Private Party Shakedown

A few weeks ago I was invited to a private party at a private club. As I was a guest at a party I didn’t think to bring any cash. The host was generously providing the food and drink at the very nice event.

Everything about the party was lavish. The passed hors d’oeuvre were extravagant, from the jumbo shrimp, to the mini crab cakes. The dinner was delicious, and no one had trouble finding something to their pleasure from the beef tenderloin, lobster tail pasta or the chicken Provençal.

It was apparent the host had thought of everything and was generous, with one exception. When I went to the bar to get a club soda the bartender had a big glass tip jar on the bar full of ones and fives. At first I was embarrassed to ask for a drink and not give a tip, even if it was just club soda. I slinked away from the bar after apologizing for not having money on me.

Then I got to thinking. I bet the host had no idea that the bartender was practically soliciting tips, even though I am certain that the host was paying for service, including a tip on their catering bill. The bartender was taking advantage of guests at a private party because a tip jar is usual at a bar where you are paying for drinks.

I was not going to bring this to my host’s attention, but it made me aware that when having a private party with a bar tender you need to be explicit that they should not have a tip jar. Imagine if you had hired a bartender to work a party at your house and they put out a tip jar. This is the same idea when you are having a private party at a public place. It might be different if it were a fund raiser and the bar tenders were volunteers, but even that scenario troubles me.

If you ever come to a party I am throwing and see a tip jar on the bar, let me know right away. Those ones and fives will go nicely towards paying the catering bill and the tip that is already worked into my bill. I will tip the bartenders, guests should not be expected to do so.

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