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December 10, 2010

Giving a holiday gift to your favorite bartender or cocktail waitress can be awkward for both of you as well as the rest of the staff.  Here are some very simple guidelines to follow to help this be as smooth as eggnog:

Gifting the entire staff:  If you have a present for the entire staff, choose something that all can share in.  Ask the owner or manager to present the gift during the company party, or drop it to the boss and ask that it be shared on a certain day.  Another way is to go into the bar during a slow period (not in the middle of happy hour or the dinner rush) and pass along your parcel then. 

Gifting one person:  If you want to give a little something to your favorite bartender or cocktailer, do it when no one else is looking.  You don’t want to show favorites which might put off the other staff members.  Catch them on a smoke break or at the beginning of the shift.  (By the way, don’t expect a lot of fanfare at the time.  Bar staff stay very busy, and all you may get out of them at the time is a quick and abbreviated ‘thank you’ before they have to go pour drinks for the loud twelve-top in the corner).  The key thing is not to do this in while another bartender is behind the bar with them.  So what do you give to show your love for a bar?  Cookie trays are always a hit.  Bar staffs don;t always get a chance to eat especially during the holiday rush, and a little sugar high is always decadent and fun.  Generic gift cards( from Visa or AMEX) are also good as well.  Everyone is different, and it is an easy way to give a little something to everyone that they can use where they want.  You could also hit up the local movie theatre or playhouse, or an online shop like 

What to avoid giving?  Booze for one, unless you are away from the bar.  But, if you choose to go this route, check with the boss first: tell him/her that you have a a bottle you’re giving to so-and-so especially if it is something that is in stock at the bar.  This way the bartender doesn’t look like he/she is grabbing a little holiday bonus form the liquor room.  Cash is another.  It looks like a tip to the other staff who might be a part of a tip pool.

A little something is always loved by those who spend all year giving of themselves.  And because many in the hospitality business spend the holidays away from their own families to be at work and share in a collective resentment of the season.  A little something means a lot from the ‘extended bar family’ of our coworkers and our regulars.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

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