How Much to Tip Your Bartender

You sit down at a hot new bar and order a drink. The bartender makes it, you pay and then there’s that nagging feeling: Did I tip enough? Did I tip too much?

How much to tip is perhaps the most difficult dilemma you’ll encounter while on the town—besides deciding what to have. To help you out, we turned to’s illustrious advisory board. Together, this group of mixological luminaries has decades of experience behind the stick, and we got some great advice.

First off, tip a percentage of the tab, not a flat rate. Dushan Zaric, Allen Katz and Jim Meehan recommend leaving at least 20 percent, no matter if you’re ordering beer in a dive or a fancy mixed drink at a high-end lounge. Gary Regan is even more generous: Tip “as much as you can possibly afford,” he says.

A few situations merit extra tipping. If it’s happy hour and drinks are discounted, Zaric suggests dropping at least $2 per beverage, while Katz says a tip of 25 percent is appropriate. And if you’re lucky enough to get a freebie, Katz says to add a minimum $5 to what you’d have tipped if you’d had to pay for it.

However, tipping extra on the your first round isn’t necessary—“a large first tip (followed by smaller tips) suggests you want special treatment as a guest,” Meehan says, but “a well-run bar with a good bartender should not solicit or encourage this type of tipping.”

There’s also no reason to tip more generously if you’re paying with a credit card versus leaving cash. And if you see a tip jar on the bar, ignore it: Both Zaric and Katz prefer to leave their tips on the bar, as this lets staff keep better track and properly divide up tips at the end of the shift.

What if you get bad service? Be gracious. “Remember what goes around comes around,” Zaric says. “I sucked once, too, and people still tipped me.” Eventually, he got better: The best tip Zaric ever received was a whopping $1,000! To be fair, it was on a $1,000 tab.

From our Friends



  • chrisireland.217ec6 posted 3 months ago

    And don't ask for separate checks for fucks sake!

  • ccaddy1gmailcom574812355 posted 5 months ago

    To all you people who think bartending, and serving is an easy job, to justify your non-tipping, here's a message for you. You wouldn't be able to handle the job. It's much harder than you think. You are cheap, stingy, nasty, and really, really stupid. You have no idea what goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant except what you see. Tipping is how bartenders and servers make a living. They use this money to clothe their children, pay rent, utilities, etc, etc. We are tired of idiots like you, most of whom are demanding and rude, attempting to justify not tipping. What you are really is really simple. Cheap, stupid, entitletards!!!

  • laughordiehotmailcom631562979 posted 10 months ago

    Me: I wonder if this article was written by a bartender? You: Ya think? The people quoted in this article obviously spend way too much of their down time sampling their own concoctions.

  • tp12marynowskisbcglobalnet1123 posted 11 months ago

    And by the way, restaurants and bars are already charging us double and triple the price of what it cost them for liquor.

  • tp12marynowskisbcglobalnet1123 posted 11 months ago

    You know we're not all Effen millionaires

  • kayya12.1f09ed6 posted 1 year ago

    For all of you who do not believe in tipping and that the servers should just "deal with it" or "get a new job" clearly do not even know why servers make such a low hourly wage and why they rely on tips from customers for payment. I will enlighten you. If companies paid servers a normal hourly wage (and normal raises) the prices of your drinks and meals would be triple the price. So you should actually be thankful that you even have a choice to a decent, empathetic consumer rather than paying 50$ for a cheese burger and fries. People that do not "believe in tipping" regardless of service should instead, then, be charged the price their meal and drinks would have been if their server was paid a normal wage, oh, and they should go fuck themselves.

  • duhast posted 2 years ago

    For servers and bartenders [FOH] you have a base wage and then tips. Owners want FOH staff who can handle a high volume. The more high volume capable staff you have the less labor you have to spend on. In a margins business keeping your labor dollars low is important. The incentive for staff to want to take on high volume [i.e work more efficient and hard and take minimal breaks if any] is to take in TIPS. Without tips there is no incentive other than to keep your job.

  • angele.landries posted 3 years ago

    Where are you people getting the notion that the server has to pay taxes on that alcohol. There is a sales tax that pays for the taxes on the alcohol. The server only has to pay taxes on their tips and hourly wage. Not how much the customer spends in the restaurant.

  • angele.landries posted 3 years ago

    JORDAN... Oh, please. I used to serve and you only have to pay taxes on what income you earn. After all it IS called INCOME taxes. The customer already pays a tax (used to be 8.5%) for pre-prepared food. So no, the server does not have to pay taxes on sales. The customer does that with the consumer tax on the receipt. Get your facts straight. The server only has to pay taxes on their income, and their income only consists of their hourly wages and tips. Many servers (illegally) only pay taxes on their hourly wages and don't even report tips because there is no way for the government to prove how much they made in tips. Therefore even if a server gets audited it would be impossible for the IRS to say they owe any money for the tips that were not reported, because the IRS can't prove how much the server made in tips.

  • terdelou posted 4 years ago

    You know what your right! We should stay home and drink and then perhaps an asshole like you will be out of a job, because obviously you've must have been stiffed a few (oops did I say a few) HA a bunch of times due to your such SWEET (*cough cough*) personality. Go to Hell and Hell no I would NEVER EVER tip fully if the person doesn't deserve it, and if I had a person like you, I would NEVER tip. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Ahole!

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