Boost Your Earnings: How To Make More Tips As A Bartender

how to make more tips as a bartender
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.

I’ve been bartending for over a decade, and let me tell you, it’s not just about mixing drinks and taking home a cheque.

One of the biggest perks of the job? Tips.

We all want to earn a bit more at the end of the night, right? Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tricks that have helped me boost my tips, and I’m here to share them with you.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the game for years, there’s always room to learn.

So, let’s get to it and talk about how to make more tips as a bartender and take home a little extra cash after your shift.

How Do You Get Tips As A Bartender?

When you first step behind the bar, tipping can seem a bit strange at first. But after a while, you start to see the patterns.

Most of us are familiar with the good old tip jar. It sits right there on the counter, sometimes with a funny or clever sign, acting as a magnet for spare change and bills.

It’s the most visible and direct way customers show their appreciation.

They enjoyed their drink, had a good chat, or just felt generous, and in goes their tip.

But in today’s increasingly cashless society, a lot of the tipping action happens when customers settle their bills. With the swipe of a card, they can add a little extra for the bartender.

It’s a seamless process, and for many bartenders, this is where the bulk of their tips come from.

how to earn more tips as a bartender
Photo by Dan Smedley

There’s something about that moment when you hand back the card and receipt, and you catch that glimpse of the tip amount they’ve added. It’s a small validation of your hard work.

Then there are those special moments, often unexpected when a customer hands you a tip directly. It’s more personal this way.

They look you in the eye, thank you for the service, and hand over their appreciation in tangible form.

Of course, not every bar operates on the “you keep what you earn” principle. Some places pool tips, dividing the night’s earnings among the staff. It’s a system that has its pros and cons.

On one hand, it promotes teamwork and ensures everyone gets a piece of the pie. On the other, if you’re really hustling and giving top-notch service, you might feel like you’re not getting your full due.

But regardless of how the tips come in, the real question is how to make sure they keep flowing.

👉 The BEST online bartending course: ABarAbove Mixology Masterclass

What Is The Average Tip For A Bartender?

Here in the U.S., bartenders typically receive tips ranging from 15-20% of the total bill.

Check out our bartender tip calculator below;

Bartender Tip Calculator

Recommended Tip

Total Bill

For simpler drinks or at dive bars, it’s common to see $1 or $2 per drink, while upscale establishments often stick to the percentage rule, resulting in larger tips per cocktail.

The location matters too, with bigger cities or tourist areas often seeing more generous tips compared to smaller towns.

However, it’s essential to note that tipping customs vary globally, with some countries having a lower tipping rate or none at all for bartenders.

While these are general guidelines, actual earnings can fluctuate daily based on various factors, including service quality and customer demographics.

How to Make More Tips As A Bartender

Earning more tips as a bartender is as much about people skills as it is about mixing drinks.

Any old bartender can make drinks from a menu, but it’s those who go above and beyond with exceptional service that make the most money in tips.

Boosting your tips often boils down to the rapport you build and the atmosphere you cultivate.

So let’s explore some of the most effective ways to make that tip jar overflow.

1. Greet Punters

First impressions are crucial in any service industry role, and bartending is no exception. A warm, genuine greeting not only sets the tone but also makes patrons feel welcome.

When people feel acknowledged and valued from the moment they walk in, they’re more likely to stick around, order another drink, and yes, tip you better.

A simple “how’s your evening?” can go an incredibly long way in the bartending world. It’s a simple gesture that can kickstart a rewarding relationship for both parties.

2. Read The Room

Every night brings a different crowd with its own collective mood. Some folks are out to celebrate, some want to relax, and others might be looking to forget a tough day.

Being able to read the room and adjust your service style accordingly is a skill that patrons appreciate.

live music in a busy bar
Photo by Hari Nandakumar

It shows you’re attentive and adaptable, qualities that can positively influence the tips you receive.

3. Connect & Engage

Sure, speed is important, especially during busy hours, but never underestimate the power of a good conversation.

Female bartenders are EXCELLENT at connecting with customers and often find that they earn more tips than their male counterparts.

Asking about a customer’s day, sharing a light joke, or simply listening can turn a one-time visitor into a regular.

And let’s be honest, regulars are the bread and butter of any bar, often tipping more generously because they feel a personal connection.

Learn to connect with your patrons on a deeper level, especially your regulars. They will reward you for it.

4. Make Recommendations

Not everyone who walks into a bar knows exactly what they want to drink. This is where your expertise comes in.

Offering thoughtful suggestions based on their preferences can introduce patrons to something new and delightful.

It’s a win-win: they discover a new favorite, and you get a tip that reflects their appreciation for your knowledge and attention to detail.

5. Go The Extra Mile

It’s often the little things that make a big difference. Whether it’s remembering someone’s usual order or adding an extra flourish to a cocktail, these small gestures show you care.

And when customers feel like you’re invested in making their experience special, they’re more likely to show their gratitude through tipping.

Go the extra mile for customers. If you run out of ice, go down to the cellar and refill before serving your customers their drink.

It’s all about the small details as these make the biggest difference when it comes to earning more tips.

6. Positive Attitude

Let’s face it, the bar is often a refuge for people looking to unwind and escape the stresses of daily life.

Maintaining a positive attitude, even when you’re slammed with orders or dealing with difficult patrons, can elevate the entire atmosphere.

Your good vibes can be infectious, encouraging customers to relax, enjoy themselves, and ultimately, tip more generously.

Nobody wants to speak with a miserable bartender, so leave everything at the door before starting your shift and keep your attitude positive throughout.

7. Create An Amazing Environment

The ambiance of a bar is more than just background; it’s a crucial part of the experience.

Keeping your workspace clean, selecting music that enhances the mood, and managing lighting to create the right vibe can make a significant impact.

bartender pouring a shot into a glass
Photo by Louis Hansel

When people enjoy the environment, they’re more likely to stay longer, order more, and tip in a way that reflects their overall satisfaction.

>> Read more: 19 GAME-CHANGING Tips For Bartenders (Old & New)

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, bartending isn’t just about drinks—it’s about people.

Sure, the type of bar matters, but it’s really your approach, attitude, and the connections you make that’ll fill that tip jar.

Be genuine, be attentive, and always aim to give patrons a reason to come back.

Every good interaction can lead to a better tip. So, keep pouring, keep chatting, and keep smiling.

I hope these seven tips help you as much as they have helped me when it comes to earning tips. If you practice and implement each one, you’re sure to be ending your night with more $$$.

See you in the next one!

Get Certified🍸

Take your mixology game to the next level! With this advanced mixology course, you’ll learn not just to follow recipes, but to create them.

HD Videos

Cheat Sheets

Earn Your Certificate