The money is all about the tips in bartendingland. Your base hourly pay will be a hop and/or a skip from minimum wage. But your tips can be huge. In a given evening at a hot bar, you can pour up to $5,000 worth of alcohol. If tips are an average of 12-15%, that’s $600-$750. You’ll have to split that dough with others at the bar but it can be a big nut when things go right.
Now that's what we're talkin' about.
Bartenders pool tips at the end of the night, and then have to tip out the barbacks. Also, if you’re a service bar, the servers actually tip you out, which is a nice bonus. When all’s said and done, if you’re tending bar in a swanky urban bar, $350-$400 is a really good Saturday night. On the other side of the coin, if working in a dive bar in a suburb of Cleveland, you might be lucky to walk with $100.
Oh, and come tax time, don’t forget to claim all those tips. Hey, whaddya know – your first tip!