HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Does the Bartender even remember good Tips?

This has been on my mind for a while and often see good responses about Tipping in general. I have always been a gracious tipper , even if the server was not that great. Especially with bartenders, I feel as while sitting at the bar its more of a personal touch. Although, recently I've noticed most do not even look at what they were given.

Is is true to assume, if you tip well you will get better service or are you only as good as your last envelope ?

I do not tip for self gratification and do not expect anything more than normal service, however I hate to just waste money ( I need myself) .

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Let's put it this way, a bartender won't necessarily remember a "good" tip but they will almost certainly remember a bad one. But in general a good tip on the first round will make an impact on a bartender.

    What are you leaving as a tip? Because what you consider a good tip may just be average.

    5 Replies
    1. re: reatard

      I normally tip at the end of the session.. and it will depend on the final bill. I have been starting to go to a new place and want to make nice on first visits so $10 for a $20 tab.... I dont really have a ryhme or reason for my tipping methods..

      What really erks me is group tip jars... I will have GREAT service from one person (that i want to tip ) and the other person just is taking up space

      1. re: Augie6

        <I normally tip at the end of the session.. >

        I think, unless you are running a tab, that this might not be the best strategy. I tip on every round. A bartender has a constantly changing (and often mobile) group of customers, unlike a table server. Not tipping right from the get go could signal that you don't intend to tip at all.

        1. re: Augie6

          Tipping a bartender at the end doesn't have the same impact unless you become a regular but your tip is very genrous. If I were you I'd leave $5 after the first round.

          The tip jar is completely out of your hands, just let that go.

        2. re: reatard

          So true on the bad tips.

          Almost everyone left me 20%, which i appreciated, but the only people who really stood out were the crazy tippers, either crazy high OR crazy low.

          1. re: reatard

            That's true,i bartend and I make sure to remember people that tip good. Also they will get better service, more buy backs and stronger drinks. I have a customer who comes in and orders a food special($5 burger or sandwich....depending on the day) and a water and bitches because he doesnt get fries. I hate people like this and could care less if the come back. I told him to go to McDonalds and see if your fries come withyour big mac.......you get what you pay for in life and the bar is the same way. Bartenders work for tips and notice when people take care of them!!!!!!

          2. You expect nothing more than normal service......but based on your accounts, if you are not receiving better than normal service.....it's time to reduce your tip to standard formulas or what you are comfortable with, e.g., if the bartender doesn't recognize and greet you when you first enter and acknowledge your presence....if he cannot recall a customer who has left him a 50% tip on a previous visit....he doesn't deserve anything above 15-20%.

            I always tip at the end......running a tab, the bartender knows exactly what is left over after you settle the bill.

            1. I consider myself a very generous tipper, and I've found that bartenders generally remember something about me in return visits. On my second visit to an establishment, provided that I get the same bartender and return within a few weeks of my initial visit, the bartender will usually remember either my name, my drink or both. If it's one or the other, it's usually my drink. By my third visit they almost unequivocally remember one or the other. By my fourth or fifth visit generally all of the bartenders at the establishment know my name and drink, and, oftentimes, my drink is being poured before I even sit down.

              So, yeah, in my experience, they seem to remember...

              1. When I bartended I did indeed remember good tippers, and which regulars who were good tippers. I'd have their drink of choice on the bar when I saw them heading over, and they loved that. We also remember people who are pleasant to deal with, people who are rude and people who don't tip. At least I did.

                As a patron there is only one place I go to with any regularity.....they know I tip well and give me good service, they also allow me to run a tab (it's not policy there) and generally treat me well. Servers also appreciate the patron who will say "Finish what you're doing" or "no rush" when they are busy/hands full etc and will always get to you as quick as they can, as opposed to the grump drumming his fingers while they try to juggle a tray of shooters they are pouring ;-)

                1 Reply
                1. re: crazee

                  crazee, I can confirm almost identical service to that you describe in your post.

                  I also always like it when I see the bartender preparing my drink or having my drink ready before I even sit down.

                  As to your other points, I always try to be as pleasant as possible to my servers, and I would like to think that they remember me for this as well, but I've always thought it more likely because of my tipping protocol. For example, I, too, am one to always say "finish what you're doing" or "no rush" if my server seems harried in any way, or even if the bar is a little more full than normal.

                  And, unlike you, I frequent a number of bars, almost all of which generally require patrons to submit a card to run a tab or pay as they go; like you, however, I am never asked to give more than my drink order.

                2. It refreshing to hear this feedback .. As 50% is not my standard tip, at a new place a want them to know I do appreciate the extra details...Names are exceptional,... but style of beer I like or at least a convo we had makes you want to com back. I always run a tab at bars... do not like paying as I go

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Augie6

                    Okay, hang on a second.

                    You "always run a tab," but you've "noticed most [bartenders] do not even look at what they were given." Sorry, but that just doesn't compute.

                    Assuming that you ran a tab on a credit card, your tip is on the charge slip. The barkeep can review and evaluate it at leisure. It would be really crass to scrutinize the paperwork and give you a thumbs up (or down) based on your tip for the evening. But only the truly clueless will fail to notice the amount.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      It was more along the lines of remembering the tip and not just having my receipt in the pile by the register. Does the tip and name go together or is it just a number in a crowd. I think everyone is on the same page, clueless ones will fail! lol

                      By the way, one of the best pics I've seen on here, Great Dog and Great beer!!

                      1. re: Augie6

                        it's people's livelihood. trust me, they notice.

                        you could always test this by stiffing the bts several times, then reporting back to this thread whether they seem to notice at all ;-P

                        just kidding about that. bts may seem casual about the cash because to seem overly concerned about it comes off as greedy/grabby, to the customer-- which nobody likes. but the bt sees every receipt, every dollar bill on the bar, every ticket at the service window, and every nearly empty glass in front of a customer. observation is an essential part of a bt's job, most just have the poise and flair to not appear as if they are watching absolutely everything going on at the bar. i still remember my regulars' drinks from 15 years ago. . . there are no "faces/numbers in a crowd."

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          Your comments are 100% correct and mirror my experiences and attitude as a bartender.

                  2. I tip well on the first drink but I usually pay cash, if you are running a tab it's not the same. Not expecting anything from it except decent service f (i.e., I don't expect the bartender to pour me a bigger portion of Scotch).

                    I'm somewhat superstitious/weird and the reason I usually tip well is the concern that I might get run over by a truck and the last thing I did before I died is stiff someone on a tip.

                    At the airport I always give the shuttle driver a tip, if the plane goes down and Saint Peter asks me to account for myself at least I can say "I tipped the shuttle bus driver."

                    1. ". Although, recently I've noticed most do not even look at what they were given."

                      trust me, we look.

                      to your question, yes we remember. If you are at a good tenders bar, you should see the benefits in the form of buybacks, preferential order taking when it's busy, tastes of the latest spirit that the bartender is currently geeking out on, etc.,etc.....
                      if, not.....find a new bar.

                      25 Replies
                      1. re: nkeane

                        I remember the best and worst tippers. Regular good tippers always get served first in a bunch of strangers. Cigarettes, pens, ,newspapers, food recomendations, Guest List , dinner reservations, TV and music are geared to the best and rightly so.

                        See my many comments on "Bar Buy-backs" on this board on this illegal, life threatening, expensive and costly scam.

                        If you can't make and/or reward a customer without giving something away you are not a bartender.

                        1. re: postemotional1

                          My regular customers always get there drink first, the audio on the channel they're watching....etc.This comes into play in football season. I try and provide great service to everyone,but if i have a customer who notices my hard work and takes care of me, they come first. That's life.

                          In my opinion all good bars and bartenders give buy backs to there loyal customers

                          1. re: noonan06

                            I have to agree buy backs are not just giving something away, its more of a friendship offereing in my opinion. A good bar tender will know when something is going to either cause troubler in the bar or possible injur the customer.

                            When I go to a new bar and I get a 'free" whatever I do not go back because of the free drink.. i go back because I feel welcomed

                            1. re: Augie6

                              It isn't the bartender's property to give away!

                              So if the regulars are always being hooked up then they are less profitable over a period of time.

                              1. re: postemotional1

                                You are correct, but a good bar will trust the bartender to use good judgment to bring in regular customers. If a person sits down and has 3 beers, a bartender should give them the next round free. If they feel appriciated they will come back and support the bar. If they dont feel special they wont come back. That beer cost the bar a fraction, but could earn them a repeat customer that comes in several times a week. its just good business!!!!

                                1. re: noonan06

                                  I disagree with "should". The bartender MAY give him the next beer for free, but to expect it? Definitely uncool. A free drink is a courtesy, not earned.

                                  Many bartenders are not allowed to give away any free drinks by law a/o by ownership.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    I bartend in New York City and there are two many options. It's very old school when it comes to drinking. Buy backs are great way to build your business, Maybe i should never give buy backs and short pour customers to maximize profits......that seems like a good business plan....Right?

                                    1. re: noonan06

                                      Yes, you should steal from your customers via short pours. That's exactly what I said.

                                      I said buybacks shouldn't be expected, and that they're not allowed in many places, whether by law or by business owner.

                                      Tough concept.

                                  2. re: noonan06

                                    No "a fraction" is definitely not the way that it works. Assuming a target of 22.5 Pouring Cost the multiplier is 4.4 x 22.5=100%

                                    A $5 beer given away would buy $22 of beer if the opportunity cost were applied to purchasing.

                                    The preceding is assuming that the give-away is unauthorized.

                                  3. re: postemotional1

                                    If it wasn't for you regulars thier woudl be no profit..... Although, I do see your point, I have some tenders just take advantage of the bar/owners... That is not cool!! But if I spend $100 in a night they next time I am in .. it would nice to have one on the house... I would never expect anything ... Plus alot of the places I frequent the owner is doing the buybacks makes a huge difference

                                    1. re: Augie6

                                      I agree with you 100%. If me and 3 friends sit at a bar and have 8 beers each at $5 bucks a pop, thats $160 spent on just beers.Throw in some food and you have a bill approaching $200. A couple rounds of free beers would be nice.

                                    2. re: postemotional1

                                      It may not be the bartender's property to give away, but the bartender may have been authorized to do so by the owner.

                                      Back in the early 70s I tended bar in Philadelphia while going to college there. At that time the house rules were that there were 25 paid shots in a bottle 4/5qt (Before metric 750ml) and the 26th drink was free. The bartender was authorized to dispense the free shot at will.

                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                        Just curious....how did you know you were at the 26th drink (shot)?

                                        I managed restaurants and bars for several years and from experience bartenders are more likely to "over pour" a shot than "under pour" and if we got 25 shots out of a 4/5 it would have been a miracle.

                                        1. re: monku

                                          7/8 oz shots......or short pouring.

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Sure, we used the 7/8 oz. shot glass....the one you "pour" to the inside line and the customer see's the "pour" above the line from the outside.

                                            Corporation I worked for had an outside company that took bar inventory at the end of the month and they gave you a detailed report on pouring costs and inventory at each location. You knew which bartender's were a little heavy handed.

                                            1. re: monku

                                              In my youth, I used to work for a national chain.....we used to do it every Sunday night after closing. The company wanted an under 20% Liquor Cost, but usually ran more at 21+. They would then do the physical count again and again until it got below 20.5.....they achieved this by increasing each bottle in the speed racks and back bars a tenth at a time, e.g., from point 5 to point 6....and so on.

                                              After the bar manager moved on, a new one arrived and without any other staff changes, the liquor cost dropped to a consistent 19-20%....everyone was happy......that is until that bar manager moved on and another arrived. During the weekly physical inventory, it was discovered that a full case of empty bottles of vodka was beneath the full stock, in inventory lock-up, that was counted as being full.....nice trick.

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                During the weekly physical inventory, it was discovered that a full case of empty bottles of vodka was beneath the full stock, in inventory lock-up, that was counted as being full.....nice trick.

                                                And that's why every night when I replaced the empty bottles, those empty bottles had to be broken by me.

                                                1. re: monku

                                                  Another dubious place in my youth.....

                                                  Did I ever tell you the story about the guy, who the owner was convinced of that he was stealing......and had him shopped every night for 30 straight days/work shifts....and every report had him doing everything correctly without one improper instance?

                                                  Turns out on one of the reports, the shopper indicated the bartender in question rang up the round of drinks on *register #4*. After some time, the owner realized he only had three cash registers installed when he opened the bar/nightclub. The bartender brought in his own register....and not a digital one. This was back in the late 70's and it was a full size NCR.

                                                  ...and no, it was not me.

                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                    Not from you, but I'd heard a story like that when I was in the biz in the 70's. Those NCR's weighed 100 pounds.

                                                    Reminds me of a bartender I used to have that thought he was the greatest bartender around. The owners invited him to a party at their house and he goes thinking he's an "invited" guest...when he get's there they tell him to get to work making drinks. I felt sorry for him and looked the other way and let him ply his sideline at the bar selling high end watches to customers.

                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                      The phantom cash register is no. 5 in this list of 99.

                                                      1. re: nocharge

                                                        And people think they know the restaurant biz.....

                                            2. re: monku

                                              You knew you were at the final shot when the bottle became empty as you poured into the measuring shot glass. This drink was given free.

                                              Every shot had to be pured into a 7/8 oz shot glass and only up to the line. The boss had better not catch any bartender overpouring, or it was firing time.

                                              Even the beer mugs had a raised bottom, and were made to be substantially narrower on the inside bottom than the mouth holding only 7 ounces.

                                              No complaints from customers, as they were 90% underage college students, ust happy they could get served.

                                          2. re: postemotional1

                                            >>"It isn't the bartender's property to give away!"<<


                                            In many (most?) places, management realizes that profit correlates directly to volume, and therefore gives the bartenders latitude to comp drinks to good customers in order to maximize sales. The bar makes more money, the barkeep gets better tips, and the customer feels taken care of. Everybody's happy.

                                            Liquor's cheap, overhead's fixed, and unless there's a line out the door, the barkeep's labor is already taken care of. So if comping a dollar's worth of ingredients will generate more than a dollar's worth of profits, it makes economic sense for the bar to give away the occasional drink.

                                            Speaking solely for myself, I've never left after a buyback, but have always bought at least one more drink. Assuming an ingredient cost of 50%, that's a break-even proposition. And with the next round, the owner is back to making a profit.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              I agree 100%. If i give a buyback that cost the bar .80 cents and it bring the customer back, the bar wins. Another thing is to comp drinks/shots/food after they close out. For example, if a couple says they want the check and you slide them another round it cost the bar a couple bucks max, but if they were gonna order another round it cost the bar $10-15 depending on the drinks. That beyond the point, people need to think of what it cost the bar, not what the customer pays for it.

                                        2. re: noonan06

                                          I give them every thing but the booze for free.

                                    3. I bartended for a while and yes you remember good and bad tips. I can still remember some of the faces of good tippers and terrible tippers 6 years later. One thing about poor tippers that isn't always known, most bars require the bartender to payback a portion of their tips based on their sales. If you don't tip you are actually costing them money. That is why I still remember poor tipper at the air show who drank 150$ in beer over three days and left me a little something at the end. 0.25$ does not nearly cover the 'tip out' I had to pay at the end of each day.

                                      If you are at an event when you are not paying per drink (like at open bar events) it is best to find a bartender at the beginning of the night, tip them well and reap the benefits. I have been in packed night clubs and had 'my regular' already prepared and passed back to me over the heads of others. At quieter events you likely won't need that kind of service but you will likely get served first. Especially at events when cash transactions are not needed (open bar), tips are usually a lot less because people are not leaving their change on each order. Tipping 10 or 20$ goes a very long way for good service.

                                      1. I don't know... unless you are at a really crowded bar or open-bar event, where lots of people are clamoring for attention, a huge tip up front isn't really going to mean anything. Most of the bartenders I know are suspicious of customers who overtip for the first round.

                                        From my experience, getting better service is a mix of a better than average tip, being polite, and being regular. A bartender will remember a big tip, but unless you return consistently they won't build a profile of you in their head.

                                        17 Replies
                                        1. re: chorosch

                                          Suspicious of over-tip the first round?
                                          NAH!......when a group of us finished work and would go to a busy bar
                                          We always gave a $20 first round. This way, if we needed more drinks, we had them asap
                                          TIPS=To insure (ensure) prompt service
                                          Way back when, customers used to tip AHEAD of time to get fast service
                                          Just sayin'........:)

                                          1. re: NoFixedAddress

                                            Maybe it's a New York thing. Flashing a big tip up front means you are trying to impress your date, or imply to the bartender you're a big shot. I don't think bartenders here are much influenced by that. they'll take your money, it just doesn't guarantee anything.

                                            Or maybe New York bartenders are just jaded and too cool for a big tip.

                                            1. re: chorosch

                                              I live and have bartended in Manhatten and know many bartenders in Manhatten and the idea that bartenders are suspcious of big tips is silly. You drop a $20 for a round and I'll pay attention the next time you come to the bar. I really don't care if you are trying to impress your date.

                                              Bartenders maybe jaded but not when it comes to real money. Try to impress me with a $1? Yes, I'm jaded. $20 for two drinks? You have my attention.

                                              1. re: reatard

                                                You know as well as anyone NYC is a different from most cities. The thing about New York is there is so many options. When there is 10 bars every two blocks i feel you need to go above and beyond to try to gain loyal customers.

                                                1. re: noonan06

                                                  giving one away on every three is not the way to do it.

                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                    What do you think is a good guideline for buybacks?

                                                    1. re: noonan06

                                                      Bear in mind, my comments reflect a simple premise.....if the house doesn't make money.....then no one has a job........

                                                      I'm not against buy backs and freebies, but it has to be based on dollars spent, not an automatic formula of 1 on 3, 4 or five and etc. There's a rule you never buy the first drink.....but if you know the particular habits of a customer, i.e. he stays awhile, always spends x amount, or brings in guests and business associates......you can let him have a free ride......but they have to bring in top dollars, not little ones. There should not be any buy backs if there are already discounts or promotions in place, e.g., Happy Hour or Drink Nights...

                                                      Lets say you have a dollar mug promotion for beer and a customer has * 3. 4 or 5 * beers. The bartender asks if he can buy back the customer. My reply is * No *. and it would not change if he purchased 20 beers...for himself and his friends.....now if he stayed for dinner and spent some real money, than that would change my answer. If you are going to hold me to a number....I would say 4 for a regular at regular prices......5 for anyone who is a non regular who I would like to show appreciation for his business.....but the latter would depend on whether the customer could handle another drink and if they were driving.

                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                        Well said. I agree 100%. You have to understand your customers and the people spending money you want them to return on a regular basis. If it's a group of tourists that fly back home the next day, might not be worth it to the bar because you know they will not be back. If they drop a lot of money, a buy back might be a nice gesture. I think you hit the nail on the head....best post of the thread!

                                                      2. re: noonan06

                                                        New customers should have authorized rung-in entered drinks.

                                                        This qualifies the comp for a tax deduction as a "non-cash" promotional up to 5% of sales.

                                                        The new guests will be more likely to return. Regulars getting comped on a regular basis will become less profitable over time. Eventually ownership and/or management will clean house with the bartenders likely to join the exodus.

                                                        1. re: postemotional1

                                                          I think you are basing your entire opinion on profits are how it effects the bottom line of the business. I do not blame you , you start a business to make money ... Just I rather go to a place where I feel appreciated and welcomed, not judged by how much I make the business.

                                                          I left numerous places because I was treated on how much my tab was not as a customer

                                                          1. re: Augie6

                                                            "I left numerous places because I was treated on how much my tab was not as a customer"

                                                            A CUSTOMER is exactly what you were. You were NOT a guest, you were NOT a member of a not for profit club. You were a paying customer occupying square footage that has to turn so many dollars per day/week/year in order to provide a return on investment for the owner's capital.

                                                            The misuse of terms like 'guest' may provide a false sense of relationship between proprietor and customers. BUT, when making a purchase, we are all customers, and if the establishment cannot make a profit, it cannot stay in business.

                                                            Some customers are not profitable to serve. A chain, or employee may not ask the customer to take his/her patronage elsewhere, but an independent should find ways to increase the take or make the customer feel that he/she would be more comortable elsewhere.

                                                            A customer nursing one beer all Saturday night while seated at the bar, eating munchies and watching the game on TV is not profitable for the establishment (this is not saying this is your behavior) and should be encouraged to take his/her patronage elsewhere.

                                                            A customer seated 90 minutes at the bar who buys 2 drinks, but slips the bartender $20+ may be appreciated by the bartender, but is not profitable for the establishment. It's a matter of perspective. In most cases, the bartender is merely an employee. If the Bartender wants to assure employment in the long run, the bartender must kepp the slaes dollars per hour up.

                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                              Hey bagelman01 I agree with you in principle.. I hate seeing a person nurse a beer for an hour while eating the free buffet or happy hour food

                                                              Although, I am a GUEST and every establishment I EAT or Drink ---Every place I frequent treats me as a Friend and THE REASON they are in business not the other way around. Gratned I am a profitable customer, and will gain relationships with the owners managers and workers.

                                                    2. re: reatard

                                                      >>"I live and have bartended in Manhatten and know many bartenders in Manhatten"<<

                                                      Hmmm, I'm skeptical. Most people who live in a place can spell it correctly.

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            Butte-eye-full, koodent hav sayed itt bedder.

                                                2. It's about being humble and thankful
                                                  A lot of bartenders don't take the time out to say THANK YOU
                                                  Sure they may be busy but when I was on the bar, I always took time out to say thanks
                                                  A nice tip is always appreciated:)

                                                  1. "my" bartenders absolutely remember good tips.
                                                    this is one of the reasons that i choose to patronize this particular bar.
                                                    all the bartenders at that bar know i'm a good tipper.
                                                    they all remember my name, how i like my bloody mary to be made, what types of wine are my favorites, what i items i like from the bar menu, etc.
                                                    i give money, they give excellent service.
                                                    everybody's happy.

                                                    1. My Dh has always been a good tipper. He was a regular at the bar where we met and said that Pat, the bartender, would sometimes give him a free beer as thanks for the great tips.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                        I feel this topic is hard because every situation is different. I feel buybacks are necessary, others feel differently or their place of work feels differently. I guess if a place is successful that's all that matters, no matter how they run their operation. Is all i know is it feel good to sit at place and feel appriciated.

                                                        1. re: noonan06

                                                          If buybacks are "necessary" then the establishments aren't offering much.

                                                          I let guests feel appreciated by agreeing with them when they say that they hate their in-laws or by not telling anyone that they smoke when they drink.

                                                          Most "buybacks" are just bartenders stealing the products they don't own to stuff their pockets.

                                                          1. re: postemotional1

                                                            "Most "buybacks" are just bartenders stealing the products they don't own to stuff their pockets."

                                                            I'm quite good friends with 3 people that own bars and they all encourage buybacks to some extent. It has nothing to do with bartenders stuffing their pockets.

                                                            1. re: reatard

                                                              "Most "buybacks" are just bartenders stealing the products they don't own to stuff their pockets."..................that's just a dumb comment!!!

                                                              1. re: noonan06

                                                                the concept of "buybacks" is *intensely* regional and individual establishment based. there is no right or wrong answer, and the folks who are speaking in absolutes are not helping anything.

                                                                folks who are saying that buybacks are a patron's god given right for 25% of her/his total bar tab are just gonna tick off some guy in west texas or denver or wherever paying $2 for a non happy hour tap beer. "where's my freebie/handout that i'm entitled to?"

                                                                folks that are saying buybacks are unethical and wrong probably aren't thinking in terms of a $12 rum&coke in manhattan, or at the shishi gentleman's club. at those prices, after a few rounds, the house can probably throw the patron a freebie and still cut the rent check.

                                                                establishments that have a lower overall markup (including specials, happy hours, dollar drinks, etc), and/or lower volume sales, and/or more amenities (ex: nightclub with live band/entertainment getting a percentage cut of bar receipts) can ill afford constantly passing out free drinks. places with a high markup, fewer specials, fewer amenities. . . often can.

                                                                the customer shouldn't think of a free cocktail as a given, s/he should look at the establishment's total picture and total appeal. if there's a great selection, good entertainment, good staff, decent prices overall, it's a good pub, plain & simple. if the drinks are expensive but it's a nice atmosphere and the friendly bartender frequently gives out drinks that don't appear on one's tab. . . it's a good pub, plain & simple. two different business models, neither one is a bad thing. the customer doesn't get to go into any establishment and dictate the business model to the owner or the owner's employees, period. and, imo the current widespread customer expectation of a gratis goodie bag everywhere they go. . . it's got problems. need to realize that the handouts increase the prices for everyone-- and there is still no free lunch, folks-- somebody pays.

                                                                of course there are crooked bartenders who slide drinks and thereby increase their overall take. this *is* wrong, and it absolutely is stealing. it's also no fun to have to work with these clowns, being an honest bt. . . different subject entirely, i hope.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  I agree, there is no right answer to this debate and different bars have different situations. I work in manhattan so i might have a different opinion from someone in texas or 3 blocks down. good post!

                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                    The problem I have with places that could do buybacks (not $2 beer places) but don't is that they are usually not much fun. I don't care much about buybacks per se, but if a place doesn't do them even though they could, it's usually a sign of a very corporate or anal retentive management style that will likely set the tone for the place in general. I don't mind the fact that a bar has strict policies about handling its revenue, it's just that it less likely to see any of my dollars in the revenue stream since I would rather spend them at more easy-going places.

                                                                  2. re: noonan06

                                                                    What is dumb about my comment? If a bartender buys out of his/her own pocket now THAT is a "buyback'.

                                                                    1. re: postemotional1

                                                                      If a bartender buys out of his/her own pocket now THAT is a "buyback'.

                                                                      My experience was a bartender offered to pay out of "their" pocket if you caught them "giving away" too many just before you were going to fire them.

                                                                      1. re: postemotional1

                                                                        a good bartender will use the buyback to gain customers. A good bartender will never abuse buybacks and take advantage of the bar. every situation is different and not all bartenders are crooks. Just my opinion.

                                                                        1. re: noonan06

                                                                          No, not all bartenders are crooks. I am not.

                                                                          I am a "spotter" as well as a bartender and have done both for 19 years.

                                                                          Most bartenders jobs end because of integrity "issues" as do most bar managers. Happy endings are few and far between.

                                                            2. I consider myself a good tipper. We have a few places where we are regulars at the bar and we strive to take care of the staff and they take care of us. It's not an exact science, but we get comped a lot, reserved a bottle of wine if there is one left and they know we're coming in, an occasional free menu item to sample, etc.

                                                              I have also been in there and only had one drink and they insist on taking care of it.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                when i went to my favorite bar /restaurant the night i had to have my devoted dog put down, ALL of the bartenders refused to take my money, and the MANAGER came over to express his sympathy, and the CHEF sent over my food gratis.

                                                                i am a consistently big tipper and a regular at the place, and the way they handled me that night ensured that i would never stray as long as any of them worked there.
                                                                it was a coordinated effort and in some sense a corporate decision, they showed me caring and appreciation that night that was over and above.

                                                              2. I travel on business regularly to about 20 different cities and I know bartenders WILL remember you if you tip generously. I always tip 20%+ of the after tax bill. I ALWAYS get prompt, friendly service, no matter how busy the bar may be at that moment. (If I am traveling with colleagues who are poor tippers, the staff pretty much ignores them.) Even though I may not have been to a particular bar in months, they usually remember what I drink. My drinks are always strong and my glass is never empty.

                                                                  1. re: meowmeowmeeow

                                                                    That's not true....most of the time yes, but not always....There will always be some who do not appreciate your generosity and no matter how much you give they will never remember or acknowledge your gesture.

                                                                  2. I have had people remember me a year later. I don't "expect" a heavy pour, but usually get one. Also, I typically get to "try" expensive spirits when I show interest because most restaurants have comp budgets to comp diners tastes of food and items. While these comps are not guaranteed, you can bet they are at the server's discretion and who do you think gets these appetizers, deserts, cocktails etc? Yeah, it's the ones that tip and they like. I probably have wasted the equivalent of 10 dinners at French Laundry by over tipping, but I operate on karma and find it does come back around.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: bamagirl30

                                                                      in which case, it wasn't wasted at all

                                                                    2. I believe that bartenders definitely remember if you are a good tipper or not. I always tip well, above 50 percent on most occasions just because I enjoy chatting with the bartenders and I appreciate their service. As a result I never have to wait for a drink, and usually am given "extras" on the house.

                                                                        1. another old tipping thread. lol.

                                                                          i have worked in places where servers and bartenders were NOT allowed to cash out cc slips until the very end of the shift. chances are the servers knew who went with what charge, but with a mountain of slips for the bar, they likely didn't.

                                                                          could be a different bartender cashes out the slip -- not the one who served you -- and has no idea who you are. but if you're someplace more than a few times and they don't remember you as a 50% tipper, you either need to pay cash or need a new place.

                                                                          as for the buybacks? in my state "giving away" free or even discounted alcohol is strictly forbidden by the law. a place could lose its license and they go for $250,000+ these days when and IF one of the limited number becomes available. rent and the cost of doing business are among the highest in the u.s.

                                                                          some places allow bartenders to run a "comp" check and those "free" drinks get rung up and comped out by a manager at the end of the shift.

                                                                          i have a number of friends and colleagues, as well as former bosses, who run VERY successful, famous restaurants and bars. these include james beard award winners and legendary cocktail peeps. do i get free stuff when i visit? yes. every time? nope. i am not the only person eating/drinking there that they know since they know "everybody".

                                                                          i also know some bar owners who have zero tolerance for giving away anything. ever. however, when i go, my drink and ice water are being poured as i enter; everybody is nice and knows my name. am ok with that too.

                                                                          is there any other industry where patrons routinely expect free stuff simply for showing up? do you go to the grocery store 3 times and on the 4th visit expect a cart full of rib-eyes or pudding cups? do you expect free gas after the 8th fill-up? free sneakers with those $100 loafers? an extra room on your house cuz you're paying the carpenters every week?


                                                                          1 Reply