Do You Tip for Drinks at Restaurants - and How Much?

Written by Jim Belt in How Much To Tip

As you go for a drink in a jam-packed bar or restaurant where people easily go in and out, servers like bartenders won’t remember every customer during their shift. You may consider giving a tip to receive preferential treatment. This article will feature the customary amount of tipping and how bartenders perceive this type of modus operandi.

There are two ways to tip on drinks at a restaurant. The first one is tipping per drink or bottle, which is typically between $1 and $3. This option is good for solo drinkers or those who want to keep their drinks in moderation. The second one is tipping per tab, which costs 15% to 20% of the total bill. The larger the bill, the harder it is to keep track of the total number of bottles you and your company had during the party.

A summarized table below will serve as your guide when tipping a concierge. This is based on backed up research and testimonials of travelers posted online.

Need not to worry! This article will discuss the do’s and don'ts of tipping bartenders as they themselves admit that this service industry follows certain rules and what they do for their customers. If you’re confused or not used to this, read more and learn!

Tipping Customs

Tippping is customary $ 1 - $ 3

Before we go over the intricate details, in this section, I have compiled a summary of the two ways to tip on drinks at the restaurant mentioned above.

Tipping per drink or bottle

Rules Average
$1 per 1 drink (alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks) $1.00
Per beer $1.00
Peer cocktail $2.00
Mixologist level 2.00-$3.00
Per cost of bottle 5%

Tipping per tab

Rules Average Percentage
Per smaller tab 15%
Per larger tab 20%
Poor service 15%

Why should you tip on drinks at restaurants?

Customers are entitled to standard service, and for some, tipping is mandatory, as this is the easiest way to show appreciation. Your drinks and how they are served to you can have a significant impact on your mood during a celebration, hangout, or party!

Here are some of the reasons why customers are generous when tipping:

They received a quality service and had a great time:

Most customers when they have a smooth evening in restaurants or bars do so because they did not have to keep reminding the workers about their orders, they don’t have to complain about what’s lacking in the amenities, or even have to switch drinks because what they wanted wasn’t available.

They received a free drink or two:

Most bartenders do this to warm up your evening. If they provide this to you, you might as well be sure that they are already expecting a tip from you.

Your drinks cost less than the restaurant average e.g. using a coupon:

Even in other service industries, people based their tip on the original price on the menu.

Your drink requires more time to make:

Making a drink requires different methods. For example, to muddle a Mojito, the Old Fashioned, or the Caipirinha, there is a process of "smushing" fruits, herbs, or sugar into a cocktail to infuse their flavors. The process itself takes a lot of ingredients to make and time to put them all together.

When should you tip and tip more?

Tipping is never mandatory but for most people, only those who deserve the gratuity will receive it and some unexpectedly receive more. In tipping drinks at a restaurant, there are instances where customers receive a generous service and they are accommodated properly all the way through their evening.

Below are some of the some of the factors that customers consider when tipping more than the average to the restaurant workers:

They received a VIP treatment:

For a customer to say that they received VIP treatment, they must first experience an elevated level of comfort. Were they offered a table or a room easily? Do they have to wait for their drinks for a long period of time? These factors themselves will affect their whole experience.

Special Requests:

There are times when the bartender can accommodate personalized or special requests for the drinks. If they favor you, you may even get something that is not on the menu. If you are able to ask for a favor that they don’t usually offer, it’s recommended that you give a generous tip to show appreciation for their providing your special requests.

The workers extended their working hours for you:

When drinking, you could get into tortuous situations. Picture yourself spilling a drink or getting wasted in a restaurant alone before the closing hours. As part of their customer service, the workers may get into a situation where they have to clean and care for you.

There are more unique situations that workers go through on a daily basis. You could just imagine how much time and effort they give to satisfy the needs and requests of every person getting in the restaurant. Occasionally, they may even do more than what is in their job scope.

When should you not tip on drinks at a restaurant?

Most restaurants, especially outside America, consider tipping as an insult. They consider tipping as a sign of a dysfunctional economy as these workers depend on tips to reach the minimum wage. Before going to a restaurant or before you start computing for a tip, it is best to ask the person serving you your drinks to avoid being in an uncomfortable situation. They will most likely appreciate the gesture of offering a tip. Moreover, in the United States, you can expect that everyone in the customer service industry is used to the culture of tipping.


When drinking in restaurants, there are several circumstances that are beyond our control. Making our bartenders and staff aware of how much we value their excellent service is the best thing we can do as customers. The most effective method to express gratitude in the middle of a hectic evening is to hand over some cash and say "thank you." On the next day, you could tell your friends about how your evening went and recommend the said restaurant. Being an irate customer will be much less effective than communicating your concerns and having them appropriately addressed. For simpler transactions, it's ideal to use the methods of tipping per drink and tipping per tab if you go out alone or with a group. A little grace in addressing awkward and uncomfortable situations will go a long way if you went to the restaurant to have fun.

Published: 17-10-2022