How to Tip a Private Bartender, From Event Bartending Specialists

Before, we discussed some of the factors that go into professional bartending service pricing. The type and duration of the event, the number of guests, and the drink menus themselves all go into determining the costs associated with hiring a professional bartender (and his or her assistants).

What about tipping, especially at open bar events? Not all bartending services are the same, and each has its own policies about tipping at the events it works. Here is some information about tipping policies to help you understand more about the professional bartending industry and its experts.

The Tip Jar

Tipping sometimes depends on the event itself, not the bartending service that is handling the event. For certain gatherings, tipping may not be allowed. The lack of tip jars can create a loss of income situation for professional bartenders, and they may charge a higher hourly rate or other fee structure to recoup those losses.

Again, some of the rates will depend on the number of guests, the bartending company’s own policies, and the type of the event itself. Be sure to understand the bartender’s own tipping policies up front so as not to cause confusion and misunderstanding.

Open Bar Tipping

In bars and nightclubs, it is traditional to offer the bartending staff tips as a reward for great service. There’s no reason the same cannot apply for open bar events, whether those events are weddings, showers, corporate gatherings, or simple backyard parties.

As with any tipping arrangement, some of the guests will tip, and others will not. Open bar events sometimes bring out the worst in people; many see these arrangements as “free booze”, and will not even consider tipping. Others, of course, have better manners. As with any bartending interaction, offering a small tip is a courtesy that goes a long way toward building goodwill between bartending staff and event guests.

In order to ensure that the professional bartending staff is adequately compensated for their work, it is often the practice of event hosts to add a 15 to 20% gratuity to the bill for service as a tip. Not every bartending service is the same, so it is critical to ask before the event whether company policies will allow such tipping arrangements.

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