Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to tip a bartender

Most Americans know the proper amount to tip on a restaurant food bill. It's 20% and anything less looks cheap and mean. That's because service industry workers in the U.S. are paid about $2.18 to $5 an hour from their employers and that's it. That's right: American restaurant owners don't pay their staff a living wage because the guests are supposed to make up the difference through tipping. That's why restaurant tips no longer have anything to do with the level of service. Even if you're mad at your server, please don't make it any harder for them to pay the rent.

But do you wonder how tipping works in an American bar? I've consulted with an expert in the field, my cousin who's spent over five years as a full-time bartender at a fine establishment. According to Troy, bartenders are also looking to make 20% in tips on the drinks they serve during a shift. (The way you tip a bartender is to leave the tip on the bar when you take your drink.) If you order a drink that's $5 or less, please leave the bartender a dollar bill. If you order a more expensive drink, the tip depends on the price and the amount of work the bartender does.  For example, if the bartender pours you one ounce of a decent single malt scotch, please tip $1 or $2. Another example is if you order a $15 cocktail for which the bartender muddles/blends three ingredients. In that case, please tip $2 to $3. 

That's the word from Troy, but here's a little-known fact that I'll throw in: it’s a good idea to tip the bartender even when you’re not paying for your drink. At a free open bar at a fundraiser or wedding there might or might not be a tip jar, but don't let that stop you. Leave a dollar on the bar when you take your free-to-you beer or wine. The bartender deserves it for doing the work and you will look startlingly cool and hip to her or him.

Tipping! It's not just an American tradition. It's how people feed their children.

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