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Does a Buck a Drink Still Work for a Bartender's Tip?

From Frank Bruni of The New York Times: I don’t know where precisely our most universally accepted tipping rules come from.

But the dollar-per-drink dictum is one that, it seems, everyone’s been schooled in.

When people are at the bar, they don’t do the kind of math performed at the table, where they figure out what 15 percent is and what 20 percent is and where between those bookends they’d like their tip to fall. They just count up their drinks, and then count out the equivalent number of dollars.

Has that become insufficient? Has inflation passed it by?

In a blog post on Sunday, a Seattle bartender raised those questions, asserting that “tipping based on percentage is more appropriate, especially since drinks can be in the double digits. It’s always best for a bartender to make about twenty percent of their sales from that day off tips. So, if you have a martini that’s thirteen dollars, tipping at least two or three is ideal.”

Those of us at the Dining section were, um, tipped off to that post by its mention on the web site Down by the Hipster, which invited its readers to vote on what they thought was the appropriate tipping behavior for bar service. Readers could answer $1 a drink; 20 percent of the total bill; tips based purely on service; or “what’s a tip—get a real job!”

When I checked the results around 8:45 this morning, 66 percent of the votes were for $1 a drink, while 21 percent were for a “tip based on service” and just 11 percent of the roughly 280 respondents had chosen a tip of 20 percent of the bill.

Now: the “tip based on service” respondents may well be 20-percenters in all but the most disappointing of circumstances. Then again, they could be $1-a-drinkers who are reserving the right to go even lower than that. Impossible to know. And “tip based on service” is really what everyone does in the end.

I’m certainly not the authority on proper tipping, so I’m not going to tell you which guideline to use or what specifically to do. FULL ARTICLE

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