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Tipping a bartender on an absolute, bare minimum, to the drop pour.

The other night at a restaurant on the upper west side of Manhattan I sat at the bar while waiting for a friend to join me. I asked the bartender (a young blond actress type wishing she was clearly someplace else) about the 3 Rosés they had and if I could have a taste of two of them to choose. No problem. One was decent; typically in restaurants, Rosés are lifeless and plain but this was pleasant enough. It was $9 a glass. I watched her eyeball the pour to maybe, maybe 4 and a half oz. While pouring she had the concentration of a neurosurgeon removing a tumor to pouring the absolute minimum. Not one drop extra would be in the glass. In fact, she left about 1 oz in the bottle, corked it and put it back in the ice bin. (Later I watched her pour the remnants of that bottle into another customer's glass, open another bottle and top off the glass to her minimum standard again.)

Okay, I see where we are. It's my choice how we go forward as the lesson is mine. Fool me once... Maybe the owners watch her like a hawk, but that didn't make sense as she was allowed to free pour the cocktails and not measure as I would expect with a hawkish owner. Those pours were also scant at best. Nope, I think she's doing what she thinks is best, but it's definitely not in her best interest to make money.

Then, despite all the evidence I had, I ordered another one. I really didn't expect anything different and she performed exactly as predicted. It was a roll of the dice.

So, now I'm stuck. I know she's making a living off of tips and I feel like a schmuck. Problem is: she's a terrible, terrible bartender. I feel incredibly guilty not tipping her. But I also feel slighted, taken advantage of, a John Doe, captive to protocol, and in a hole of expectations. I look like the jerk if I don't tip. Here's the thing: I have the money, you have the booze. This is a symbiotic relationship. It's quid pro quo. You take care of me and I take care of you. The owner gets the $9 for the glass and your fate is by the pour. The bartender has given me even less then the bare minimum and I'm supposed to give the full price plus a tip? I was really torn. What do you all think? What do you do?

(Yes, I tipped. I gave a buck a drink but loathed it.)

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  1. I never recall ever asking for for a free sample of alcohol anywhere. Perhaps it's just my region. In some cases, I've been offered a sample/comparison if I asked for a recommendation. In that case, I did not watch the amount of the pour. I just appreciated a chance to check first. It did not take much for me to know if I wanted to order or not.

    5 Replies
    1. re: CyndiA

      Most of the bars I most frequently patronize will pour a free shot, or maybe a little more, of whatever beer they have on tap if a customer asks what one of the offerings is like. I'm not sure I've ever seen a free sample of wine or liquor given, though.

      1. re: MonMauler

        Yeah, most places I go will give a free taste of a beer on tap if you're undecided. Though I think we're both near Pittsburgh. Still, I think that's fairly common in a lot of regions. I've also been offered small tastes of wine when I'm buying by the glass and asked for a recommendation between two or three choices. Never seen it with liquor though.

        1. re: cowboyardee

          Yep, Pittsburgh here; however, it does seem that the practice of offering free samples of beer to undecided customers is typical in most of the places I've traveled throughout this country. I usually don't drink wine at the bar, which probably accounts for my lack of familiarity with the practice in that regard.

        2. re: MonMauler

          I've not seen a free sample of liquor. But a "taste" pour of a wine? Yup, most bars will do that. At least here in New England they do.

        3. re: CyndiA

          Here in Richmond, VA, it is not uncommon at all for a bartender to offer a taste of wine that is offered by the glass if a customer is undecided.

        4. I should put out the disclaimer, I am a bartender myself. It was kind of her to give you the samples, especially if a manager/owner is watching her like a hawk, he likely would not allow that. I would guess her to the drop pour is also a management thing. Many managers feel that her method is the only way to do it; and the customer to customer consistency is their "it" factor. The reality though, is that most people generally don't tip just because you pour a stiff drink, they tip because you are a nice person, you are efficient, you make your customers comfortable. If she didn't hit those points for you, leave a buck, it's worth her time, and it's only about 10%. If she was stellar, tip more; but please understand that pour is often out of our control. You did the right thing by tipping her a buck, and my advice would be to get your Vino somewhere else next time, where the service can match or at least make up for the pour.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GlynessD

            I agree with this.

            Tipping bartenders should be on service, not the pour, and her service seemed horrible.

          2. Oh, so you think after you got a *free* sample, that somehow you are entitled to an over pour for *what reason* exactly? What am I missing here? First, you judge by looks, and assume not a professional, why? Then you want a over pour...and feel entitled, why?
            She works for the house and not you. She must pour the exact serve. Why do you feel, you deserve, oh wait, are entitled to more? You said you had scant pours, so I must assume you measured. Otherwise, it is just what you "observed". So owner gets what? OMG...you think you should get over-pours, on the basis of WHAT?
            So what do I think? I think you suck up "free" (as if) samples, then expect overpours and maybe you will tip. cheep cheep cheep...a baby chuck just got here.

            15 Replies
            1. re: Quine

              You ask, "What am I missing here?" and I'll answer -- a great deal. As I explain deeper in the thread, I wasn't drinking "free" samples and complaining about the pour of the samples. That would be crass, don't you think? I was noting that the initial pour of the drink I ordered after the "taste" was well short of any reasonable pour. (see my explanation of a "taste" below; it's not what you're thinking.) Not an over pour, just the common 8 oz pour. I didn't feel I was entitled to more I felt entitled to 8 oz not less than 5. While I always appreciate and like more I didn't expect it. Ironically, 90% of the bartenders in the city, outside of the tourist traps, pour very, very generously.

              Nope, I didn't measure. I did however use the last 30 years experience of drinking wine at restaurants and bars to be able to tell when I'm getting slighted. I used that same experience to make a pretty good guess that her career ambitions did not have anything to do with being behind this particular restaurant bar. Since she's probably going to starve and lose the apartment if she's counting on tips from her service I suspect she's a far more accomplished professional in her future ventures.

              1. re: Particular

                A "standard" wine serving size is 4 to 6oz, not 8oz. This is of course not necessarily a community "standard", but it is a standard as used by most government when teaching "rule of thumb" guidelines for drivers ed, FDA measurements of servings per container, etc.

                Some restaurants (I'm looking at you national chain owned restaurants!) allow their bar staff choice to either free pour or measure their drinks, but in order to free-pour, they actually test them to insure they pour within 5% to 10% of the chain's standard of a proper measure. While you may be used to an 8 oz pour, national chains don't give a rats ass about what you are used to. From my experience, while some places in NYC have a standard pour well in excess of 8oz for a glass of wine, enough places in NYC that I have gone to do follow an ~4oz serving size that I would not consider it unusual. Then chain restaurant management may also reconcile inventory tallies over time vs number of drinks rung up in the register to see if there is any significant deviation over time by the bar staff.

                While I don't think that she short-changed you, nor did she do anything wrong, a "tip" is not only left to make up for a scandalous minimum wage, but it is also as an appreciation of service above and beyond a minimum. It appears that from your description, she did a minimum service to you, no more no less (though you may have thought otherwise), so she should have gotten the minimum tip. As for the amount, $1.00 per drink per pour in NYC at a non-college bar is about right, in part because neither the customer nor the staff want to deal with change.

                1. re: Particular

                  No where in the world is 8oz considered a standard pour of wine.
                  Standard pour of wine is from 4-5oz. A generous overpour is 6oz
                  Standard pour of fortified wine (port,sherry) is 3.5-4oz.

                  1. re: RichardBreadcrumb

                    Not entirely true in NYC - there are plenty of "local" bars where when you order wine, they actually top off the wine glass. I can't speak to Particular's experience, but in my experience, these establishments are usually serving from 1.5 liter bottles of Yellowtail or some equivalent in response to an order that is by wine type (eg "glass of white wine please", or "glass of merlot"). Free "all you can drink" wine with your meal that serves from a box also tops the glass. On the other hand, I have also been to plenty of restaurants where if you order a fairly nice glass of wine from the available by the glass selections off of an extensive wine menu with your meal, while not 8oz, the serving is definitely larger than 4oz. However, the restaurants often charge noticeably more than 1/8th of the cost of a bottle for a "by the glass" serving vs ordering the entire bottle, so the increased size is factored in even if the consumer is not conscious of it.

                    I'd guess that Particular is moving in the direction of many people to a larger norm of portion sizes where a serving is larger and the price is higher to make up for it without the consumer being conscious of it. For example, I'm used to 1 oz = 1 shot, 2oz = a double, but now many people are used to 1 shot = 1.5 oz, and some people expect a shot to be 2 oz, and a double to be 3 to 4 oz. Just as a portion size of liquid is 8oz, but the actual serving sizes tend to be 12 to 16oz, or a portion size of fish/meat is 3oz, but the actual serving sizes tend to be 8 to 12oz and 3oz burgers are "sliders"/ appetizers.

                    1. re: khuzdul

                      Yikes! 8 oz of Yellowtail! How much do I have to pay to NOT drink that stuff.

                      Don't get your point about 1/8 of the cost of a bottle.A pour of that size would be really small. Pricing that I typically see of wines BTG is about 1/4 of the price of a bottle.

                      The standard shot size when making mixed drinks is 1.5 oz.

                      1. re: Bkeats

                        I typed wrong about the 1/8th... I meant about 1/6th, as 4 oz is approx 1/6th of a 750ml bottle (I realize that no one would simply charge 1/6th of a bottle of wine for a glass, but I've heard so many times from someone eyeballing a bottle of wine or liquor, guess the price, and then do a straight division to complain about drink prices). My point about the cost of the glass was simply that the places that have a policy of pouring "more" by the glass are not doing it gratis to the consumer - they charge whatever amount they think is appropriate for the quantity that they serve, because if they didn't they would be out of business.

                        As for standard shot size, my point about "shot" size was "standard' is a vague term which differs from place to place, group to group, one time to another. I learned my drinking and mixing habits from books that followed the various UK "Weights and Measures Acts" before they metricized (though a "shot" is still pretty much the same amount in mL terms after metricization). Thus to me a shot is 1oz, a double is 2oz, and a jigger is 1.5oz. The two sided bar tool called a "Jigger" used to be a jigger measure on one side (1.5 oz) and a pony measure on the other (1 oz), now you can get Jiggers in many sizes, so the term Jigger is not associated to a specific measure. To me, a shot=pony, shot!=jigger. While this "standard" may be useful when reading old cocktail books, I understand that this is not the "standard' in U.S. bars today and I use the appropriate "standard" for the situation.

                      2. re: khuzdul

                        sorry -- I quit drinking wine at restaurants that pour wine to the brim of a wine glass a long time ago.

                        More is not always better.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          precisely, and if someone doesn't know that a half-decent wine needs a little room to grow, well...

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            normally when restaurants pour wine to the brim, the wine they are pouring is rotgut.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              that, too -- but it's just a flashing neon sign that they know jack about wine.

                      3. re: Particular

                        Pouring generously so you get bigger tips is stealing from the owner. Don't you ever watch "Bar Rescue"? Ninety percent of the time the overpours are what's sinking the bar. I watched one last week where the take was $1600 for the night but the bartenders had poured $2795 worth of booze so they could get tips. That's theft.

                        1. re: Particular

                          Weight Watchers also says that a standard glass of wine is 4 oz. I agree with khuzdul.

                          1. re: Particular

                            EIGHT ounces is a standard pour to you? for wine?

                            not in any restaurant/bar i have ever frequented.
                            where is THAT the normal amount?

                            eight ounces is the normal pour for orange juice, not for wine.

                          2. re: Quine

                            Right on Quine! I tended bar at a place with craft beers and we were encouraged to give samples. The vast majority of bartenders DO NOT have the freedom to give away a product that they do not own. Many of us are on camera. Meter pouring and shot pouring are dictates of ownership whether corporate or individual and policy is violated at the peril of the bartender.

                            Furthermore, places that promote from within have servers who will rat you out at the drop of a cocktail napkin. What makes tip money is good face time with guests and prompt service.

                            Oh yeah, i work as a spotter and have on and off for 20 years.

                          3. Couple of things seem to have been confused here -- perhaps it was my prose. First, there was no "free sample.' There was a taste. You have more saliva in your mouth than what a bartender will pour for a taste and it's extremely common here in New York. It's about the same amount you've left in your glass that ran down the sides when you're through drinking. And owner/manager approved. Competition among bars/restaurants in New York is fierce since one can easily walk out the front door, turn right or left and walk 15 steps to a different one. A "taste" for comparison is common. The rosés came from very different grapes and regions. Second, I purchased the drinks. 2 for $18. Third, my argument was about fairness. 8 oz. is an expected pour. Both of mine were less than 2/3 that. That was not management, that was the bartender. And brings me again to my dilemma: how do I justify doing anything extra when even the most simplest of expectations fell so short. In my eyes, out of two drinks, she's completely screwed me out of at least 6 ounces, and, I'm the jerk for not wanting to tip. Remember, the "taste" is common -- it's nothing special here.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: Particular

                              I would never expect an 8oz pour of wine.

                              Maybe she had just been told to watch her pouring. Her job is probably worth more to her than your $1 tip.

                              1. re: jaykayen

                                I think you're correct jaykayen. You got me thinking and pouring here at home. And, 6 oz seems to be my mental image of the correct pour. I also poured 4.5 in a glass and that looks a little more than what she poured me that night. Still, in this town, outside of some red-sauce joint in Little Italy that's a slight.

                              2. re: Particular

                                If you think 8 oz is a "normal" and "standard" pour for a glass of wine, you need to read this:


                                1. re: Particular

                                  I think that a huge part of this is that the serving size was combined with mediocre to poor customer service.

                                  While the tight pour may have been mandated by management, combining that with the minimum of customer service shouldn't result in a great tip. How many times do servers get shorted on a tip because of something entirely to do with the kitchen? If the kitchen is behind so the meal takes a long time, AND the server is just going through the motions - I'm sure lots of patrons wouldn't leave a wonderful tip.

                                  Also, while 4.5 oz might be required in that bar, she's probably aware it's a smaller serving than lots of other bars (or she's just really inexperienced in the area, or doesn't care). And so in those situations it's even more required for "better service". Where I currently live, a standard mixed drink (i.e. gin & tonic as opposed to a true cocktail) comes with two shots of alcohol. So should a bar open where a gin & tonic is going to be served with one shot of gin and be priced similar to what the competitors are charging - the bar tender would be aware. Now perhaps people would still not go because of the 'poor value' - but if the service was great then the bartender would not be the person to pay the immediate cost of management's decision.

                                  1. re: Particular

                                    I think your idea of the amount of wine in a glass is way out of proportion. 8oz is nearly 1/3 of a bottle. When I'm at home and entertaining and open a bottle of wine for 4, a bottle will be enough to pour wine for all four and then have wine left in the bottle. Usually enough left for at least one more glass. So I think of a typical glass being 4.5 to 5 oz. 6 would be generous. I don't think I have wine glasses that would hold 8oz without the risk of spilling. So you didn't get a generous pour but you didn't get cheated.

                                    1. re: Particular

                                      where exactly is it "common" to expect something for nothing?

                                      1. re: Particular

                                        You've said it twice so far that 8 oz. is a standard "expected pour." I have *never* seen 8 oz. be a standard pour. Anywhere. Not in NJ, NYC, anywhere in New England, Pennsylvania, California, Seattle, Phoenix, Richmond, VA, Charlotte, NC, Orlando, New Orleans, Chicago, London, Galway, Mexico - wherever I've been, 6 oz. is a *most* generous pour.

                                        But 8 oz? No. Two glasses for $9.00 each is about right on the pricing, depending on the quality of the wine, which you said was "decent enough."

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          You are right — 8 oz is not a typical pour for wine. There should be four glasses from a 750 ml bottle, which is 6.5 oz each. A minimum pour should be 6 oz, which in practice will fall between 6 and 6.5 oz.

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            My understanding is that there is often up to 5 glasses from a bottle of wine, so 5 oz. per glass would be minimum.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              INDUSTRY STANDARD IS VARIABLE 4,5 or 6 pours per 750ml bottle,the variable often is based on the value,caliber of wines poured .... quite a few places are very upfront about it on a printed menu...
                                              .for some very costly bottles it's not unusual to pricing at 3oz,8 pours

                                              all this crap about 8oz pours being normal is just that crap

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Clearly it is a choice each establishment makes for itself.

                                        2. I probably woulda done what you did - tip a dollar. But I wouldn't have left mad about it. Bartender pours me a drink, doesn't mess up my order or insult me - I tip a buck. If they're funny or charming or if they give a generous pour or a good recommendation or are clearly busting their ass or if I'm just feeling generous/tipsy - I tip more. Not sure why you're so burnt up about it.

                                          BTW, I can practically guaranty you this thread will go down in flames.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. If I get a stingy pour I'll usually tip around 10%, as you seem to have done in this situation, unless the bartender is extremely friendly, attractive or attentive, in which case I'll tip a little higher. Much more often, I recieve generous pours, and I tip more in the 20-25% or range. I usually add the cost of customary drinks into the bill and tip on that total, leaving the cost of the customary drinks plus a generous tip for the bartender.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: MonMauler

                                              how does tipping $1 for TWO $9 glasses of wine work out to 10%?
                                              works out to less than 6% for two glasses of wine and wine tastings to boot.

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                He said "a buck a drink", not a buck for both drinks.

                                            2. Living in a culture where alcohol is poured with a meter, and wine glasses are etched with a pour line, I'm not sure I'm seeing the issue here.

                                              You ordered a glass of wine, she poured you a glass of wine according to the portion control of the house, but yet you 'loathed' leaving her the tip that she'd earned by fulfilling your order promptly and without dumping it or being snarly.

                                              8oz? Does anybody actually POUR 8 oz of wine? that's 250ml -- full 1/3 of the bottle.

                                              1. I was at a bar/restaurant in the LES last year. The bartender poured my glass of wine and there was a little bit still left in the bottle. Under her breath, she said to me "I'm going to pour you the rest, but don't say anything, act natural, just look away." And she did, quickly. She actually seemed nervous. It was weird and I felt bad for her, imagining what her boss must be like!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Kat

                                                  Sometimes at chain grocery stores, they'll slice your meat, weigh it, and if it's over the amount you ordered they will print the sticker w/ the correct amount and then slap the extra slices on top and give them to you. Me likey. ;-)

                                                2. I see a couple of things at work here. First, you're in NYC which, almost by definition, is a different world from every other place in the country. Having grown up and tended bar there back in the Jurassic period, it was a shock to go elsewhere (actually everywhere) and find that every third or forth drink was not "on the house" or that a pour might not be what I was used to. In NYC in particular, bartenders are pretty freewheeling with their alcohol. Not so much elsewhere so, with the possible exception of New Yorkers, you're probably not going to find much sympathy here.
                                                  Then there's the possibility that the bartender is just doing what she's been ordered to do. Maybe she was chastised the day before for over pouring, who knows? Maybe it was her first day (we all had our first day sometime) and she doesn't know what she can get away with or what's expected just yet.
                                                  Either way, a buck per drink was fine - certainly not worth the energy to loath anything.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                    Yes, bobbert, sadly buy-backs have left NYC just like H & H bagels and mom and pop stores. On busy nights a bartender would turn over a shot glass on the bar in front of you to indicate they owe you a drink after your 3rd. When you ordered your 4th drink the bartender would declare it was on them. They didn't offer it, they waited until you ordered. This would never be allowed if people got into cars to drive home so thankfully we all get into cabs, subways, or stumble home.

                                                  2. I bartended in NYC for a while. I wasn't a young blond actress type, but still probably a "terrible, terrible" one, in your book--merely because I was following the rules of my job layed down (and hawkishly observed) by my employer. But, hey, I guess you did the right thing. For a schmuck. Instead of taking it up with management, who are clearly responsible for this sort of thing, you decided to take it out on her tip. You're ignoring the fact that part of that tip goes to other workers at that restaurant who made sure you had a clean glass, among other things. But, hey! YOU felt slighted! That's the important part. And yet you payed the real slighters full price--but conveniently took your displeasure out on the server, thereby saving yourself a few bucks. Rather cowardly, if you ask me. And tipping $1.00 on a $9.00 glass of wine plus tax in NYC is really cheap. And stupid, considering you then took a table with your friend and presumably ordered more things from the same bartender.

                                                    22 Replies
                                                    1. re: staughton

                                                      While the OP may have considered the bartender "terrible terrible" for how much she poured - he also picked up on an attitude that she didn't want to be there. Had she perhaps talked to him or engaged in additional customer service small talk to a person sitting alone at a bar, how much she poured would not have been all he took into account when tipping. As the post reads to me, all he had to base his tip on was how much he was served and the manner in which it was served. And that is partially the bartenders fault. She may not be able to control how much she pours, but she can control her attitude.

                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                        Attitude? The only "attitude" alluded to by the OP (after summing up her looks, which he apparently found relevant to his assessment of her professionally) was the projection that she was "wishing she was clearly somewhere else." Really? He knows that? Perhaps he was mistaking the lack of flirty attention from an attractive woman a little too personally, or more likely, that she had something else on her mind. I once spent an entire night serving people having just been given the information that my mother was in a coma, hundreds of miles away. But I'm sure some clod on the other side of the bar was thinking I thought I was too good for him/her because I wasn't staring dreamily into their eyes and giving them double pours. Regardless, she did her job, and even gave him tastes of various wines before he finally ordered. And NO mention of how busy she was says fairly clearly to me that the OP isn't paying attention to anything but his immediate needs--if, indeed, a glass of wine can be called a need--especially when someone believes 8 oz. is a standard pour, which would be patently absurd pouring Inglenook from a box in Peoria, forget the Upper West Side.

                                                        1. re: staughton

                                                          As someone working in customer service, if a customer presumes that you don't want to be there - that is the customer picking up on an attitude. For a server or bartender to presume that all they need to do to get a tip is the bare minimum in conversation and pleasantries - then they're gonna get the bare minimum of a tip.

                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                            cressyd: so serving the correct amount of wine in a timely fashion in a clean glass AND giving the OP free samples of wine with no complaint is deserving of a 6% tip?

                                                            that customer would NOT have been welcomed back by the owners of any of the restaurants in which i used to work.

                                                            when i read the OPs posts, it sounds to me that the main beef was not that the bartendress didn't schmooze him/her up, it sounds like the OP was pissed that s/he wasn't given an EIGHT OUNCE POUR.

                                                            the disappointment that the actual pour didn't approach the size of the expected pour (8 oz) was mentioned in the title of the OP and repeated in subsequent posts.

                                                          2. re: staughton

                                                            Staughton, I totally agree with you. It's amazing what some people think a person needs to do to be considered friendly. It's also often justification for lowering the tip when what they are really dissatisfied with is how expensive something is. Unless a server says something to indicate they don't want to be there or they frown or etc., and anyway, they are there to bring me drink or food not tap dance and give me a floor show. Going down in flames now!

                                                            1. re: Missmoo

                                                              Yeah, I've heard many a reason for not tipping over the years. But 99% of the time it's a justification for cheapness, and restaurants/bars are arenas where people are free to get away with it.

                                                              1. re: staughton

                                                                That seems like a really easy way to discredit people who you've never met without having to evaluate whether or not good or bad customer service was given.

                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                  And that seems like an easy response from someone who works in customer service but has never worked for tips.

                                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                                    cresyd: the OP was given FREE samples of wine to taste before being served, just THAT fact is highly suggestive that the OP received good service.
                                                                    add to this, the OP complained in two posts that, in addition to the free tastes, s/he expected TWO EIGHT OUNCE POURS.

                                                                    this doesn't paint a picture? really?

                                                          3. re: staughton

                                                            FWIW, I don't feel bad about tipping a buck on a single drink that took all of 10 seconds to serve. That's my minimum tip and there are many times and situations where I'd tip more, but guilt over being cheap or depriving someone of their hard earned money is not really a motivating factor. I understand that rent is high in NYC, but let's be honest - a lot of NYC bartenders are extremely well compensated for their work. I would almost never tip a waiter less than 20% but the same logic just doesn't apply to bartenders as far as I'm concerned. If I order a single glass of Johnny Walker Blue at a bar (I don't but that's not the point) I might tip a buck or five more than had I ordered a PBR, but I'm not tipping $15 most likely... and strangely, that doesn't weigh on my conscience in the least.

                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                              cowboyardee: the OP tipped a buck on TWO drinks and some free samples that s/he received.

                                                            2. re: staughton

                                                              Not sure how you figure an 11% tip on bar service is cheap. As you can read throughout the thread a buck a drink is just about the norm. I didn't "take it out on her." I didn't "rather cowardly" save "a few bucks." Not sure how you can discern management is "clearly responsible" based on what's known. Nope, didn't take a table and eat. And, dinner service merits 15 to 20% gratuity, bar service 10%. Seriously questioning that you actually bartended in NYC.

                                                              1. re: Particular

                                                                A buck a drink isn't really the norm when your tip ends up being below 15%...

                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                  Drinks are tipped by the glass, not at a fixed percentage. This can be higher in a place which is generally more expensive, say $1.50 or $2 per drink. Or more if a drink is more work. At my regular watering hole, it's $1 for a $4 or $5 beer. Also $1 for a glass of wine, which is a little more. But a Bloody Mary, made from scratch the proper way, is $2 because it's more work.

                                                                  If a glass of wine is $9 for only 4 1/2 fl. oz., I don't see anything wrong with a $1 tip. The service is the same regardless of the price of the wine, and the service is minimal.

                                                                  This rule applies only to drinks, not food service.

                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                    I disagree. I tip 20% + just as I do for food service.

                                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                      So if you ask for a glass of soda water with a lime, and it's complimentary, you don't tip at all? For me, it's the same tip as for a glass of wine?

                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                        Now that's interesting as I too will tip on a free glass of water, my thinking being that the tip is for the "service". OTOH, I'm quite sure my tip for a round of drinks that came to, say $40 would probably be much more than the same number of glasses of water even if the workload was similar - like popping the top off 6 bottles of beer. So I guess I'm all over the place.

                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                          I've never gone to a place and gotten just a drink like soda water. The only time would involve food as well (like at lunch time).

                                                                          20% is my bare minimum unless the serve is openly rude. And I always round up to the nearest "0" or "5". So if I ate at a bar at lunch and got a sandwich and ice water and with tax it came to $9.35, the starting point would be $2. If everything was average, I'd tip $3. If there was a refill on the water, the server was exceptionally friendly and attentive (no waiting for the refill or the check, etc.) I'd likely tip $4 or $5.

                                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                            No, no. One orders a soda water after a couple of drinks in order to stay hydrated and not drink too much alcohol.

                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                              Usually if I'm in a place that long I have a tab. I almost never pay by round any more.

                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                Exactly. We always have a tab unless we're pressed for time and planning to only have one drink.

                                                                2. re: staughton

                                                                  staughton: if i read correctly the OP tipped $1 on TWO glasses of wine AND the free tastes--even worse.

                                                                3. why not just ask? ask what volume their glass is if it doesn't say on the menu. Any restaurant I have worked in has included the volume of a glass in the wine list, and if you feel you did not get what you were supposed to get, then certainly ask for a measure. We used a mark on the wall, so while it might not look like we were measuring when we poured, we certainly did every time, and there were times we were challenged and people thought it was not the correct amount, but it always was. Never over poured and also never under poured.

                                                                  never assume that they are out to get you or trying to cheat you, just ask, they might just have a different glass volume then other restaurants you frequent. if you don't voice your opinion in the restaurant or ask management about it you have no reason to get angry and take it out on the workers.

                                                                  1. Maybe NYC really is a different country. Nobody here gives an EIGHT ounce pour for a glass of wine, that is crazy. I live in the midwest and a 4-5 oz pour is standard.

                                                                    1. Also a former bartender, and I'm pretty sure that had I poured an 8oz glass of wine more than once I would have been fired. Our pours were 4.5 to 5 oz. The business felt it was important enough that we hit that mark that there were actual measuring glasses with two lines on them for us to have side by side with the glass we were pouring. If I had an ounce left in the bottle, that sure as hell stayed in the bottle for the next glass. It's not my establishment. That ounce isn't mine to give away for free so I can get an extra large tip while taking profit away from the owner. Sure, that one ounce won't break the bar, but after doing that repeatedly it will undoubtedly eat into profit.

                                                                      I think your problem is with the establishment with their pour size, not the bartender. That's fine, go somewhere else--don't take it out an employee who is doing as they are told.

                                                                      1. Yeah, sorry but your attitude completely puzzles me. She gave you tastes and a completely standard and generally acceptable pour (I have never ever ever seen an 8oz wine pour at a bar or restaurant). Nothing in your story indicates to me that she was being a "terrible, terrible" bartender or that she took advantage of you. I'm glad you tipped her, but it's probably best for her and for you if you don't go back.

                                                                        1. I can't figure out where there is any basis for a complaint. You ordered a drink, you got a standard pour for that bar, the tip should be a minimum $1 per drink. There was no basis for any resentment at feeling obligated to tip. But you don't have to like the place or the bartender. So go somewhere else next time and forget about it. Sometimes a bar does not meet expectations. In the scope of life's problems, this is small potatoes.

                                                                          Fretting about a $1 tip for a bartender betrays an absence of class.

                                                                          1. At our favorite locally-owned place, the bartenders have a measuring stick (of sorts) they use to pour exactly the amount of wine every single time. A mere sip left in the bottle will go right back into the cooler. My husband thought this was silly and asked the bar manager about it. Policy, she said, no exceptions. You get the exact same amount each time, no more, no less.

                                                                            The same bar will, on the other hand, happily hand out multiple, generously sized samples of their various draft selections.

                                                                            1. I am replying to your original post after reading the entire thread and your subsequent posts. I'll start by saying it is more than 35 years since I tended bar, and 30 years since I left the catering business. BUT I am an attorney.

                                                                              Good businesses set standards for pour levels, and a bar that pours 8oz glasses of wine is leaving itself open to great exposure for the wrongdoings of a patron after the patron leaves the bar.

                                                                              The bartender who serves you 2-3 4 ounce galsses in an hour and one-half visit, might be safe, but if your were served 24 ounces of wine in that period, the license and the worth of the business might be at risk.

                                                                              Yes, you are in NYC, a place where most patrons won't be driving home, but taking a cab or mass transit or walking, but the barkeep must be cautious.

                                                                              You are not entitked to one drop above the house set minimum pour. If a bartender overpours, that bartender is not only putting the owner at risk, but may be stealing product that is not the bartender's to dispense without authorization.

                                                                              As to bars you visit where they top off the wine glass, that's absurd, or they're pouring boxed garbage. Wine glasses are designed to let the wine move and breathe (there are differnt shapes and sizes for different varieties.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                I don't think that the OP meant by "top off" filling a glass to the brim.

                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                  but yet they exist -- I've sent back more than one glass of wine that was sloshing over the top -- now I just don't even order if I see they fill the glass - because it shows that they know so little about wine that their selection isn't going to be fit to drink, either.

                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                    GH1618: the OP states in two different posts that s/he expected an EIGHT OUNCE POUR.
                                                                                    imho, that WOULD suggest that the OP expected that the glass be topped off.

                                                                                2. "Rosés are lifeless and plain" seriously? white zinfandel has been passe for quite some time.

                                                                                  "I watched her eyeball the pour to maybe, maybe 4 and a half oz" um, really? 4-5 oz is a typical, expected and reasonable glass of wine. I would absolutely expect to pay $9 for a decent 4-5 oz glass of wine
                                                                                  Am I understanding you to say that this 4-5 oz pour was a SAMPLE? or was it a glass that you purchased?

                                                                                  it is not "less than the bare minimum"
                                                                                  she is not a "terrible, terrible bartender"
                                                                                  you should tip adequately

                                                                                  "I feel like a schmuck"

                                                                                  1. Thank God for measures, optics and not having to worry about this stuff. :-)

                                                                                    1. I live in LA, and I have never seen an 8oz wine pour. I have several bartender friends, and I actually texted 2 of them after reading this thread to ask what a standard pour is. One said 4oz and the other said 4-5oz. The one who said 4oz also said "WTF is this person drinking - 2 buck Chuck??" (For those who don't know, 2 Buck Chuck is the affectionate name given to the $3 cheapie Charles Shaw wine from Trader Joes, formally $1.99).

                                                                                      I go to many bars here in LA, and I've been to bars and lounges around the world. I have never been served an 8oz pour. I'd like to know what restaurant or bar you've been to in NY that normally gives you an 8oz pour so I can send all my NY friends there to get a good bang for their buck!

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                        Actually, the Hillstone (Houston's, Bandera, etc.) restaurants in southern CA used to pour wine at 3 glasses per bottle (an 8 oz. glass) and have free corkage. The free corkage is no more (I think it's now $10 per bottle), they still pour a very good glass of wine, but I don't know if it's still 8 oz.

                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                          i worked for a high-end steakhouse that served 8 oz. pours. it was ridiculous, lol.

                                                                                          was part of the opening team and worked non-stop for like 36 days and nights. my first night getting out before midnight, i went to a very nice, high-end italian place across the street for a glass of wine. the pour looked lilliputian!!! i knew my perception was skewed from looking at 1/2 pint pours all those weeks though.

                                                                                          i said to the bartender, "don't take this the wrong way and i am not asking for any more wine, am just curious what size pour this is?" he got so flustered!! THEN, i did think he had shorted me on the pour, lol, AND he poured me more which sealed the deal.

                                                                                          i worked there for a couple of years and was under no illusion that it was anything besides a ridiculous ginormous pour.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            I think that it's really smart for a restaurant to decide what its pour size should be (I like 6 oz.) and then buy small individual carafes sized appropriately. Then, regardless of what wine glass is used and whoever may be the wine pourer (bartender or waiter), the customer knows that he is getting the proper amount. There are a few restaurants in our area that have wonderful wine programs, that always use the appropriate glassware for "by the glass" pours that use individual carafes...and everyone is happy.

                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                              i appreciate the perception offered by carafes, but personally prefer etched glassware. Less stuff to break and no extra inventory to wash/store/order, etc.

                                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                I agree with you completely that etching glasses is a great alternative to carafes for the multiple reasons you state. Indeed, we were just at a local chain Seasons 52 nearby, and they have the restaurant name etched on each glass with the bottom of the 2 being the pour line. Nevertheless, there are a few higher end restaurants that we occasionally frequent with great "by the glass" choices and they use Reidel crystal stemware matching the glass to the wine ordered. They use carafes...probably afraid that etching might weaken the somewhat pricey Reidel crystal. And, I guess...it's a bit more elegant serving wine that way.

                                                                                                But the overarching point is that if restaurants utilize either method, it will help the house control its wine inventory, and the customer should not ever feel cheated.

                                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                  well, assuming that the customer has realistic expectations before entering the place....

                                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                    the carafe has another advantage:
                                                                                                    if you are part of a couple, you might want to split a flight of wines.
                                                                                                    imho: it's much easier to do this if you are working with carafes.
                                                                                                    otoh, there is more labor that goes into serving a carafe (more washing and stocking), so i wouldn't expect that approach to be used for inexpensive wines.

                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                      there is a "restaurant" line of reidel that can safely be etched and doesn't break when you whisper at it. most places use that, if indeed using crystal reidel.

                                                                                          2. To not touch on the OP, since I think everything has been said already...

                                                                                            I find it interesting that so many posters on here don't get buybacks from their bartenders in NYC. I am around 30 years of age, not super wealthy, not super attractive but am reasonably friendly and talk to the bartender (or the person sitting next to me, if i'm flying solo) and I would say I get a buyback of some sort 80% of the time that I'm out for more than two drinks. Sometimes its a free drink, sometimes its a little plate of cheese and bread or a shot or a "here, we just got this and I want to see how you like it."

                                                                                            I honestly don't believe in the supernatural, but I think its karma for being a good tipper and being NICE. Even my first time at a place, I would say I have a 70/30 chance of getting a nice deal if I stay long enough. Granted, I also probably go to more casual places than some mentioned here (See-not wealthy) but my tab almost always comes up on the lighter side. Just a personal anecdote.

                                                                                            1. Well...bartenders do rely on tips....but a good bartender is not someone who gives extra booze away...a good bartender is judged upon attentiveness...effectively making a cocktail, suggesting drinks upon being told what someone likes or whatnot among other things..if she poured the bare minimum then perhaps that is what the establishment suggests is what is the proper pour. Speaking on bare Minimum $1 per drink can be considered the bare minimum as well, besides not tipping. If you felt you were being cheated out you could have asked her nicely what their standard wine glass pour was, instead of being so spot on yourself and "eyeballing to maybe 4.5oz glass pour" that you so easily could spot...perhaps you should be a bartender if you could eyeball that so well lol. You also tried 2 different bottles at probably .5oz each....do you think they would let you sample between 2 different appetizers to allow you to choose between which one you wanted to order? Bottom line is this is a business and and the 2 of you conducted a business transaction that it is customary to tip between 10-20% and $2 tip on $18 for 2 drinks is on the low end. If the owner paid the staff more money and you did not have to tip...well that $9 glass of would have more likely cost you in the $12-15 range per "4.5oz maybe pour".

                                                                                              1. am thinking much of the op has been beaten into the ground, but this:

                                                                                                "Rosés are lifeless and plain"

                                                                                                then a)you are drinking crap rosé and b)if that's your perception, why are you ordering it?

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  Heartily agree with Hotoynoodle, and would add that the OP could put out a little more energy looking for one of the many interesting and lively rosé wines out there.

                                                                                                2. i'm not clear why you feel it's your due to get more than a "to the drop" pour.

                                                                                                  in a new restaurant, i never expect more than what their management policy provides for.

                                                                                                  if i am a regular who consistently tips well, orders well, and brings new people to the restaurant/bar, is always pleasant and patient, that is another story entirely.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                    Agreed. And wine is not like soda - alcohol is a drug. There are plenty of people who do not want more than a standard pour - which allows you to more easily keep track of how much alcohol one has consumed. Even if it were like soda, the bartender has to follow the management regulations, which you don't know about. When I worked food service, if we were secret shopped and didn't put the right level of ice in the soda cup, we were in trouble.

                                                                                                    I do not get angry with the pharmacist for not topping off my bottle of vicodin cough syrup.

                                                                                                    1. re: jw615

                                                                                                      Vicodin cough syrup? {{cough cough}} Can I have your pharmacists info???

                                                                                                  2. *eats popcorn and settles in for what will be an awesome thread*

                                                                                                    No one serves 8oz wine pours.

                                                                                                    Also, many wine-serving establishment pour into HUGE wine glasses. Our riedels hold... wait for it.... A BOTTLE OF WINE. An entire bottle of wine can fit in the glass. I can't even count the number of complaints I've gotten about "short pours" (5 oz). I love the shocked looks when I return to the customer with a full wine bottle of water and pour it fully into one of the glasses. The crumbling look of "well....well..uhhh...." is totally worth it.

                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: carlee134

                                                                                                      if you've read the thread, while they are the exception, some places DO serve 8 oz. pours. however expecting it as a matter of course just means the op doesn't get out much or has no idea how much 8 oz really is.

                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                        And the OP posted this thread in Sept. 2012, responded once or twice, and seems to have left CH, as there are no additional posts from him/her.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          oh, i saw it's been resuscitated. :) cutting the tail off a salamander doesn't kill it.

                                                                                                          but as somebody who has spent my life working in restaurants, am always amused by the opinions of the many who haven't.

                                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                            me too. I guess my "no one" was an exagerration. I didn't even notice the dates on this thread- it was popping up on my "new" on chowhound posts. weird!

                                                                                                      2. re: carlee134

                                                                                                        That's precisely why downthread others have recommended either etching the wine glasses, or using an individual pour sized carafe so that the customer sees that s/he's getting the proper amount.

                                                                                                        ...and yes, there are restaurants that serve an 8 oz. pour.

                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                          If I'm throwing down the cash for a good aged Boone's Farm I sure as heck want all 8 oz.!

                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                            Isn't it ALL aged, since no one's drinking the damn stuff?

                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                              Well while one would hope not, I assure you patches of Boone's Farm resistance still exist. Particularly among the cash-strapped student types. Perhaps we should write a movie script along the lines of World War Z ... World War B.... the Boone's Farm Apocalypse! (I have seen it turn people into zombies....)

                                                                                                        2. The thing is when you order and pay for a drink, you're paying for a specific amount. In most drinks it's 1 oz, with wine more. Now if the pour is under, don't tip. But as a bartender it's very frustrating when a customer is annoyed because I didn't screw myself/the establishment out of product. And the owners probably weren't watching her like a hawk. Because they know her habits. Would you go to a restaurant and not pay the full bill because the cook didn't give you extra? No. If your pour is spot on, you're a well trained bartender.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: deputygeorgie

                                                                                                            Having worked as a bartender part-time half a century ago, I would say that you're spot on...but with one proviso. Perhaps, I was not as accurate a pourer as you, but if I erred, it was always a bit too much rather than too little. We're not talking about giving away "the kitchen sink", but I think most good bartenders do this.

                                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                              I think we all over pour versus under pour just because we don't want to screw the customer. But it isn't drastic. I also would like to add a lot of chain style places only rely on their bartenders personality. Personally, we require all bartenders to use jiggers. I don't but that's a different story. A lot of places also use stop pourers. Pours an ounce and you have to start over.

                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                if each by the glass pour is over just by a bit over an ounce, and i realize that doesn't "look" like much, you're giving away almost a glass out of each bottle. that's 12 lost glasses, or 3 lost bottles, out of each case.

                                                                                                                say the cost is $8/bottle=$96/case. 3 lost bottles is $24. that's a 25% LOSS on your case. not everybody wants to absorb that. nor should they.

                                                                                                                am really amazed how many people think they should get free booze just for showing up.

                                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                  Yeah! It's not a wedding reception! (sorry couldn't help myself after enjoying the long worst wedding reception dinner thread)

                                                                                                            2. The bartender was making the bar extra money by giving you four ounces as opposed to giving you five ounces which is what a standard house pour of wine should be.

                                                                                                              If you get underpoured...you can under tip. Maybe order wine at an establishment that will pour you premium house pours at six ounces in a larger wine glass.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: indyenna

                                                                                                                indyenna: the OP states that s/he was served "the bare minimum" which would imply that s/he was served the amount that the RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT deemed to be the proper size pour.
                                                                                                                to pour any more would be STEALING from the restaurant.
                                                                                                                why would any rational employee STEAL from their employer to benefit a "customer" like the op?
                                                                                                                if, as a customer, you expect the restaurant employees to steal for you in order for you to leave a reasonable tip, something is wrong. certainly you are in the wrong restaurant. maybe go to a place where restaurant policy is to serve rotgut with a heavy hand.
                                                                                                                also, i've never been served really expensive, terrific, wine poured to the top of the glass. only a bartender that didn't know jack about the proper service of fine wine would intentionally screw up the pour like that. no knowledgeable customer would EXPECT actual good wine to be served as an 8 oz pour to the top of the glass.