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How Much Should You Tip a Bartender?

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How much you should tip a bartender depends on how many drinks you had, how much you talked to the bartender, and more.

How much you should tip a bartender depends on how many drinks you had, how much you talked to the bartender, and more.

If you are in a bar, and you spend most of the evening at the bar itself, you might find yourself chatting away with the bartender. For most people, that is a common experience of being in a bar. Bartenders are skilled in both mixology and the lost art of conversation – they are part service experts, part agony aunt/uncles.

Bartenders are there to serve you drinks, but most of them take pleasure in hearing the crazy stories of the bar's patrons. After a long night of advice from your local bar staff, though, you might feel like you should give them a little something for listening to you talk all night. With that in mind, then, you might be wondering how much you should tip a bartender.

And it is a good question, a question with far too many answers to really break down. For the most part, though, there are some general tips for tipping a member of your local bar or drinking spot.

Why Should You Tip Your Bartender?

The first reason is common courtesy. If you have spent all night telling this guy/girl about your problems, you are probably over-extending. Add in the fact that alcohol is involved, and you are probably telling them a little bit more than you may have intended. With that being the case, you might wonder what they actually get out of listening to you all evening.

Have you ever worked in retail? Have you ever had to stand there and ‘mhm’ your way through a crazy conversation with an unhinged shopper? Then you know how hard this can be for someone in a position of employment. They can’t exactly tell you to be quiet, but they can’t exactly ignore other patrons go give you hours’ worth of advice. So, when they do stop to chat, they are usually doing so due to a mix of personal choice and professional duty.

Think about how you feel, though, when you get stuck talking to someone when you are sober. You can find that they make little sense, that they can be very indulgent with their storytelling, and that they can be quite liberal with the truth. So, now that you are on the other side of this conversation, hopefully, you can see why so many people choose to tip the bar staff.

They have listened to you all night and may even have given you some useful advice that you could put into action. They have given you their time, even when they should probably be cleaning the bar or taking care of other people. In short, they have been willing to listen to you all night and have continued to give you service with a smile.

If that isn’t worth a tip, then we really aren’t sure what is!

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How Much Do You Need to Tip a Bartender?

So, you came here for an answer, and we will give it to you. Typically, you should be looking to leave a tip that is relevant to the evening’s entertainment. If you spent an hour or so at the bar and had a few funny chats with the bar staff, leave a 10–15% tip. If you spend a couple of hours there and engaged in a bit of proper conversation, up that to around 15–20%.

If you managed to spend all evening hanging around the bar, though, you should really try to think big on your tip. Bar staff are there all night, and they often get paid an absolute pittance for what is essentially a job of babysitting drunk people. For an evening of entertainment put on in good faith by the bar staff, you should probably look to add on something in the region of 30–50% of your bar tab cost.

That might seem like a lot, but think about what you get out of talking to bar staff all night. Many people have had their relationships fixed, their employment prospects changed, or just their general moods lifted. That could be priceless; adding on a few extra bucks as a tip to the bar staff is simply common courtesy.

Of course, make sure you don’t assume that with a large tip you become a special customer or that you can overstep your boundaries. Even if you tip 100% of what you have paid, which would be in the extreme end of tipping bar staff, don’t think you can make demands or make a big deal about the fact you left a tip.

Tips are given when you feel like the person has treated you well and/or helped you; don’t make it something to hold over the staff. That defeats the purpose of tipping entirely.

Tips don't always need to be monetary; here are a few alternatives to tipping with money.

Tips don't always need to be monetary; here are a few alternatives to tipping with money.

Alternatives to Tipping

Tipping doesn't necessarily have to be monetary, especially when it comes to bartenders. It's quite regular that you can buy them a drink as well if they want it and are permitted to drink it, and if not, they can just keep the change that you would have gotten them the drink with.

Do I Need to Tip My Bartender?

Of course, if you don't feel like you want to tip, please don't feel like it is compulsory. If you do tip, it should be very much appreciated and accepted as an overall general acknowledgement of work that's been done well, especially considering a lot of the negatives that come with the bartender's job. Plus, slipping a tip in might just get you seen to a little bit faster, as the bartender knows you're prone to tipping.

Please share your experiences with tipping bartenders in the comments section below. Is it something you do regularly, and, if so, for how much? If not, why not? Are there certain circumstances that make it more likely to tip than another circumstance?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Russel Garret

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