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Quick Ice-Water from the Bar -- Tip?

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I often accompany my dad and his wife to nice restaurants -- they are near 80 and she moves particularly slowly. I am also treated to good places by my mom and her companion. Last week I waited for my niece at the bar.

Upon entering, I often beeline to the bar and ask for "your largest glass, filled with ice and then water." I then follow my dining hosts to the table.

Do I need to tip the bartenders?

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      1. Yes. I tip a dollar for a free glass of water.

        1. Yes, and a dollar is what I tip as well.

          1. The person performed the same service for you if it had been a $5/6/7/8 mixed drink and you wouldn't question if you had y leave a tip then, correct? So yes it's the service and hospitality industry, they performed a service they should get something.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jrvedivici

              Good point--and then what the OP is getting is still a whole hell of a lot cheaper to them than a mixed drink with tip for the same effort by the server as a cocktail.

            2. Absolutely....a couple of dollars.

              1. I don't know if I ever went up to a bar to ask for a glass of water but if I did it would never occur to me to tip the bartender for it. I'm really surprised at all the "yes" answers!

                23 Replies
                1. re: Jpan99

                  Why wouldn't you? It's as much work as getting someone a beer.

                  1. re: donovt

                    <Why wouldn't you?>

                    Believe it or not, there are pockets of population, in this world where the waitperson actually enjoys giving without receiving anything in return.
                    They not only enjoy it but will insist on the person not tipping or paying. It can be viewed as disrespectful.

                    1. re: latindancer

                      Clearly, if tipping was not a custom where one lives, they wouldn't even be involved in this conversation.

                      1. re: donovt

                        <tipping was not a custom>

                        Of course tipping is a custom where they live and where they work. Everyone who works in a restaurant deserves/expects a tip. It's not what this thread is about.

                        This thread is about a glass of water with ice. The OP is asking if it's an absolute to 'tip the bartender' for the glass of ice with water.
                        I would, in most cases, but in lots of places I've visited where the mannerisms and hospitality is MUCH different than what I'm used to, I use my intuition whether or not a tip for that glass of water is going to disrespect their simple act of generosity.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          Sorry, I took it to mean you were referring to many European countries where tipping isn't customary.

                      2. re: latindancer

                        "Believe it or not, there are pockets of population, in this world where the waitperson actually enjoys giving without receiving anything in return.
                        They not only enjoy it but will insist on the person not tipping or paying. It can be viewed as disrespectful."

                        Are these "pockets" of people actual wait staff working for a living? Because I seriously doubt any bartender or wait person, who by the way is being paid below minimum wage, really wants to hand out drinks all day without being tipped. It's part of their job and they work for tips.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          This thread is about a glass of water, given out by a wage earning waitperson, to a customer who's thirsty.

                          The people I'm talking about live in a small town where giving out a glass of water to this person is their pleasure, their way of being hospitable.
                          A dollar bill given to that person would be taken as a dismissive gesture of their mannerisms.

                          1. re: latindancer

                            If it's at all relevant to the discussion, let me say I tip *big*.

                            Unless the service is absolutely terrible, it's my belief everyone's entitled to make a living and when the service is great I'm paying for it.
                            That being said I've attempted to tip, on many occasions, and had the receiver tell me to please put my money away.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              I think the issue is in how you phrased your answer, not your intent. Many years ago I was visiting a part of the world where tipping was not common. I had a very nice taxi driver, and I gave her a small tip. She asked if I would need a cab the next morning as the hotel I was staying at was on her way home and she often tried to catch a fare from there.

                              Not only was she there waiting, she had the bellhop call my room to tell me she was ready whenever I was but not to hurry. When I got into the cab she had a cup of coffee for me as well as a pastry because she knew I would not have time to get anything to eat that morning. She also discounted my fare because she had to drive most of that distance to get home. In appreciation I gave her a nice, but not outrageous, tip. She was mortified. She was trying to do this nice thing for me, save me some money, and I was throwing it back at her. Clearly I didn't appreciate what she was doing for me in her mind.

                              I explained how much trouble and time she had saved me, that I really appreciated all she had done, and I was sharing my good fortune with her. I finally agreed to take half my tip back and I think we were both relatively pleased with the exchange.

                              As for the OP, no it is not an absolute, and the bartender can always refuse to accept the tip, but it's always nice to be generous when you are able. One of those 'never wrong, and usually right' things to do.

                            2. re: latindancer

                              Got it. Did not understand that from your response. Thanks.

                          2. re: latindancer

                            "Believe it or not, there are pockets of population, in this world where the waitperson actually enjoys giving without receiving anything in return."

                            Where I lose you is in assuming that if someone tips it's because the they think the waitperson doesn't enjoy giving without receiving something in return.

                            I dont know of any part of the US where it's actually rude to tip someone at a restaurant for giving you a glass of water.

                            Even if you found someone who would actually be offended at such an act, you'd probably find 100 people in that same area who would be appreciative of the gesture, regardless of whether they feel it was earned or even accepted the tip.

                            So my point is, just because someone is happy without receiving a tip doesn't mean you shouldn't offer one.

                            1. re: calumin

                              <I don't know of any part of the US where it's actually rude to tip someone>

                              It's not a *rule* that people shouldn't tip in the areas I'm talking about.
                              These are very small, rural towns where mannerisms are very different than where I live. It's definitely a culture shock, having come from where I live where I carry around $100, at all times in change, just for tips, alone & wouldn't ever think about *not* tipping *anyone* who performs the smallest gesture of kindness and assistance. It's expected where I live.
                              If you haven't experienced it then it's difficult to explain it. So much of it, without going into detail, has much to do with religion and culture. There are people, in these towns, who actually go out of their way to make a person feel welcome and wants *NOTHING* in return. They *are* offended if someone doesn't take the gesture as something that's important for them to do....*without* an acknowledgment or tip.
                              A glass of water with ice? Given with kindness, generosity and deep appreciation for the talk about the weather & the beauty of the land, given alongside it.

                              1. re: latindancer

                                I have family from the rural south and I can understand completely where you are coming from. However I fail to find any evidence of this being the case based on the OP's description of what's going on. They indicate they often accompany "nice restaurants" which serve alcohol and have a bartender on staff.

                                They make a "beeline" for the bar....so it's not random there are no random beelines so they are going to the bar with the intention of ordering something. They give a specific order.....not just ask for a class of water, give me "your biggest glass filed with ice and then water". They then follow their hosts to the table where he will most likely be given water in a matter of minutes.

                                While I understand your point, there is nothing in the OP that suggests they were in such an environment. I think a small token/tip of appreciation for the service is certainly warranted.

                                Just my $.02

                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                  Thank you.

                                  I initially responded to the question posed by a poster who asked "why wouldn't you?". I simply gave an example of where I wouldn't. In those areas, as with your family, the idea of *not* tipping for the reasons I gave are an abstraction in the minds of people who haven't experienced it. I find it extremely endearing, especially because of where I live.
                                  You're absolutely right...in the case of the OP it's definitely warranted and a tip is the proper thing to do.

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    OK I think I misunderstood your first post. You were saying there that someone wouldn't tip because some people enjoy giving without receiving anything in return.

                                    I don't think that's a good reason not to tip, because that can apply to many people outside the areas you're describing & I think people should tip without having to think through whether the barman is expecting it.

                                    What you're saying is that in some areas where you've been, tipping connotes some other kind of social signal. Maybe a level of distance & lack of community? Either way I get it now but the first post wasn't clear to me.

                          3. re: donovt

                            Because it's free water. If I had dinner and only drank water with my meal I wouldn't add extra tip as if I had ordered beer or wine. Do you think the bartender would be offended that someone didn't leave 2 bucks for a free glass of water? Especially if they are then going to sit at a table for dinner?

                            1. re: Jpan99

                              Of course they wouldn't be offended. If you tip just as to not offend, that's your business. You would be tipping for the work, not the cost of the water, so the fact that its free should have no bearing.

                              1. re: donovt

                                If you tip for the work and not the cost then one would have to assume that you tip the same dollar amount whether you order a burger and coke or a porterhouse steak and a bottle of wine. I'm sure you don't, because we tip a percentage on value, not on how much work it took to haul the food out of the kitchen.

                                1. re: Jpan99

                                  That's silly. We're talking about getting something to drink at the bar, not what your waitress brought you. I would tip more for a mixed drink than I would a beer because of the work involved.

                            2. re: donovt

                              Would you tip the bartender if you ask him for change of a twenty dollar bill on the way out of a restaurant so that you can tip the valet? I wouldn't dream of doing so, and it's at least as much effort as filling a glass with water. I'm a pretty generous tipper (20-25% all the time), and it's never even occurred to me to tip a bartender for a glass of water (which I occasionally do so that I can take a pill while waiting for a table).

                              1. re: josephnl

                                No. If they give you change they are doing you a favor. By giving you a glass of water they are performing a task that is part of their job. It is customary to tip a bartender for performing that job.

                                1. re: donovt

                                  I respectfully disagree. Making change for me so that I can tip the valet is not doing me a favor...it's part of the job so that valets can get their tip. Also, if I am not sitting at the bar and ask for a glass of water so that I can take a pill, I cannot imagine any bartender expecting a tip for that. (BTW, I've been a bartender!)

                            3. re: Jpan99

                              In the town where I live everything and everyone is tipped for doing even the smallest of gestures...it's expected and I've just become accustomed to it.

                              In some small towns where I travel to work it's something I don't do. I'd come across as rude, disrespectful and oftentimes pretentious.

                              It really depends.

                            4. I would throw down a buck in the situation you are describing. Most bars I go to give a glass of water as a matter or course, and I don't factor that into the tip when I pay my tab.

                              1. Of course, if you wanted to avoid this quandry you could just walk in with your hosts, no matter how slowly they walked, and get water at the table.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  That was my reaction as well. If you can't wait ten minutes for a drink of water, then tip the bartender or bring your own.

                                  1. I tip for the service involved - but then I usually ask for ice water with a lemon and a straw. I spend many Sunday afternoons at a 3 hour blues jam at a local bar, and tend to go through alot of water. I make sure to leave a few dollars on my way out.

                                    1. My qualification to answer: I'm a bartender.

                                      I never expect a tip on ice water. It's free, takes only a couple of seconds, and doesn't exactly test my abilities as a skilled maker of libations.

                                      That said, I do appreciate it when someone drops a buck or two my way. I do put up a bit of a fuss because you're giving me something for a lagniappe, but I don't complain *that* much.

                                      All this goes out the window if a cocktail server is involved; since they have to go get the water, and it took up space on a cocktail tray where a paid drink could have been, they get a buck or two.

                                      1. I tend bar at a dance club which means there is a small window of opportunity for sales. Additionally many clubs direct their bar staff to require the guest to buy bottled water. My venue allows water from the tap. i use the faucets for the sink as water from the gun is very slow. This speedy service is sometimes rewarded. Needless to say those who offer gratuities for water are served first for future requests. Most guests know this. In a dance club I think that tipping for tap water is usually the right thing to do unless the bartender serves it with deliberate sloth.