How Much Do Bartenders Make In Tips?

Trends 17 minute read 1st March 2022

How Much Do Bartenders Make in Tips?

Being around different people every day, pouring drinks, and witnessing the most popular events a TV can display during your work shift. Being a bartender has its perks.

The only downside?

Being around that much alcohol and not being able to drink it. Not a big deal if you’re in for the money.

Bartending is an attractive job, and it has a pretty decent hire rate as most restaurants, hotels, or casinos need one. But, how lucrative is this job? After all, bartenders not only make their base salary. They also get favored by customers in the form of tips.

Well, get yourself comfortable because whether you’re a bartender or a bar/pub owner trying to understand how your tipping stacks up against average, you’re about to find out. In this post we’ll go through:

  • What’s the base salary of a bartender?
  • How much can you expect to make on one night as a bartender?
  • The tipping rates you can expect
  • And the average salary of a bartender with tips

Let’s get started.

How Much Do Bartenders Make?

We looked through the most popular job search engines and job post websites and found the average bartender pay per hour is $12.91. And the average bartender’s salary is $24,787.20 a year. Have in mind that these averages don’t include tips.

Here are the averages per hour, week, month, and year:

Website Hour Week Month Year
Glassdoor $12.00 $480.00 $1,920.00 $23,040.00
Indeed $14.07 $562.80 $2,251.20 $27,014.40
ZipRecruiter $12.05 $482.00 $1,928.00 $23,136.00
Salary.com $12.43 $497.20 $1,988.80 $23,865.00
Talent.com $14.00 $560.00 $2,240.00 $26,880.00
Average $12.91 $516.40 $2,065.60 $24,787.20

Of course, and as is the case in most things in life, your wage depends on other factors like:

  • The state you live in
  • Years of experience
  • Gender…unfortunately

Let’s break down the averages on each one.

How Much Do Bartenders Make per State?

Every state is different for minimum wages and salaries. For bartenders, there are states that pay as little as $10/hr and as much as $17/hr.

Indeed created a map to show how much bartenders earn by state according to their average ($14.07/hr).

How much do bartenders make - Map 01 - article

As you can see, the states that pay the most to bartenders are New Hampshire with $17.72/hr and Massachusetts with $17.58/hr. While the lowest paying rates for bartenders are in Mississippi with $10.41/hr.

How Much Do Bartenders Earn Based on Their Experience?

Again, Indeed has the answer to this:

Years of experience Per hour
Less than 1 year -
1 to 2 years $13.01
3 to 5 years $14.81
6 to 9 years -
More than 10 years $16.19

Although sometimes, as it happens with some casinos, your base salary is going to be the same as a person with fewer years of experience. The difference between you two would be the seniority.

Meaning…

If Jerry has been bartending for five years in X company and you just started there, but have nine years of experience, the two of you are going to have the same base salary. But as Jerry was working at X first, he’s going to have more benefits, like the best shifts or hours.

How Much Do Bartenders Make by Gender?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bartender men earned $583/ week in 2021. While bartender women earned $477/week.

This translates into the following income per week, month, and year:

Gender Hour Week Month Year
Men $14.58 $583.00 $2,332.00 $27,984.00
Women $11.93 $477.00 $1,908.00 $22,895.00

And it means that a bartender woman earns 81.82% of what a bartender man earns. This alluded to the persistent gender wage gap in which, on average, women make about 84% of what men earn.

Now, that’s covered, and before you think of starting a new life in New Hampshire. Let’s talk about what really matters to a bartender. Tips.

How Much Do Bartenders Make in Tips a Night?

According to Indeed, bartenders make an average of $150 a night in tips.

Were you expecting more?

You must surely have heard those stories about bartenders making $1,000 or more in a shift. Yeah, they’re true, but these are the high-end stories. The reality is that there are bartenders earning $50 a night, some $300, and then there’s the $1,800 kind of guys.

This all has an explanation and, here comes the d-word again, it depends.

  • Sigh* decisions‌, it all comes to that. So, what or where should you aim for to have a nice bartending career? Or to know how tipping is going on in your business?

Average Bartender Tips

Let’s get into detail.

Thrillist turned to mixologists, bartenders, and drink directors to learn what a decent tip means for them. And it turns out that the $1 per drink rule is a little bit outdated. Now, it’s expected to get between 18% - 20% of the final bill — even 20% per drink.

The logic goes like this:

  • $1/drink when the bartender serves drinks that require little effort like beer and shots
  • $2 - $4/drink when these are elaborated cocktails
  • 18% - 20% of the final bill when the service is good
  • Over 20% when the service is exceptional

But, and here we go again, these rates can change according to:

  • State — because every state has its own tipping culture
  • Venue or type of restaurant (establishment) — the area you work at matters
  • Gender
  • And how good of a bartender you are

That last one also applies to how friendly you are with customers. And let’s be honest, you’re in the hospitality industry, so being friendly is kind of your job.

Tipping per State

Moneypenny says the standard tipping percentage for service is 15% in the states. And using this information, they researched which states tip the best and worst. Here are the results:

How much do bartenders make - Map 02 - 16x9

This can give you an idea of how much you can get or how willing are customers to give you tips. New Hampshire keeps being the state where more bartenders would like to go make a living. And, in this case, Idaho is the worst tipping state.

The thing is even the worst tipping states tip more than the standard. So, cheers to those customers that take care of their bartenders.

Tipping by Venue or Type of Establishment

The establishment you work at matters because of two things: prices and volume of visitors.

Meaning if you work at a popular place where a lot of people go on the weekends, you can get $1 or $2 per person. So, if you serve 100 drinks on your shift, that’s at least $100. On the other hand, if the prices of the drinks are high, and your customers give you tips according to the bill, that’s 18% or 20% from a big bill that goes into your pockets.

Here are some cases of tipping according to a discussion on Quora:

  • Tipping on low-class establishments: These include dive bars, neighborhood pubs, low-key or laid-back bars. As these types of establishments are usually visited for having cheap drinks, it usually means you won’t make 20% of the bill. And sometimes you won’t get $1 for every drink, maybe $1 for every customer. So, tipping for these places can be between $50 to $200 (on a very good night) or sometimes no one comes in and you end up with nothing.
  • Tipping on middle-class establishments: These include popular restaurants, hotels, sports bars, and casinos. Here’s where the $150 average on tip applies or $300 on a good night (according to a Las Vegas casino bartender).
  • Tipping on high-class establishments: These include luxury casinos, hotels, or fine-dining restaurants. The kind of place you want to be in, as here’s where money is made. Tips are between $400 and $1,400 the day/night (if you end up on a good shift and the right days).

Also, remember that on days with events like parties, sports matches, the right holidays, or by seasonality, your tips can skyrocket.

How Tipping Works by Gender

Academic studies show that customers tip better to a server of the opposite sex. And it’s no surprise men are the ones who most frequent a bar or a social gathering where there is alcohol. So, naturally, women get more tips.

Also, the study revealed male customers tip the most compared to female customers — when the server is a woman. And the tipping from male customers was affected, even more, by the attractiveness of a server of the opposite sex.

Tipping by How Good of a Bartender You Are

At least this is one of the few things you can easily control about your earnings when you’re a bartender. Now, you may ask, but how do I know if I’m a good bartender? Is it how I talk to customers? How many cocktails do I know? Do I have to tell a story about every drink?

The one about the stories would be a nice plus, and some clients would love it. But the real way of measuring a good bartender is by a mix of people skills, knowledge about drinks, and speed.

If you have people skills, customers are going to like you more. They may even give you much more of a standard tip and can become regulars to come to talk to you. Take care of that kind of customer.

About how many different cocktails you can make, anyone can memorize that, so that’s standard. But speed means you’re experienced and can attend a busy bar — which employers love, so they’ll schedule you on busy shifts. And the more drinks you serve, the more tips you get.

Do Bartenders Make Good Money?

Yes, bartenders make good money. But then if that’s true, how much does a bartender makes a year?

On average, a bartender’s salary with tips is $60,787.2/year. This assuming that they make $12.91/hr on wage and $150/shift on tips. The median earnings for an American in 2021 is $51,480/year, which means any amount above that is a good salary.

But what if I don’t like people and I just want to make a living?

Or…

As a restaurant owner, you see how some of your guys barely make tips?

Tip pooling in the US is a great way restaurants make sure bartenders get tips regardless of the kind of customer they encounter. This practice consists of all the bartenders putting their tips on a pot. Then the money in the pot is divided between the employees in a way defined by the establishment.

Tipping Is Good Karma

With all these rates, numbers, and percentages, you may already have a good idea of how much you should make as a bartender. This career can be ridiculously lucrative, as well as just enough to cover bills. But now that you’re equipped with all this knowledge, you can start aiming higher.

As a side note, is good to put effort into giving the best service to customers so you can get tips. But remember that there’s a limit to that. You’re a person and you deserve as much respect as the people you serve drinks to.

If you’re a restaurant owner, now you have an overview of how tipping is going on your establishment. And some tips on how you can help your guys meet their end needs.

Further reading: Tip pooling in the US

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