Tips are the monetary bonus you get for putting in the effort to prepare a perfectly blended cocktail or for mixing a drink just how the client likes it. Tips are a sign of a customer's appreciation of your professionalism, and if you do your job right, you definitely deserve them.
It is not a general requirement to tip bartenders and they are often forgotten about, so, hearing the ching ching of coins dropping into a tip bucket is satisfying. It's always nice to be appreciated. The extra cash is great, especially when you get it nightly, it makes getting through to payday a whole lot easier. But no one said tips are easy to come by, and they're not. Tips are something you have to work hard to get. You might have put a forced grin on your face or blabbered away with a customer for an hour just to get that little bit of cash left over when the bill was paid. Fair play for trying!
The thing with tips is that receiving them can be pretty unpredictable and never guaranteed, so what are the average tips a bartender working in the UK can expect? Think less rather than more and here's why.
Where, What & Who?
How much you receive in tips when working as a bartender in the UK depends on several very crucial factors. If you're thinking bartending is bartending wherever you are, well think again. There's a great divide between city, town and rural establishments and an even bigger divide between the type of premises you might find yourself working in. Whether it's a cocktail bar, a restaurant bar, nightclub or traditional pub, believe it, that divide is wider than the Grand Canyon!
Chain bars and restaurants have different rules about which of their staff get the gratuities and even if do your job above and beyond the required professional standard, you may never see your dedication monetised. Don't feel singled out. This applies to kitchen staff too as it's often only the floor staff who get the tips. If you're about to take up a position in any large hospitality premises, be sure to ask about their policy on splitting the service charges and tips, who gets a percentage and who doesn't before you start. It saves getting a nasty surprise after you've put in a few shifts.
Regular Trade Off
If you land a job in a rural location at a traditional pub, you'll have regular customers who you'll get to know by name. It's a sad but true fact; regulars rarely tip unless it's a special occasion like Christmas when they're infused with the festive spirit. It doesn't mean they don't appreciate the service you're providing, it's just the way it is. They may well offer to buy a drink which, if you have a good landlord who permits it, can be converted into cash by putting the price of the drink or an agreed equivalent set amount, into the tip jar. If not, you can save the purchased drinks up and enjoy them on your night off.
The Card Crunch
Tipping in bars and nightclubs in the UK has been hit hard by the practice of people paying for everything by card. Customers who use contactless cards are even less likely to add a tip especially when they're paying for one drink at a time while ordering their drink amid a crush of people waiting at the bar to be served.
The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly
Believe it, these guys exist. Yes, the worst kinds of boss - the ones who keep the staff tips. The bad one will smile happily every time they throw coinage in the tip jar, promise to tally the tips up when they've accumulated and split them fairly. But as if by magic, when the jar is full, they'll disappear overnight never to be seen again. The downright ugly one will not even separate the tips, they'll stash them in the till. The only remedy for that kind of guy is to quietly ask the customer not to leave a tip because you won't receive it. The boss may even have the face to ask why the tips are down, in which case you just smile sweetly and reply – I’ve no idea.
What Makes You Tip?
If you do get a job where you'll be getting your fair share of the tips and want to milk it to the max, ask yourself this one simple question – what makes you tip? Deduce the answer, apply it to your work, and you'll soon be quids in.
The Average Bartender Tips In The UK?
The average bartender tips in the UK can be zilch. You're not going to get rich but look on the bright side. You'll have a great time, meet other bartenders from all over the world doing the same as you're doing and have some seriously fun working experience. Who needs tips? Wages in the UK are pretty decent anyway.
If you're in London, know your mixology and have a position in one of the top hotels or clubs, you could be earning £11 to £15 an hour and be pulling in £50 to £100 in tips every shift. If it's your first bar job, then expect around £7.40 an hour, though some good restaurant companies do pay more even to inexperienced staff. Tips when you're first starting? You'll have to wait and see what your average will be. It all depends on your smile and super personality!
Interested in finding out how to earn more tips? Read our blog post ‘What is Flair Bartending?’