The only tipping guide you’ll ever need

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Here’s how much to tip in restaurants, bars, cafes, takeout and delivery.



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Tipping these days has become a source of frazzled nerves for many of us. Where there used to be a fairly standard “15% for decent service, 20% for exceptional service” metric, it now seems like how much you tip varies wildly. With the advent of some sites eliminating subsidized salary levels for tips and others not, the pandemic goodwill habits of being extra generous with servers and all the different ways we now receive our wares, how do we know tell us what is fair to tip?

Tipping for service and the resulting expectations are one of those gray areas that can change from place to place. So how do you know what to do when presented with the bill? Here are some tips on how much to tip.

RELATED: Wait, are we really supposed to tip 25% everywhere now?

Tip cash if you can.

It’s always easy to add that tip to the credit card receipt, but then there’s a charge of 3% or more on that money, which often impacts the amount actually in your servers’ hands. Bringing cash is an elegant decision.

RELATED: Should you tip in cash or on a credit card?

Restaurants with table service

First, check to see if they include a service fee to support decent employee salaries and benefits. If so, while you’ll always find a tip line on your bill, know that it’s there to recognize exceptional service, not to provide a base salary. In these cases a small token is appropriate, think $5-10 per guest depending on the extent of the meal and the overall per person cost of food and drink. If the staff goes above and beyond, helping to make an occasion special, accommodating complicated requests, being especially kind to your grandmother or patient with your three-year-old, erring in excess or even making a 10% bonus on top of the bill.

RELATED: The art of splitting the check

If your restaurant does not include a service charge, you should assume that servers are paid less per hour and that the tip should make up the difference. These days, 18% is a bare minimum, 20-22% is the norm, and a good experience should be around 24-25% or even higher if you’re feeling generous.

If you want and need the help of a sommelier, especially if they guide you on the wine pairings for the meal or if you need decanted wine, be sure to increase the tip accordingly , adding $5 to $10 per bottle, $15 to $25 if decanted. The older or more expensive the wine, or the more important the sommelier, the higher this additional tip should be.

RELATED: How to BYOB and not be a fool about it

Go out

Previously, tipping was not expected for food you picked up yourself, as tipping was reserved for waiters. Things have changed, and with tip splitting (in some states where it’s legal) between front and back of the house, you’re now more expected to tip even when you come. look for your own food. It doesn’t need to be a percentage of the bill, but rather can be an acknowledgment of the work to put it together. Just a burrito, a side of guacamole and a Topo Chico to go? $4-5 is enough to greet the staff. Looking for a three-course feast for 12 people for your Superbowl party? You might want to slip them $20.

RELATED: 4 rules for ordering takeout

Delivery

Delivery is complex, but let’s assume the driver probably gets the end of the stick, whether you’re ordering directly from the restaurant or through a delivery app. Follow the same advice as for takeout, but consider the complexity of getting your food in a timely manner. A pizza delivered downstairs from the Original Ray’s half block? $5 for the problem is more than enough. Thirty books of Chinese and a case of beer delivered four miles across town to the fifth floor without an elevator? Give that person $20 and an expression of your most sincere thanks.

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Drinks at the bar

Effort is what is rewarded here, and your tip should depend on how and what you order. If you have an open tab for an evening, tip at least 15% on the final bill, 20% if the bartender was fantastic. If you tip per drink as you go, $1 per drink for beer or shots or simple spirits + mixers. Go up to $2-3 per person if your drink has more than three ingredients, requires extra effort like scrambling, or requires more than five good shakes or mixes to bring it together.

If you ask a bartender to whip up your secret special recipe for your favorite drink, or if you ask him to make you something off the menu, or if you ask him to advise you on your drinks and he does a great job, an extra $5-20 before you go on top of the tip per drink, depending on how many drinks they have prepared for you, will always be a gesture that will help them remember you next time.

RELATED: What hospitality professionals want guests to know about tipping

Coffee

Follow the same principle as for the drinks above. If you’re a “big black coffee” person, $1 per cup is enough. If you’re a “extra hot oatmeal mousse latte with two pumps hazelnut one pump vanilla three dashes cinnamon and can you do a picture of my cat on top” look at your life choices then give a tip your barista between $2 and $3 per cup.

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