30 DAY PRIMER: DAY 12 – Expert Tips on Tipping from Tim Cooper


Photo credit | Jenny Adams

Tipping can be slightly difficult to understand, but to ease some confusion towards your monetary leave behind, we reached out to Tim Cooper, Partner and Beverage Director at Sweetwater Social for some expert advice on how to tip properly. 


I obviously work in the industry so I’ve always been a proponent of over tipping; without getting carried away, its a respect factor of appreciating someone who does the same thing as me. My approach has always been to tip in a way that showcases your appreciation towards that bartender/server’s craft and service level. With that said, for the majority of people, I would say to make sure you tip at least 20% (if the service is quality, less if poor), especially if you’re in a bar that’s producing fresh ingredient cocktails that require several steps. There’s a lot of time, care and effort put into making some of these drinks and throwing a dollar down isn’t right in my opinion.

Here are some key points to consider when tipping:

  1. Did the bartender buy you a drink? If so, you should always tip close to what the drink actually cost.
  2. Are you with a large group drinking for a couple hours? If so, definitely make sure to tip 20%. This becomes more of a situation where the bartender spends the bulk of their time taking care of your group in specific. Its a vital to them making money on that shift. 
  3. Are you drinking fresh ingredient cocktails that consist of several steps? These drinks take longer and require more care. Make sure you’re tipping 20%, at least.
  4. Is this your neighborhood bar or a bar that you frequent often? Make sure to tip well. You always want to be well liked in a place you frequent often. And there’s a very good chance that if you go there often and tip well this will turn into the bartenders buying you a round. 
  5. Always keep in mind that 99% of bartenders, servers, barbacks and busboys working make their money pretty much exclusively from tips. Make sure you tip at least 15% minimum (unless the service is rude or lacking). They’re providing a service and serving human beings who have been drinking…it is not easy. It can be absolutely draining. Keep that in mind and if your math skills fail at that particular moment, just make sure to be nice. At the end of the day, we’re like everyone else, we like to feel good about what we’re doing and want to go home on a positive note. 

– Tim Cooper