Of Fads and Fingers

Do you raise your pinkie when drinking tea, you pretentious goof?

Thank you,
Heather

Dear Heather,

There are two ways to approach this housesitting job. First, you could approach it as if he were doing you a favor -- that is, your brother is watching your house and your dog out of the goodness of his heart -- and repay him with sisterly love and a token gift of some sort (what you describe sounds more than adequate).

Or you could approach it as a business relationship, in which case you would ask your brother what he expects in payment for this "job," and agree to terms ahead of time. (Then, because you are not just "business partners" but also family, you might want to throw in a little thank-you gift on top of that.)

Dear Social Grace,

When tipping, do you also include the wine/bar/liquor bill? If not, what is the reasoning? Also, when you're just ordering drinks at a bar (no food), what is the proper tipping etiquette?

Thank you,
Dena Reiner

Dear Ms. Reiner,

Of course you include the liquor or wine when calculating a tip -- I can't imagine anyone using "reasoning" to reach the opposite conclusion. (If you've been served by a sommelier, you tip him or her separately -- 15 to 20 percent of your wine purchase.)

To sum up tipping for tipplers: Bartenders usually get one or two dollars for a mixed drink; a drink that is complicated, "shaken," or especially expensive earns the bartender more (Mojito drinkers, I'm talking to you). You should usually end up tipping about 15 percent of your bar tab. In higher-end places, a tip of less than a dollar at a time is often considered improper -- use your good judgment. Cocktail servers should get that 15 percent plus an additional couple of dollars per round. If you're at a bar and given a table bill, you can simply tip 15 to 20 percent.

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