Behind The Bar: Do Barbacks Get Tips?

do barbacks get tips
Joe | Last Updated: November 24, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

Workers within the hospitality industry are known for receiving tips, especially those that deliver exceptional service and go beyond the patron’s expectations.

Bartenders are known to make good money in tips, especially in countries where tipping is customary such as the United States and Canada.

But what about the unsung heroes who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the bar running smoothly?

Barbacks are the backbone of any thriving bar, working closely with the bartenders to ensure the bar is stocked, clean, and ready to serve customers as swiftly as possible.

Do barbacks get tips for their hard work and dedication? It’s an interesting topic and one that we’re going to explore today, from whether barbacks receive tips at all to how much they might make and everything in between.

So if you’ve ever been curious about the role of a barback and how much they make, keep reading to find out more.

Do Barbacks Get Tips?

Yes, in most establishments barbacks are paid hourly plus tips as part of their compensation, but it’s important to note that tipping policies can vary widely depending on a number of factors.

Geographical location, the establishment, and the responsibilities of the barback all play a role in whether or not they’ll receive tips, as some roles can be more demanding than others.

If becoming a barback is something you’re interested in, it’s wise for you to check the establishments tipping policy beforehand to ensure you’re not left surprised when payday arrives.

do barbacks get tips
Image by Nan Palmero

In addition to receiving tips, barbacks will often be paid an average hourly wage of $12.65, but this can also vary depending on the establishment and its location, as well as the barback’s experience.

Whilst barbacks don’t receive tips directly from customers as they are working behind the scenes, it’s common for them to receive a share of the total tips earned, which can mean they earn more than non-tipped positions.

How Do Barbacks Get Tipped?

There are a number of ways that barbacks can receive tips depending on the establishment’s tipping policy, but here are the most common methods.

Shared tips

The most common way for barbacks to receive tips is by receiving a share of the bartender’s tips, which is called a “tip out.

Oftentimes the tip-out percentage is 1 – 3% of total sales or between 10 – 20% of total tips, but this can vary depending on the bartender and their agreement with the barback.

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Some bartenders will provide a larger tip percentage to barbacks but others may not be so generous.

It’s a way for bartenders to show their appreciation towards the barback and to ensure that they receive compensation for their hard work and make the bartender’s shift run smoothly.

Direct tips

It’s VERY rare for barbacks to receive direct tips from customers, but it does happen in some cases where a customer recognizes how hard the barback is working to keep the bar running.

An example of this would be when a customer directly tips a barback for restocking their favorite drink even whilst the bar is busy.

Direct tips are usually given in cash, but they’re rare and this isn’t a reliable way for barbacks to receive tips.

Tip pooling

In some establishments, all tips received are pooled together in a “tip jar” and distributed among staff through a tip pooling system.

This can include bartenders, servers, and barbacks, with each member of staff receiving a percentage of the total tips received.

The percentage is determined by the establishment tipping policy or is negotiated among the staff to ensure all workers receive a fair amount for their hard work.

Do Barbacks Make Good Tips?

The amount of money a barback makes through tips is going to depend largely on the establishment they work in and its tipping policy.

In many cases, barbacks receive a share of tips that are made through the bartender, often between 10 – 20% of the bartender’s tips will go to the barback.

Therefore, the amount of tips a barback makes will rely on how much the bartender makes in tips, the more the bartender makes, the more the barback makes.

do barbacks get tips
Image by eric wittman

It’s also important to note that the establishment plays a big role in how much tips can be earned, with busy up-town establishments often attracting customers who are more likely to tip.

According to Bars and Bartending, if a busy bartender makes between $200 – $300 in tips, the barbacks payout could be between $10 – $60 depending on their agreement.

Naturally, barbacks don’t make as much in tips as bartenders as they are not customer-facing staff, but they do receive a share of total tips earned which can vary wildly depending on the establishment’s tipping policy.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, YES, barbacks do receive tips, although it often comes from a percentage split from the bartender’s earnings or from a tip pooling system.

The amount of tips a barback makes will depend on the establishment as well as how successful the bartender is at earning tips.

The more the bartender earns, the more the barback earns. This is also impacted by how efficient the barback is at keeping the bar fully stocked and assisting the bartender.

If the barback can keep stock replenished and ensure the bartender is able to serve customers efficiently, they will both make more in tips.

It’s a partnership that works exceptionally well in some establishments and allows both the bartender and barback to earn great tips.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about barbacks in this post and I hope you now have a better understanding of how barbacks receive tips and their earning potential.

Catch you in the next one.

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