, but now?

@Katebee -- Oh snap the flabongo just rocked my world! Hee hee!

@Mr Noh -- are you accusing me of ... drinking out of season?!?!?!

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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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