Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nobody Likes a Mr. Pink

Andy (of Seven Saints) sent me an email with his views on tipping. It's a good read.

There's no way to get around it, craft beer drinkers...your bartender expects you to tip 15-20% on the low end, 18-25% on the high(er) end...at all times. Industry folk generally tip even more than this, but we don't necessarily expect the "Earth people" to follow suit. Customers from all walks of life maintain this standard, and so should you.

Gratuity should always be based on sales, as servers and bartenders are taxed in part according to their tippable sales. Your bartender is taking an initial hit to serve you that $14.00 beer, and he expects you to make it up to him with a primo tip. I've also been told that bartenders generally prefer cash to credit card tips for (ahem) certain tax reasons.

The central point is this: the craft beer industry has risen to the occasion by offering the consumer a superior product to that of their competitors. Craft products are luxury items that cost the consumer more, but we support these efforts because we root for the little guy and love the brews that these efforts have produced. It's a pay-to-play pastime in which we shouldn't forget the guy behind the bar. After all, a rising tide lifts all ships. Frankly, tips should rise accordingly to encourage quality bartenders to enter into the craft beer field, as they are on the front lines of an increasingly competitive industry. Look at them as your craft beer ambassadors!

As far as the effort-to-tip ratio...don't try to stick it to the man by sticking it to your bartender. Bartenders get paid $4.65 per hour...they pay their rent based off of your tips. Quality beer bars should employ quality bartenders, and if you don't think the service being provided is worth an extra few bucks, then it's time to pick up your pen and write a letter to the owner. Bartenders should be able to tell you what's new on the beer list and a few details about each brew, but don't expect them to read you a novel about each new brew. It's tough to keep current on your info and keep up a well-run bar at the same time. I expect my bartender to always give a clean glass in roughly appropriate glassware. I expect him to know what is seasonal, as well as which stinky keg may have been sitting around for a while. I expect him to serve me as quickly as possible (keep in mind that he's probably multi-tasking, so be patient). I expect him to remember my drink of choice before he remembers my name, but either is a bonus to me.

The only reason I will ever tip a bartender poorly is if he is blatantly rude. I mean discourteous. Salty. Mean. He may be hurried, stressed, and short with me; these are all ok depending on how busy the bar is at the time. However, at the end of the day he's there to make my experience a pleasurable one and lack of basic manners will always be a barrier between my wallet and his. If you have an exchange that leaves you offended or angry, leave what you feel is a minimum and, once again, take it up with the owner.


So there you have it, 15-25% when you are out on the town.

1 comment:

J said...

By this time on Saturday, I will have racked up 10 or more beers at the Brickskeller.

Envy me.