HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

How much should I tip per bottle of beer? How long does a bottle of beer allow me to sit at the bar?

john333 Jun 27, 2010 11:24 AM

Just wanted to know the basic etiquette. This is assuming I order only beer and nothing else. Maybe this has been asked before...if I order one beer and the total with tax comes to $5.30 what is a reasonable tip? (this is for a bottle; I drink straight from the bottle so the bartender doesn't even have to pour). What if I order two beers and pay at the end?

How long am I "allowed" to sit at the bar if I buy only 1 beer? 2 beers? I suppose it depends on the size of the tip.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. soypower RE: john333 Jun 27, 2010 12:13 PM

    I would tip a minimum of $1 on any drink, but without food, I'd do $2.

    When nursing a beer (at a rate of about 1 beer/hour) while watching a game, it's acceptable to stay to the next half. So if one were to come in a little bit before the game and only order one beer, I'd personally feel obligated to move on at half-time or just buy another drink to nurse for the next half. Heck, buy the guy next to you a drink if you don't want to drink it yourself, but please order at least one drink per half.

    1. b
      bookhound RE: john333 Jun 27, 2010 12:17 PM

      As a semi-retired bartender I can tell you the norm is a dollar. It doesn't matter if it's a bottle or a tap beer you order. Once you have the beer you "own" that seat for as long as you're drinking that beer. If you want to nurse and drink a lukewarm beer for an hour or two? That's your prerogative.

      1. ipsedixit RE: john333 Jun 27, 2010 12:22 PM

        Depends on the kind of bar, the rapport you've built up with the bartender, how busy the bar is, etc.

        For me, minimum would be a $1.

        I wouldn't hang out for an hour (or more) with only one beer if the bar was busy.

        If the bar wasn't busy and I've chatted it up with the bartender, and have only ordered only one beer, I'd probably tip more than a $1 (for the company, if nothing else).

        1. Chemicalkinetics RE: john333 Jun 27, 2010 12:33 PM

          Around college campus, the rule is $1per service. That is $1if I order one beer or $1if I order two beer (one for me and one for my friend). If I order one beer now and one beer later, then it should be $1 tip for each service, so total of $2. If you are putting it on the tap and paying at the end, then give the $1 per service rule or ~XX% total, which ever is greater.

          It may be different for bars with an older crowd, but for college campus bars, that is the rule and I lived in three unversity areas for almost 15 years.

          For a not busy bar, you can sit as long as you like. For a busy bar, you should not sit longer than 1 hour per beer.

          1. WhatThePho RE: john333 Jun 27, 2010 06:02 PM

            I always tip a buck per drink...about three of my friends never tip (I know!) I suppose that's the way it goes.

            But along the same lines, is there ever a different amount you should tip, depending on price?

            For the sake of argument, let's just say the service is "all right" in all of these circumstances. Opinions, please.

            **Cheap beer. Like $.35 taps. Tip one dollar for a total of $1.35. I see many people do not tip at all on nights like these. Is it my obligation to make up for the rudeness of others? Have you ever tipped less when you paid less?

            **Expensive beer (or wine, or martini, or scotch). Like a tall specialty brew, something that costs me more than $6.00. Usually I order these when I'm eating out, and it's just put on the bill. Thus, that drink's tip total is around %20. Do you tip the standard one-spot or leave more?

            **Specially made drinks - at the bar-. I want my friendly bartender to whip something up custom, or ask a thousand questions about wine. A dollar? I'd be willing to tip more, but I don't think I ever really have.

            8 Replies
            1. re: WhatThePho
              Chemicalkinetics RE: WhatThePho Jun 27, 2010 06:20 PM

              You have 35 cent beer? In that case, it is odd to tip $1 for a 35 cent drink.
              I tip $1 for a $3 and I tip $1 for a $6 beer. Just me.
              I have never had a special drink, but I suppose one should tip a bit more if I am going ask a lot of questions.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                WhatThePho RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 27, 2010 06:34 PM

                It seems odd, doesn't it? But then I think about the fact that the bartender isn't able to serve em any faster just cuz they're cheaper. Not his fault the boss is giving beer away.

                Also, I've read that comped drinks or "ladies night" free drinks should be tipped the same as a paid drink.

                1. re: WhatThePho
                  Chemicalkinetics RE: WhatThePho Jun 27, 2010 08:29 PM

                  Yeah, that I agree. Free drinks still need to be tipped. I guess if those 35 cent beers are special night beer, then we should tip the same as normal. I just thought there are some really crappy beer that they were selling at 35 cent.

                  You know what? What if you ask for a glass of tap water. Do you tip a glass of tap water (which costs nothing)?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    WhatThePho RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 27, 2010 08:45 PM

                    Oh dear..I never have. Thanks for making me actually think about this, now I'm going to have to. I'm leaving before we're tipping per ice cube. ^_^

                    1. re: WhatThePho
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: WhatThePho Jun 27, 2010 08:58 PM


                      Actually I didn't.

                      When we were graduate students, we were cheap. I mean, com'on. Students do not exactly have much income. We were earning like $1200-1600 per month. Subtract out the rent, we don't have much. So when we order water, we always order with beer. Say you want water, then you will wait til one of your friends to order a beer, then you piggy-ride with your friend. In order word, your friend will go up and ask for one beer and one water, and only tip for the beer.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        WhatThePho RE: Chemicalkinetics Jun 27, 2010 09:01 PM


                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      jgg13 RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 26, 2010 02:37 PM

                      I tip on glasses of water, but it annoys me to the extent that if a friend wants a water while I'm buying a round, he's getting his own damned water. The bartender is doing the same amount of work pouring a glass of water as anything else.

                      1. re: jgg13
                        tastesgoodwhatisit RE: jgg13 Aug 11, 2010 02:50 AM

                        I often get a water at the same time as I buy the beer - it's not cheapness, it's simply to keep from getting dehydrated.

                        I also don't drink at a rate of one beer an hour, particularly if I'm there for a while or am drinking Belgian beers, otherwise I get too drunk too fast. Mind you, I usually order something to eat to go with the drinks.

              2. thew RE: john333 Jun 27, 2010 06:47 PM

                $1 per minimum. usually more if i'm running on a tab. the 3rd drink or so usually gets a bigger tip too.

                1. EricaS0328 RE: john333 Jul 20, 2010 02:19 PM

                  I am a bartender in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and I would definitely agree that $1
                  is fair per beer, sit in your seat as long as you want.
                  However, if you expect much more that small talk from the bartender, or you're flirting with the bartender, you should definitely tip more. I couldn't tell you how many times I had a guy leave me a dollar tip & then expect relationship advice or for my number so he can take me to dinner. No way buddy.

                  1. m
                    mojoeater RE: john333 Jul 20, 2010 07:09 PM

                    $1 per drink or 20%, whichever is more. I usually run a tab and tip 20% or more on the total bill. A lot more than 20% if the drinks were severely discounted.

                    If I cannot run a tab I'll either tip $1-$2 per trip to the bar or wait until I'm ready to leave and hand the bartender a $5, $10 or whatever I feel is appropriate. I prefer to do this if I intend to return, because the bartender is more likely to remember me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mojoeater
                      rworange RE: mojoeater Aug 12, 2010 04:58 PM

                      >>> $1 per drink or 20%, whichever is more.

                      Yep. That's how I do it.

                      I agree mostly with when you buy a drink you buy the seat if the restaurant is not busy. Otherwise, just be considerate of both the bartender, bar and other customers. Take as long as you need to enjoy your beer, but if you are just killing time, buy another, something else or free up the seat so others can have a brew and the joint can make some money.

                      One caveat ... sometimes you need to take cues from the bartender. If they are constantly asking if you want another then that joint does not encourage hanging out. Drink up and find another place that does.

                    Show Hidden Posts