*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in The Weekly Dig.
We’ve barely broached the topic of tipping. Gratuity is a confusing issue, and we’d like to address the view from the other side of the bar.
The lore of tipping a dollar a drink
Once upon a time, a cocktail was sour mix and spirits and set you back $5. In those days, $1 per drink was a fair tip. But tipping 15 percent on your dinner is no longer enough, nor is tipping a buck for a $10 drink.
“If I open a $3 Bud for you, I don’t expect more than a dollar,” says Hanky Panky, a bartendrix at Drink. “When you tip me $1 on an $11 drink, that’s less than 10 percent.”
“Know how to figure it quickly and easily,” says Pinky Gonzales. “Ten percent of a $12 drink is 1.20, therefore, x 2 = $2.40 to make 20 percent. You can also make it easy on yourself and a little generous for the bartender and round up.”
“My general rule is $1 a drink or 20 percent, whichever is higher,” says Bourbon Belle. That’s easy to remember, no matter how many drinks you’ve had.
Anyone can pop open a brewsky, but bartending at a craft cocktail mecca is a different animal. Bartenders at the city’s finest watering holes spend days—even months—developing tinctures, bitters, syrups and shrubs for the perfect cocktail, or hand-carving a special ice formation to chill your Old Fashioned without watering it down. This extra love deserves a little extra love. And nothing says “I love you” like cash.
If you roll into the bar at last call and order seven Blue Blazers, put yourself in your barman’s/barmaid’s shoes: You’re just about to log off your computer and go home when the boss rolls over to your desk. Remember that as your bartender tosses flaming hot whiskey between two mugs at 1:45am. Reward your server as you wish your boss would: with thanks. And cash.
If your bartender gives you something for free, a few bucks more than 20 percent is a small way to say thanks, and a small price to pay for the VIP treatment you’ve just received.
Bartending is a demanding job and pays about $6 an hour. Bartenders work long hours—12-14 hour days are commonplace—and the bulk of their salary depends entirely upon tips, which means it depends entirely on you. So tip generously and tip often.
TIP TOP PUNCH
1.5 oz brandy
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.25 tsp sugar
0.5 oz Benedictine
Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and then strain over new ice in a tall glass. Top with champagne.