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Open bar - should you tip the bartender

I am throwing a party for my wife and I am covering the bar tab. I want to better understand if the bartender should expect tips from the patrons or if I need to add that on top at the end of the night.

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  1. This might sound greedy, but it's probably both. My reasoning is that some patrons will tip as normal, but a sizable percentage will not tip at all or tip very little(I am a bartender and it seems that the cheaper things get, the more you give away, the stingier people tend to get with gratuities. Some weird thrifty psychology kicks in or something....). I think it's the hosts responsibility to get the total tip up to 20% for the bartender. Of course this is a "by the seat of your pants" type situation....you're going to have to just guess a bit and try to do the right thing.

    1. Only if he/she was really over the top in service, otherwise, your guests will most likely (hopefully) tip the bartender, so no need. The establishment will also tack on a fixed gratuity for groups of X or more, right?

      4 Replies
      1. re: BiscuitBoy


        Gratuity is almost always added to the final bar tab, to be paid by the host. Open bar guests are not expected to tip, since the bar is "hosted", but many give a few bucks here and there.

        1. re: invinotheresverde

          From observing other bar patrons, my buddies, and myself....everyone throws the bartender a buck at an open bar...ymmv

          1. re: BiscuitBoy

            I do the same, but the host is expected to cover the gratuity.

            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              In my experience that has more to do with the guests either not realizing the gratuity is included or they're semi-aware but want to be sure.

              I usually do a little bit in that I'll throw in a couple of bucks here and there but I'm not rigorous about it like I am at a real bar.

        2. When I throw a party I pay for the party. Since this is an open bar and not a cash bar it is my responsibility to pay the gratuity. I have instructed bartenders to turn down any and all tips and that if they accept any tips there will be severe consequences up to and including a significant reduction in my payment. They must tell anyone who offers, "your host has taken care of everything and i can not accept a tip."

          38 Replies
            1. re: kmcarr

              What does that response even mean?

              1. re: princeofpork

                it means kmcarr really really agrees with jfood
                usually posters just put +1 if they agree but don't want to add anything else. the +10 is for emphasis.

                and I also +10 to jfood's response

            2. re: jfood

              I agree that it is the host's responsibility to pay for the gratuity, but I've always been curious as to why a host would tell the bartender there would be "severe consequences" for accepting additional tips.
              As a guest, if I see a tip jar out, I assume it is my responsibility to tip the bartender, or at least it is encouraged. If there is no tip jar, I assume the host is taking care of the bartender, however, if they go out of their way to do something extra for me, why can I not extend them a tip?
              I assume it is solely so that other patrons don't observe my tipping the bartender and assume they also have to tip? Is that it?

              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                The bartender's job is to service my guests equally, irrespective of upside. S/he already has been paid. A tip jar is not allowed and totally gauche. I do not want the bartender doing "something special" to get a tip if it means someone else might get less service. If you remove the incentive to differentiate service then noone should be treated differently. This is a private party I am hosting, money is not accepted by them in the same manner it would not be accepted by anyone who has be hired at a private party at my house.

                Hope that helps

                1. re: jfood

                  Wrongo, buddy. No one ever said by giving customer X amazing service that customer Y will receive less. There is always incentive to spend more time with certain guests, usually having nothing to do with money.

                  Sometimes bartenders simply spend extra time with certain guests. For example, if you ask me which bourbons we carry, a five minute discussion and taste test could begin. That's not because of a presumed tip, but because the guest is showing interesting in my favorite type of alcohol. Same goes if a guest orders a White Zin, which I don't carry, and I offer her a sample of the off-dry Riesling instead. A discussion/ Q and A could easily start on the spot. I would consider both of those situations doing "something special", would you not? They're not a standard as far as customer service goes.

                  There will always be just reasons to differentiate service, many of them having nothing to do with the tip. Think about it. You'd spend extra time with client Z if he was showing more interest than normal on one of your products, wouldn't you? Same goes for bartending. Believe it or not, most of us in the booze biz like what we do, and love answering questions and talking about what we sell.

                  That said, no, there should never be a tip jar at hosted events, which implies the guest should tip. If a guest want to shoot the bartender a fin for going above and beyond, I don't see why you'd particularly care.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    hey invino! as a non-host next time I'm invited to a "catered affair" how do I request you're running things? heh.

                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      i never said it was an absolute, mathematical zero-sum game on service. I said I want to remove any incentive to give different service. In your example...what if the guy receives the information in round one and there is noone on line, therefore no harm no foul. and he slips the BT a $5. Next round, a little more crowded and BT knows Mr 5er is back and there is now a line. Another conversation occurs for a couple of minutes while the next in line sees the discussion and now a $10 passes hands. Two things have happened that I particularly care about about. 1 - the people in line behind had to wait longer and and 2 - they think they need to tip. We can come up with all sorts of examples, bottom line "Not Tip" accepted policy takes all that stuff off the table. If BT had told the first guy, "I am terribly sorry but the host has taken care of everything and we are not allowed to receive any tips." Poof, matter closed for the next round.

                      And as I have delineated below. I "particularly care" because it is the way I would like to have my party handled. Please note the pronouns are all first person. If the BT or the guy slipping money at their sponsored and paid event would like to run their party a different way, they have that option, but this is my party, my payment, my rules and they have been agreed to by all parties.

                      It may be an agree to disagree sorta subject.

                      Have a great weekend, I.

                      1. re: jfood

                        The honest answer is that barstaff won't do that if there's a line. You're a non-drinker and I'm a very (much more than I'd like to admit sometimes) experienced bartender. You just have to trust me on this.

                        As far as the people in line behind the tipper go, they're either going to tip or not. Seeing someone else do it won't change that. I'm telling you this from personal experience.

                        For example, if a bartender at a hosted bar makes me a great Negroni and takes a few seconds to chat, he's getting a twenty, even if he says there's a no tipping policy. I'd simply leave it on the bar or slide it partially under the napkin holder. I doubt very highly that any bartender would throw it in the trash.

                        My thought process is: control what you can control and let the small stufff go. You literally can't control this (restaurants/bars/function halls will not fire the bartender), so why make a big deal?

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          correct in that you cannot control everything which is why i really like the B-man suggestion on the charity.

                          1. re: invinotheresverde


                            as a fellow bartender your perception and experience are spot on! it is clear who understands and loves the industry and those who are merely served. props.

                      2. re: jfood

                        All vet bartenders worth anything will not show preferential service. I have people that give me 100 dollar tips but they don't get preferential treatment. If i make 500 in one night and one guy tips me 100 how stupid would i be to spend most of my time on 20% of my money. The only bartenders who kiss up to tippers are lazy bartenders.

                        1. re: SH4LIFE

                          You are saying that 99 percent of all bartenders are lazy?

                      3. re: hyacinthgirl

                        Should there even be a tip jar out if it's a "hosted" party with an open bar? If *I* were hosting, I'd see to it that there were no tip jars in sight.

                      4. re: jfood

                        I agree with you completely. In fact I recently hosted a business affair with an open bar. The contract stated that the bartenders, hat/coat check and parking valet could not accept tips. No tip jars/glasses/plates were to be present.
                        Small printed signs were placed on the bar, at the hat/coat check and at the valet desk that read:
                        Your host has provided gratuities to our staff, please do not tip as it may not be accepted. Any tips left will be donated to charity.

                        At the end of the evening, the party manager came to me with $23 in cash that had been left by my guests and asked which charity the restaurant should make a check to.

                        The establishment handled this well, some of my guests just insist on showing off or ignoring rules.

                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                            $1 per coat/hat checked, $2 per car (these personnel were also serving 'regula'r restaurant guests), $50 per bartender (these were also paid 'party' rates for exclusive service for my party, not their lower hourly wages received when working a cash bar).

                            This is on top of a service charge paid to the establishment, part of which was to be distributed to the service personnel.

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              fwiw, the last time i had a private event at a restaurant, i was told by a number of people (including the catering mgr) that the 'service' charge really doesn't go to the service personnel, it goes entirely to the restaurant.

                              i made sure to tip the servers in green money cash in their hands.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Every caterer/establishment has their own distribution plan for the service charge.
                                It's a long time since I worked in the catering business, but at that time we charged 18% service. 60% went to the actual party help. 40% went to the house.

                                In the case of this affair which I hosted, the service charge was 22% with 10% going to the party staff. This was spelled out very carefully in the contract and observed by the caterer. I happen to know one of the waitstaff (daughter of a neighbor) who showed her check to my daughter. The paystub showed both a flat fee for working the party and an amount for gratuity paid by customer.

                                Not all caterers may be ethical or honorable, but the one I engaged is/was.

                                Discussion of the service charge needs to be made with the caterer at the time of negotiation not after the contract is signed.

                                That said, when I host, I pay, NOT my guests. I did not invite them to go out "Dutch Treat" (politically incorrect, but I'm old).

                                If the caterer wants my business, then he and his staff must abide by the contract in full.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Who says he's doing anything special? A bartender at a bar is also supposed to serve everyone equally, and they get tips. Seems awful judgy to presume that your guests are asking for favors and that the bartender is equally in cahoots. What if he's just a nice guy and one of your guests appreciated his service on a single drink? This seems a lot less far-fetched than your conspiracy theory. You could ask them not to put out the tip jar, but to say they cannot accept any tips at all sounds like you expect some servitude rather than service.

                          1. re: throwbookatface

                            in the US, the tipping of a server is based on the fact that they earn less than minimum wage and they need the customers to pay on a basis other than the owner of the restaurant paying them a minimum wage. In the instance of my private and pre-agreed priced party the owner, the chef, the clean up people the servers, the band, etc. have all agreed to a fixed price...no ups no extras. It is my party and the owner of the restaurant, the counterparty to the contract has agreed to certain conditions and by extensions, his employs have agreed as well. Tipping is disallowed under the contract, the employees have agree to these conditions and that is what I expect. those are the conditions that everyone has entered into the deal. They do not like it...there' s the door or they have breached a legal agreement.

                            Tipping has gotten way out of hand from both sides. I want the servers to focus on their jobs and I want the guests to not see Tom slip the guy $20 and now they are next in line and feel any implicit pressure to do likewise.

                            You want to have a different arrangement with the owner and staff, i have no problem, but please do not put words in my mouth. all people that are hired to perform a task are paid for the task...pretty simple in my book, no ups, no extras.

                            1. re: jfood

                              To say that tipping is based on servers earning less than the minimum wage is not completely correct. Some states have minimum-wage law exemptions for tipped employees while others don't. California, for example, doesn't and in San Francisco, the local minimum wage is around $10 per hour regardless of whether the employee receives tips.

                              1. re: nocharge

                                thank you for the clarification nocharge...but it does not change anything in my position. Can't wait to see the thread, "if a server earns minimum wage does he deserve a tip"...that should be a fun one to stay away from. :-))

                              2. re: jfood

                                Right, I understand you don't want them going outside of a contract. My question remains, though - why include that in the contract at all? Yes, they agreed to a fixed price, but if some nice guy wants to show some appreciation, why is it your intent to prevent this from happening?

                                1. re: throwbookatface

                                  Contracts are in place to avoid confusion and to delineate the terms under which each party needs to perform. Under the "why include" I also include the time, the number of staff, the menu, the room, the date, the payment, the deposit, the refund policy, the number of committed guests, whether paper plates or china, whther white glove or jeans, whether self serve or served, all sorts of things. Surprises lead to bad feelings and potentially lawsuits and I try to avoid both.

                                  And to give my reasonings:

                                  - I am the host and therefore the owner and decision maker of the event
                                  - I have hired the room, the chef, the staff and I decide the guest interface or I find another place
                                  - they have agreed to more than a fixed price, in consideration for my paying a fixed price they have agreed to provide the room, food, staff, etc under terms and conditions of the contract including no tips (although I love b-man's charity idea above). I have not entered into an agreemnt of "I will pay $100 per person and you will do what you want."
                                  - the staff are by extension seconded employees of mine for the event
                                  - I do not want any incentive, and not to mean collusion, bad intent, or anything whatsoever to motivate any of my seconded staff from performing anything but perfect and equal service to each and every guest
                                  - I do not want any of my guests to feel pressured to "keep up with the Jones" because one of the guests is being ill mannered and waving a hundy at the bartender or any other of my seconded staff
                                  - I completely, totally and emphatically resent the fact that the tip mentality has extended to every tom, dick and harry customer facing activity and I want nothing to do with it at my hosted party
                                  - i do not allow this at parties I host at my house, just because it is at a restaurant does not change basic good manners

                                  Let me turn the question around.

                                  Why is it so important for an employee to have his hand out at every event including those in which he is well compensated? This is a private event not a gig at a restaurant or bar.

                                  Hope that helps.


                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Wow. Just wow. Tipped employees always have their hands out? They're nothing more than common beggars, are they?

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      Oh I. You know my love for restaurants and servers. A hyperbole always brings a point to an interesting conclusion. I have seen tons of posts where people lump wallstreeters into the biggest bunch of pompous a-holes in the world and i am only 5'8". :-)

                                      But if you took that personally, I apologize.

                                2. re: jfood

                                  Tom is going to slip the guy $20 whether you like it or not, I assure you.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    And if he gets caught then he may not get paid by the restaurant for working the private party under the terms of the agreement. BT's call.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Maybe, maybe not. Or it might take the following form. If my contract says "no tips" and the BT takes a tip, i will absolutely reduce my payment to the caterer-restaurant, and not dollar for dollar. They can now decide how to handle the BT. They may decide to eat the reduction or pass it on, their call.

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          I used to believe if I was unhappy with any portion of the service or food of a restaurant, e.g. * bad food requested to be taken off the bill*, I would not pay for that portion of the meal.....I have even relayed a few stories here of my past experiences......where I said I would not pay the bill, or that portion of the bill....and the restaurant could call the cops, file a report and I would address it in municipal court.

                                          Regardless if it is truly a civil matter or not.....It has now been revealed to me that this is theft of services and I could be arrested for non payment., then proceed as indicated above. There have recently been a few stories of celebrities being arrested for refusing to pay their checks that seem to support that position.

                                          You may very well be correcty with your position on your contract terms....but really, is it worth it for youu to find out to prove your point.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            Then you're breaking your end of the contract. ;)

                                            I just say breathe in, breathe out. It's out of your hands, dawg.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      you know nothing about the restaurant business. You get skilled bartenders and servers because the restaurant industry is pure capitalism. The strong make money the weak have to deal with it. Flat rates cater to inferiority.

                                  2. re: jfood

                                    absolutely agree. I would not expect my guests to even necessarily have money on them to tip.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      When I've thrown a party with an open bar I've tip the bartender significantly. I never expect my guests to spend a dime. They are guests for goodness sakes. No tip jars are acceptable at my parties.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Absolutely. There's no tip jar by the food or cake, I presume, so there shouldn't be a tip jar by the bar either.

                                      2. Well, I think it depends on a few things. First, if you are paying the bar tab, who is paying for the food? Are patrons paying for their own? Where is the party? Is it in the backyard, a restaurant, a banquet hall, etc.

                                        If you are in a private space, you will probably have your own bartender. Usually there is a charge for the bartender. Any gratuity will be on top of that. You can either allow them to put out a tip jar, or not, your choice. Either way, it's nice to give them a little extra at the end if you were happy overall.

                                        If you are in a bar or restaurant, are the drinks being served to guests at the table, or are they going to the main bar? If your guests are being served at the table then tipping is not an issue, as no money will be changing hands. If that is the case, you should add the gratuity to the bar total.

                                        If they are going to the main bar, you can either allow tipping or not, but you really won't be able to monitor it. In that scenario I'd just let the bartender accept tips, and then tip again at the end.

                                        1. Anytime I've ordered/contracted for an open bar, I pay the gratuity. No tip jar! If someone wants to slip the bartender a few bucks, that up to the individule. If I go to a party/event with an open bar, I won't tip. I know the game. To each his/her own.

                                          1. The party is on a private room in a bar. We will have our own bar and bartender. I will add 15% on top of the tab which has a min of $2500. If folks want to slip the bartender some extra cash so be it. I am not going to be a policemen that night. Heck, I tip bartenders at weddings.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: princeofpork

                                              This is the way to do it. I was stunned once, at a friend's wedding, when she came to me and said, No, it's open bar, you don't tip! IMHO, when it's open bar, the bartenders work double time because people are trying to drink their fill.

                                            2. As a former occasional bartender, I agree with CocoDan and Hyacinthgirl: Cover the tip yourself, instruct the bartender(s) not to put out a tip jar, but don't get your knickers in a knot if your guests slip the 'tender a few bucks on their own.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                I think Miss Manners would agree, if it's open bar the host tips, not the guest. and no suggestive tip jar but if a guest slips a few bills absolutely don't set anybody's hair on fire, just spoils the fun (and smells awful) it may be unnecessary, but it's hardly an unforgivable offense. although I did admire somebody's comment up stream that the crew asked what charity should receive the un-required tips.

                                                I'd say a low-cost chiropractor service (tending bar is hell on the lumbars)

                                              2. The patrons should tip, and you should tip.

                                                1. Depends on your contract with the caterer/establishment/bartender.

                                                  In many cases of a private party, a gratuity is included in your fee. This is something you should find out up front. You should also know whether the bartender is getting the entire gratuity or does the house take a cut.

                                                  If the bartender is getting a generous flat rate which includes the gratuity, there should not be a tip jar (tacky no matter what the situation), but should not be expected to decline tips or not keep them in a glass/snifter BEHIND the bar.

                                                  If there is no gratuity included in the fee and you don't want the bartender to look for tips, the host should provide a percentage of the anticipated bar bill up front. Otherwise, expect the bartender to fend for themselves and if that means exhibiting a snifter/pitcher with ones in it, suck it up and deal with it. The man/woman is making a living just like you and me.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Irishmafia

                                                    A local talk radio station has a lawyer answering legal questions from listeners. Not too long ago, a caller was a bartender at a country club. Her beef was that she wasn't allowed to have a tip jar at private events at the club. The twist was that the club charged a mandatory service charge for such events but didn't share it with the employees -- the house took all of it. The lawyer pointed out that such a practice is legal in California but raised the possibility that the club might be defrauding its customers if it pretended that the service charge was a gratuity. In any case, it would seem like the club would have a problem retaining top-notch bartenders.

                                                  2. I hired a bartender for my wedding. I paid them for the job and not by the hour. If guests wanted to tip them, it was not my concern. I think if you pay them well and have an agreement ahead of time then there should be no misunderstanding. I treated it like a catering gig. Guests don't tip the caterers but you need to pay them for the agreed upon price.

                                                    1. I believe if the event is an open bar at a private party, you should not tip the bartender. Do you tip the waiters for bringing out your food, what makes the bartender any different? This is a private event that the host is paying for, do you expect a tip when you host something in your own home and pay for everything?
                                                      I went to my brothers wedding where it was an open bar, and there was a big tip jar on the bar. Knowing my brother, I know that he would not want that, so I mentioned it to him. The jar was gone. He wanted his guests to have a good time, and did not expect anyone to pay for anything, he was taking care of everything. In essence they were getting double tipped.
                                                      I do the same, I want my guests to have a good time and not pay for anything, so no tip jars. However, I won't go ballistic if someone gives them something, I just don't encourage it, by blatantly have tip jars out.

                                                      1. tip jars are tacky as hell. but i would, as host, tip the bartender. I would not stop my bartender from accepting tips, but i would ask they downplay any need for them

                                                        1. In my past work history, I worked for a company that charged upwards of a $1000 dollars per plate for private functions.

                                                          The party contract most certainly should have a labor charge. This goes to the house, not the staff. There was a separate line for *suggested gratuities*, usually 8-10%, and this amount if given, went to the booking manager, as a commision, who also ran the party. Staff was paid a shift wage based on 6-8 hours.

                                                          Tip the staff if you wish....I would myself. small party, $50. large party, $100. per server. I w ould not differentiate beteen food server and bartender in the amount given.

                                                          Tip jars/cups should not be allowed, but why should I care if a guest wants to be generous and hand someone a tip. Presumably, the host of a party wants me to be happy as a guest.....not happy for him as the host. If service were truly the desire of the host, then there would not be any buffet receptions or dinners. Why should a guest have to get up for food or beverage. They (servers and bartenders)should be compensated, either by wage, gratuity or both.

                                                          In the past, when I have been invited to parties with other elderly guests, family or friends.....I find it unreasonable to expect them to stand in line to get a refreshment or nourishment from the bar or buffet...let alone carry it back to a table. For these holier than now responses, did you also provide adequate staff (cocktail servers), and by that, I mean one server per 10-15 guests? My routine when invited to these parties is to grab the person assigned to my assigned area and pass them a $50-$100. *I*, the guest, instruct them that I do not want to see any one from my table get up for any food or drink. Frankly, I don't see how that insults the host in any way. They are serving the people they have been assigned to......and I am reward inthem for their service.....my choice

                                                          Not following the rules......really? That''s just silly.

                                                          Without knowing if anyone else at a party in my area has tipped or not, I never saw any slight to the others around me at other tables and I never received preferential treatment....just what was requested and given......to me the guest.

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                            I think we worked at the same place! All of our functions had the gratuity included in the contract price. We never saw a penny of it - hourly rate only. I can honestly say I have never worked so hard in my entire life. Thankfully, almost all of the event hosts side tipped as well. So did the guests. When you take good care of people, they take care of you right back. At the end of a grueling ten hour day, that extra fifty or hundred was like a little piece of Heaven.

                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                              "Presumably, the host of a party wants me to be happy as a guest.....not happy for him as the host".

                                                              This, exactly, is why I competely disagree with jfood. If Auntie Helen wants to slip me a couple bucks for knowing how to make a Pink Squirrel just like she had back in the 50s, I feel it's ruder to say no than to just accept it. Betcha Auntie Helen would think so, too.

                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                or if Aunt Agnes wants her "special ice water" and really only wants to explain once (sotto voce) what that actually means. because if you're 80 and tottering up to the bar even if you're not driving, you don't want comments on all the vodka-rocks you've been quaffing.

                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  Oy...have we come to a point where NOT accepting money is "rude?"

                                                                  The role of the host is to make, in total, all of the guests as happy as possible. This is not always a ceteris paribus situation with Auntie Helen.

                                                                  If slipping the BT a $20 makes rich Aunty Helen happy but fixed-income Auntie Mae standing next to her, clutching her Social Security check in her pocketbook, is now totally embarassed while she orders the same Pink Squirrel because she cannot afford the Jackson then Auntie Mae is probably more unhappy than Auntie Helen is happy.

                                                                  we can all come up with examples, but the bottom line is, if the host wants the BT to accept tips, no biggie, and if the host does not want the BT to accept tips, that too should be no biggie.

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    Boy do I have to agree with you jfood on this one.

                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      if the host does not want the BT to accept tips, that too should be no biggie.

                                                                      Well, that depends on whether the host provided comparable compensation in lieu of gratuity.

                                                                      Whether you like it or not, many bartenders are not there out of the goodness of their heart. They are there to make money, just like most people who hold a job. As a host, I would think you want a happy bartender as s/he can make or break an event.

                                                                      When I worked private parties for a restaurant, I received my hourly ($2) plus 5% of the party fee and, if a cash bar, 10% of the register. Yes, I made good money and I worked my tail off for it. If I received a tip on top of that, it went into a pitcher behind the bar. Out of that money, I would pay out 50% to anyone who worked the party with me, whether wait staff or busperson.

                                                                      When I worked for a caterer, I was paid $50/hr, no cash, no tips. However, if someone wanted to offer a gratuity, it was done discreetly and with full knowledge of the caterer. When they brought in a "bar manager" who wanted to take me down to $10/hr and absolutely zero gratuity, I move on.

                                                                      BTW, my uniform for the catering events (all on private estates) was a black suit or tux. Not doing that for $10/hr.

                                                                      1. re: Irishmafia

                                                                        Each of those items (other than para 4) are all within the discussion of the compensation that everyone has agreed to. If the BT agrees to an amount for the event then that is the amount that is agreed to. If the BT only wants to work events with $x per hour plus tips and not $YY flat, then this is not the correct BT-Party pairing. Need to ask for a different BT.

                                                                        In para 4 you believe a carve out to the contract if it is done discreetly. I disagree. For years Bernie Madoff was discreetly taking money. Whether a BT discreetly violates a contract or puts a tip jar on the bar, a violation is a violation. And if that were to occur at my event, I would have told the caterer to withhold payment to anyone who discreetly shoved a Jackson in his pocket.

                                                                        I agree that BTs are not there out of the goodness of their hearts and have never stated anything close to it. But if I agree with the caterer or the restaurant that I will pay $XXX for an open bar plus BT with no additional tips being allowed, that is the deal that the caterer and by extension the BTs have agreed to...full stop.

                                                                      2. re: jfood

                                                                        I'm just telling you that a guest who wants to tip is going to tip regardless. They'll just leave the money on the bar instead of handing it to the bartender.

                                                                        Also, you can't control what people do. Helen will tip and Mae will be embarrassed. It will happen even if you insist no tips are allowed. I've worked plenty of no tip hosted bars. I bet I never walked with under $100 in extra tips anyhow. To try to tell your guests what to do with their money is a bit pompous, no?

                                                                        Personally, in my circle, if the bar is hosted, we tip extra big, since we're drinking for free.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          Yes, if someone wants to give you a tip for brightening their day, I feel not taking it is an insult.

                                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                            Well at least the world is back in sync with the two of us agreeing to disagree. It was fun while it lasted agreeing on certain items. :-))

                                                                    2. Ours is a strange culture. Tipping is not customary in many many parts of the world.
                                                                      I always tip the bartenders at open bars so I get more booze in my drink!

                                                                      But I see Jfood's point, it can create an expectation to leave a tip, which makes some guests uncomfortable, and, ultimately, you dont want your guests to feel that way.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: AdamD

                                                                        Having been in the restaurant and catering industryies for many years.....customers, patrons or guests either want to leave a tip or don't......If they choose not to, they don't feel uncomfortable, nor do they give it a second thought for not..

                                                                      2. I've been in both situations. When hosting an event with an open bar, we tipped the bar tender at the end of the night. If I'm at an event where theres an open bar, I always tip the bar tender 10 bucks or so when I get my first drink and then at end of the night; the amount at the end of the night usually depends on how "festive" I'm feeling at the end of the night, which, more often than not, is "very" festive.

                                                                        1. Just to close out this thread, the party is 3 hours in a private room in a bar, cash bar that I, the host am picking up the tab.. I committed to $2500 min and I will pay everything on top if it goes over. The tip is not included in the deal. There will be one bartender at a private bar just for the party. The party is 3 hours then open to the public. IF patrons want to tip I have no problem with that. However, I have never seen a tip jar on the bar and will ask them to remove it if they put one up. I plan on tipping between 200 and 250 depending on how I feel at the end of the party.

                                                                          23 Replies
                                                                          1. re: princeofpork

                                                                            Just out of curiosity, how many guests? Top shelf brands? Super Premium? $2500 could seem high, or very reasonable depending on the details. I'm sure it's too late to negotiate terms, but open bars have fixed charges per guest per hours......cash bars are running tabs.....and an opportunity to pad the bill.

                                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                                              We are inviting 85 so estimating 60 to come. They wanted 60 per person for the 3 hour open bar top shelf. I felt I could get a better deal paying cash especially when I know about 10 of the people dont drink more than 1 drink. I had to assure them $2500 to get the private room for 3 hours. My concern is the bar tender ringing in 3 drink when we order one.
                                                                              Any of the bartenders in this thread care to comment on how to avoid this situation?

                                                                              1. re: princeofpork

                                                                                Unfortunately, there's no way to prevent that. I hope you simply get an honest crew.

                                                                                You mentioned you need to spend $2,500, right? But you plan to only tip $200-250? Seems a bit stingy.

                                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                  I thought about that but at the same time isnt that $75 per hour to tend bar for 60 people? The traditional %20 seems a little excessive.

                                                                                  1. re: princeofpork

                                                                                    the flip side of that is one bartender alone dealing with 60 people. that seems like a lot.
                                                                                    also 60 people, for 3 hours - if they were not overly stingy people , the bartender would make more than $200 in tips. tips are based on the number of drinks served, not the hours worked.

                                                                                    1. re: princeofpork

                                                                                      Tending bar for 60 people is a ton of work. Also, it takes a lot of time to set up and break down a bar for 60, especially if it's just one person doing so. That will easily add between two and three hours to the job.

                                                                                      I would tip the standard 20% if the service is good, less if it's not. There's really no need to overthink it. Leaving someone 8% ($200) after they just busted their humpfor you is in extremely poor taste. I realize you're obviously concerned about the cost of the event, but I don't find it fair to take that out on the bartender.

                                                                                      Just my $0.02.

                                                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                        While I'm in agreement with you thus far with this entire thread, here, I have a slightly different point of view on this particular situation based on the new details provide by the OP. This is really a catered party event, and tips are not calculated off the bill total like in typical bar or restaurant service.....and as I indicated in my earlier response, gratuities are not mandatory and only suggested, Obviously you can always introduce variables that change the situation, but there is a also the possibility the crowd will not drink much and fewer guests will attend than anticipated...consumption and the actual running total of the number of drinks will not reach the $2500 minimum set. If the guests are mostly in their 20's or 30's, than I would surmise consumption would be up, but as the crowd gets older, the consumption usually goes down. The first hour will be brisk, but the second and third.....not so much.

                                                                                        Setting up the bar really should not be considered from the hosts position, that's the house's responsibility. For all we know, this room already has a finished bar or rolling bar in place, so most of the work is already done...The host has detailed that top shelf brands are to be made available....the more brands and options for the guests to choose from benefits the house., e.g. offering imported beer, rather than simply having domestics...or having premium label wines, rather than litre jug varieties. ...offering more premium options allows for the more likely chance someone will be upsold on their own without any persuasion needed from the staff.....e.g. vodka, rocks......as opposed to Grey Goose, rocks.

                                                                                        In my opinion, in this situation the house is guilty of being stingy with the help. There really should be a minimum two bartenders and two people to work the floor.....two servers or a server and a busser....providing drink service and clearingof used glasses. The more drinks served, the higher the tab. Better service also will reflect better on the house and the desire and inclination to tip.....and presumably into future customers.

                                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                                          I don't really disagree with what you're saying, other than the set up/break down time. The OP said something along the lines of $200 not being bad for three hours of work, but it's more like 5-6 hours. That was the only reason I brought it up. Stocking ice, cutting fruit, etc. takes forever, as does cleaning up, regardless of the type of bar you're working (rolling v. permanent).

                                                                                          I also think the house could provide two bartenders, but I've done 60 person bars alone lots of times. Guests' arrival times stagger , so there's never really a big push. An experienced, prepared bartender can do it no problem (busy, for sure, but totally doable).

                                                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                            . An experienced, prepared bartender can do it no problem...

                                                                                            I agree too. My mind works as an owner and guest service as the basis for my thoughts. At the very least, there should be two people during the first hour.....even if that means the owner or manager chipping in if no one else is available. Guests and staff should not be taxed or stressed for this or any party event.

                                                                                        2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                          I don't think it's possible for one bartender to deal with 60 customers if it's a proper cocktail party. Beer, wine and the occasional vodka tomic? Sure. But if people are ordering Martini's, Manhattan's and the like there is no way you can serve 60 people.

                                                                                          1. re: reatard

                                                                                            OK, the point of only 1 bartender not being enough necer crossed my mind. I am going to call the place and discuss. Will report back

                                                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                Ok, lets see what the place says. I wont push it if they think one can do it also. Any thoughts for avoiding the bartender ringing in double drinks and driving up the bill?
                                                                                                Is it wrong to request a cute female bartender?

                                                                                                1. re: princeofpork

                                                                                                  Hire one of the eagle eyes who don't agree with the staff accepting tips....:0)

                                                                                                  As invino stated earlier, you can't stop a dishonest bartender (or house) and hopefully you will have an honest crew. I would suggest you park yourself in sight of the bar in the beginning to see how the bartender is actually recording the drinks served. See if they are doing this on paper or on a cash register....are they ringing/recording immediately? or are they doing so randomly. I would be suspicious if it were the latter and address it immediately.

                                                                                                  It's your party....if you want a cute female, request one......take it a step further an insist the person is well groomed with neat appearance and a clean uniform.

                                                                                                  1. re: princeofpork

                                                                                                    Nothing personal here, but you're getting awfully picky for someone who doesn't want to tip 20%. ;) I think one bartender will be fine for you. The house knows their staff and what they're capable of.

                                                                                                    Like I mentioned upthread, you can't stop the dishonesty (unless you spend the whole night watching over the bar instead of having a great time with your guests).

                                                                                                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                    I'll take you at your word. You're a much better bartender than I'll ever be but let me ask you how long it would take you to make a simple cocktail like a Martini? Thirty seconds or so? This is even if you shake rather than stir. So if do the math even if only 40 of the 60 people order a cocktail you're looking at 20 minutes just to make drinks for these people and if you can serve the other 20 in 5 minutes it will take you 25 minutes just to get all the guest their first round. Right? I'm not even including the time it takes to wash up your equipment in between drinks.

                                                                                                    I was recently at an event for 40 people at a better than average cocktail bar in Brooklyn and there were 1 1/2 bartenders (1 good one and one much slower trainee type) as well as a bar back and they just kept up for the first hour or so. Things always slow down after the first hour but I'm not sure how 1 batender can serve that many people all at once in the beginning. Granted 90% of the guest were ordering labor intensive cocktails.

                                                                                                    1. re: reatard


                                                                                                      Not necessarily. Most good bartenders can multitask.......If a guest orders two martinis(same type) at the same time, the preparation time is not increased times two......

                                                                                                      plus, in reality, unless the drink made has cream in the shaken or stired cocktail, the wahing procedure is nothing more than a dunk in water, i.e., a simple rinse which takes mere seconds,

                                                                                                      1. re: reatard

                                                                                                        It's possible because most guests stagger their arrival times. There's never usually one big push for an event like this (a party) versus a wedding, when everyone arrives at once.

                                                                                                        Also, Joe Average doesn't order labor intensive cocktails. I sold more glasses of wine, beers and two ingredient cocktails than anything else, by a long shot.

                                                                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                          "Also, Joe Average doesn't order labor intensive cocktails"

                                                                                                          Depends on where the even is held. Like I said I was an event at a cocktail bar and at least 90% of the drinks were labor intensive coctails.

                                                                                                          1. re: reatard

                                                                                                            Yes, but the OP mentioned many of his guests are barely drinkers. I doubt they're going to be asking for flips, etc.

                                                                                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                              Spoke to the place. Said an extra bartender is not needed and no party has ever complained. Most people will be drinking 1booze-1 mixer drinks or rocks drinks or wine. Very few martinis.

                                                                                                              1. re: princeofpork

                                                                                                                I figured. 60 people is completely doable with one.

                                                                                        3. FYI......I just returned from an engagement party at a well known catering facility in my area of Northern New Jersey....the party was for a couple in their late 20's and their families and friends. They had servers passing Champagne and White Wine upon entering the room....and an open bar with Premium /Top Shelf Liquors., staffed with two bartenders for 100 guests. There was never a line of more than a couple of people after the first 30 minutes. There was not any tip cup in sight and just about every 20 & 30 something gave a gratuity each time they ordered, with money in hand before they approached the bar.......most gave a substantial amount in the form of a 5 or 10.......not beaners.....and the host was in plain sight.....No complaints.

                                                                                          1. As a bartender I know you always get a mandatory 20% added to your final bar tab as a host. I also know I loved it when the host allowed me to have a "tip jar" because everyone tipped me at least a buck and I made a killing on open bar events, sometimes pulling in over $1000 in a night.

                                                                                            Some hosts did not allow tip jars, but I still made out very well for the night. Either way it is 100% up to the host.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                                              If there is a final bill the bartender won't expect people to tip,even so they would really like it. For example, if your company is throwing a party at a bar and they agree to pay $50 a head the bartender should be tipped on the bill. If you show up to a bar and the deal is you can pay at the door to recive an open bar(a lot of times you see this st. patricks day or new years eve)all the money goes to the house, the bartenders don't see a dime. It really depends on the situation

                                                                                            2. if its a private party, you are likely to be charged an automatic gratuity

                                                                                              1. Tip jars are tacky, but I've always found I get better service with a smile if I throw the bartender a few bucks with our first round at an open bar event.

                                                                                                1. I guess I am unclear as to whether this is at an establishment or in your personal home...whether the bartender is making minimum or higher per hour, as many staff do at catered affairs....

                                                                                                  If it is at your home, I don't think your guests should be expected to tip the bartender. You should be expected to at the end of e night, and base your tip on how well he/she interacted with your guests, performed their job, and many other lesser criteria. That is your prerogative.

                                                                                                  If this is outside your home at a restaurant, lets say, then i say Absolutely. He/she is still performing a service that requires some skill. And is most likely making a lesser hourly wage, so tipping is essential for many of them to earn a living.

                                                                                                  1. I had open bar at my wedding, and I was billed an additional 20% gratuity. So, no you don't have to.

                                                                                                    1. tip the bartender yourself.
                                                                                                      most folks will not tip at an open bar because they are expecting you to be doing it. ( this is true even if a tip jar is out. )

                                                                                                      1. If I were hosting a part with an open bar, not only would I expect to tip everyone (bartender, servers, parking attendants, coat checkers, etc.), I would do so generously and make sure that my guests knew that I was doing so. Indeed, I would probably insist that management instruct their employees not to accept additional tips from my guests!

                                                                                                        1. I realize I am late to this thread but when I recently got married we had open bar and we (the hosts) tipped on the final tab. We were very specific that there were not to be any tip jars put out as we would take care of EVERYTHING. If someone chose to tip (I have no clue) that’s fine but I didn’t want my guests feeling pressured.