Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Feb 7, 2011 09:30 AM

Tipping for Comped Drinks


I have a good friend who is a bartender at his dad's small billiards bar. I'm not hugely into the bar scene, but every few weeks a few other friends and I will head over there for a few drinks, a game or two of pool, and some conversation with some of the friendly regulars. Because we're friends of the bartender, our drinks (whether they be beer, my favorite screwdriver, or shirley temples) are always comped, and sometimes we get free food as well. I was there on New Year's Eve and I got a free glass of Moet.

My friend's dad pays his employees well, with all of his bartenders (not just his son) making $10 an hour, which is just about unheard of in my area. They also make really good tips, with my friend often coming home with close to $200 in cash on top of his paycheck. He makes a LOT more money than I do even before his tips, so I greatly appreciate the fact that he takes care of me whenever I come by. However, I feel weird totally taking advantage of the situation, so in the past I've thrown whatever I would likely have spent on the drinks in the tip jar -- usually $10 to $15 each night, both as a tip for his actual work and as a thank you for his kindness. However, $15 is almost twice my hourly wage, and my friend is already raking it in. Should I continue tipping the cost of the drinks, drop down to the standard bar-tip ($1-$2 a drink), or go somewhere in between? I don't want to be a mooch, but what's the point of getting free drinks if you're paying for them anyway?

  1. if they are comped the arent u paying for the service? not the drinks?
    even if its my friend i tip the server/waiter/bartender for the service..

    i fix cars for a living and even when i do side work for friends/family something for my time and tools and knowledge is good..i dont charge full price ...but something at least lets the person know u appreciate it

    1. How much he makes is irrelevant. You always tip on comps, better than normal.

      1. Since the bartender is your room mate or good friend talk to him about what you should do, since this sounds like a unique situation between friends.

        1. I have a good friend who is a bartender at his dad's small billiards bar........our drinks (whether they be beer, my favorite screwdriver, or shirley temples) are always comped, and sometimes we get free food as well.......
          Friends or not.......your friend is stealing from his go there knowing full well you will be comped. Offer to pay and leave an appropriate tip. If you continue to accept the free food and liquor, leave at least a $20.

          What you make and what your friend makes is irrelevant.

          7 Replies
          1. re: fourunder

            "is stealing from his father"

            Not necessarily. There are many places where staff are allowed to use discretion on comps and/or given a comp allowance.

            1. re: jgg13

              I would agree with you on policy for comp allowances for actual's arguable if the OP is an actual customer, as he has never paid for anything.

              1. re: fourunder

                You have to pay to be a customer? Of course- he's patronizing the establishment.

                1. re: monavano

                  If you or your party do not pay for anything ever, you are not customer and you are not patronizing (supporting) the father or his business. However, I will concede he is patronizing his friend the son and bartender. At best, he's a guest.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    But, a service is being provided and accepted. The act is the same. No money is exchanged, but you get more than money when you comp. You get good will, word of mouth etc.
                    It's a fine line - could go either way. Hmm.

                    1. re: monavano

                      Why don't we let the father and owner of the pool hall decide......:i.e., if he is receiving any actual benefit from this arrangement.


          2. Are you ordering these drinks?