What Tip is Appropriate when BYOB?
Along a similar line, I made reservations at a restaurant for both their wine tasting followed by dinner. We were treated to a flight of five Chards (FR and Cal), plus nibblies to go along with the tasting. The bartender kept re-filling the tasting glasses (Riedel Bdx. stems, with about a 2oz. pour), and the fried mustard-crusted flounder kept coming. The bartender knew his wines, and was an excellent resource for these five. When our reservation time arrived, I went to settle the bill. “It’s complementary,” he quipped. OK, we’ve just done five doubles of higher-end Chards, plus about three courses of finger-food. Quickly, I did the math, based on what I would likely have paid at other restaurants, closer to home. I slipped him US$30 for his efforts, plus a bit to cover the servers, who had kept us in food for about two hours.
The only complaint that I had for the entire evening was that the mustard-crusted flounder was NOT on the restaurant’s menu, and it appeared that we had eaten all that the kitchen had.
I apply the same general terms to tipping on BYOW, or on a gift-certificate. I calculate what the cost would have been, and then tip on that.
I know you are talking about restaurants that have wine lists but here in NJ we seem to have a special situation with BYO restaurants. Legally, they are forbidden to charge corkage fees (though some try to get away with it). When I take a bottle of wine to these restaurants, I usually add an extra 5% or so to the tip, usually less if all they do is open the bottle and supply the glasses.
re: Chicago Mike
A disclaimer first:
Due to technical problem with the CH board, that the help desk has been unkind enough to ignore so far,
)I'm posting this as reply to another reply, instead of posting as reply to the OP.
Back to the thread now.
This one I do very frequently: whenever the waiter waves the corkage, I add that amount to the tip.
This is pretty much a hornet's nest, depending so much on the restaurant (not just the policy, but the attitude towards it), the wine service, the price of the food, the price of the winelist, familiarity with owners and wait staff, etc.
Like Whiner, most of the time, I'll just include the corkage as part of the tab and add anywhere from a few bucks up to maybe $10 on top of the tip. This should be acceptable everywhere. I've never experienced any semblance of displeasure from the wait staff when I've done this. Maybe I've just been extremely lucky with service.
On the other hand, another common but more complicated situation arises when the restaurant, either of the waiter person's own volition, or on the part of management to its regular and familiar customers, waives the corkage fee altogether. This happens frequently at one of the restaurants I visit often, where they will often waive the corkage if it is clear my friends and I are celebrating a special ocassion, or if we've already run up a significant tab at dinner (It does seem a little silly and leaves a very slightly bitter taste in my mouth when four of us run up an $800 dinner tab for the restaurant to charge me an addition $15 corkage, but that could just be me). In this situation, I generally tip the amount of the corkage, or $20, whichever is greater. If decanters and various stemwares for different bottles were involved, I've gone as high as $30/bottle.
Really, it depends upon the restaurant and the circumstance. For good wine service (decnaters upon request, good stemware, new glasses for new wines) I feel uncomfortable pretending that the wines I brought were any les than $50 off of the list. So, say, if corkage is $20/bottle, I'll tend to tip at least $6/bottle on top of a standard 20% tip on the bill. Other times I'll just leave like a 25%-30% tip. It all depends upon the situation. I just feel like servers shouldn't loose out because I decided to bring my own wine... and at restaurants I frequent, I want the servers to LIKE serving me... and I almost always BYO.
This topic has come up before and what is funny is every single person always has a different answer...
One thing I neglected to mention in my post, should the amount differ if the restaurant does not have a license, so all wine is bring your own? This is the case in many states, including AZ where I live. Last week in California, where licensed srestaurants can allow outside liquor, we brought a bottle...service was good, tipped 30% + corkage.