9 Things Bartenders Wish You Knew About Tipping


Tipping has been an integral part of the service industry for decades, and bartenders are no exception. While tipping etiquette may vary from one culture to another, there are certain universal principles that bartenders wish their patrons understood better. In this article, we’ll explore nine things bartenders wish you knew about tipping, shedding light on the importance of gratuity in the bartender’s world.

1. Tipping is Appreciated, Not Mandatory

Let’s start with the basics: tipping is not a requirement, but it is greatly appreciated. Bartenders work hard to ensure you have a pleasant experience, from mixing your favorite cocktail to providing excellent customer service. While it’s ultimately up to you whether or not to tip, remember that gratuities often make up a significant portion of a bartender’s income.

2. Tip Based on Service Quality

The amount you tip should reflect the level of service you received. If your bartender went above and beyond to accommodate your requests, show your appreciation with a more generous tip. Conversely, if the service was lacking, consider leaving a smaller tip or providing constructive feedback to help improve future experiences.

3. Cash Tips are Preferable

While many establishments now offer the option to tip using credit or debit cards, cash tips are still preferred by most bartenders. Cash tips provide instant gratification and allow bartenders to take home their earnings at the end of their shift without waiting for processing or deductions. If you can, always tip in cash to ensure your bartender receives their full gratuity.

4. Tip Even for Free Drinks

It’s a common misconception that you don’t need to tip when receiving complimentary drinks. However, bartenders still put in time and effort to serve you, regardless of whether you’re paying for your drinks or not. When you receive a free drink, consider tipping based on the regular price of the beverage to show your appreciation for the service provided.

5. Don’t Forget About Bartenders in Group Settings

When you’re out with a group of friends, it’s easy for individual tips to get overlooked, especially if you’re splitting the bill evenly. However, bartenders typically serve multiple customers simultaneously, and their efforts should be recognized accordingly. Make sure to factor in gratuity for the bartender when calculating your portion of the bill, or leave a separate tip if you’ve been served separately.

6. Tip Regardless of the Drink Complexity

Whether you order a simple beer or a complex craft cocktail, the effort put forth by the bartender remains the same. Don’t base your tip solely on the complexity of your drink; instead, consider factors such as attentiveness, friendliness, and overall service quality. A thoughtful tip acknowledges the bartender’s efforts beyond just the drink itself.

7. Be Mindful of Happy Hour Discounts

During happy hour or other promotional periods, drink prices may be discounted to attract more customers. However, this doesn’t diminish the value of the service provided by the bartender. Even if you’re paying less for your drinks, remember to tip based on the original price or the quality of service you received.

8. Tip Even When Ordering Food

In establishments that serve both drinks and food, bartenders often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities, including taking food orders and ensuring timely service. If you order food at the bar, remember to tip your bartender accordingly, as they are still providing a service beyond simply pouring drinks.

9. Spread Kindness and Appreciation

Above all, remember that tipping is not just about monetary compensation; it’s also a way to show gratitude for the hard work and dedication of bartenders. A friendly smile, a sincere thank you, or a word of appreciation can go a long way in brightening a bartender’s day. Spread kindness and appreciation whenever you can, and your bartender will undoubtedly appreciate it.


Tipping is a customary practice that plays a vital role in the livelihood of bartenders. By understanding and adhering to proper tipping etiquette, you can ensure that your bartender feels valued and appreciated for their efforts. Whether you’re enjoying a night out with friends or grabbing a quick drink after work, remember to tip generously and spread kindness wherever you go. Your bartender will thank you for it.

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