Critic’s Notebook

. March 1, 2015.

I won’t say where I was, but I will think twice about location the next time someone suggests going  downtown for chicken nachos and local beer. 

The scenario: I order a rye from the bar. The bartender asks for ID. I’m flattered. He pours the rye and says, “$5.50.” I hand him a fiver and two singles. He takes the money and says “thank you,” and then turns to the next customer. I stand there for a beat before realizing he’s not going to give me my change. 

Was he prompt with my drink order? Yes. Was he pleasant to order from? Sure, pleasant enough. Did his service warrant the $1-per-drink-at-a-beer-bar standard tip rate? Absolutely. So what went wrong?

Okay, perhaps I could have planned better. 

The scenario: I order a rye from the bar. The bartender asks for ID. I’m flattered. He pours the rye and says, “$5.50.” I hand him a fiver and a single. He scoffs and returns 50 cents. I leave a one dollar tip and pocket the 50 cents. 


But should the onus really be on the customer here? No. Frankly, it’s poor practice (read: unprofessional) for a server or bartender to assume the amount of their tip, even when the bill is as simple as a single drink from a beer bar.


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