Entertaining, Vol. 4, Issue 44

October 30th, 2005 . by Etiquetteer


Dear Etiquetteer:When I am at a fancy ball, and I receive gratis drink ticket(s), what is the Perfectly Proper protocol for tipping the bartender/tendress? What if the host has provided an open bar?P.S. Can I tell you that a while back I was at a fancy cocktail party at the rooftop bar of a skyscraper in Montreal, where complimentary drink tickets had been issued prior to the event. When I gave the bartender my order and ticket, he slid his oversized-Cognac-glass tip jar from a side position so that it was directly in front of me. He waited until I dropped a little something into the jar before taking any further action. I thought Americans were supposed to be the rude ones! Needless to say, I skipped my second and third drink that evening. Dear Ticketed:Ah, the ticket bar. Nothing looks cheaper, and yet nothing is more tiresomely necessary when non-profits on a budget, pesky local laws, or militant teetotalers are involved. Etiquetteer knows that sometimes there’s no way around a ticket bar, but that doesn’t make Etiquetteer like it. By all means, when getting a drink at a ticket bar, tip as you would ordinarily at a public bar. At an open bar at a large event, tip as you would ordinarily. At an open bar hosted by a private individual, no tipping should be permitted; it’s the host’s responsibility.Your Canadian bartender exhibited dreadful manners! But Etiquetteer knows he does not represent Canadian bartenders as a whole. Etiquetteer wishes you’d been able to find another bartender to assist you.PS: And that would be “barmaid,” by the way, not “bartendress.” For Etiquetteer the word “barmaid” conjures images of Dickens and the Scarlet Pimpernel.

As long as we’re talking about entertaining, Etiquetteer needs to take this opportunity to sweep away some of the perceived glamour of hosting a party. When most everybody thinks of entertaining at home, they think of cooking, enough matching glasses, guest soaps in the bathroom, what to wear, and (inexplicably) blackening the wicks of candles they don’t intend to light. Let Etiquetteer snatch the veil from your eyes. These days, the most important part of your party may be good directions and enough parking spaces.Etiquetteer definitely laments this turn of events. But let’s face it, that rosy picture of the “old days” when everyone who knew everyone else all lived in the same town or neighborhood was fiction. Nowadays nobody has any idea where they’re going! And there’s not always a place to park once they get there. Can there be any worse way to spoil a party than to have to take phone calls every two minutes from wayward revelers pelting unknown landmarks at you trying to find your home? That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much, who doesn’t even own a car, has found this particularly trying since he gets everywhere different from Those Who Drive.Hosts and hostesses, take a tip from Etiquetteer: don’t just send your guests explicit directions and parking information, post them by your own phone so that you’ll have them handy when your guests call. It wouldn’t hurt to have a map of the neighborhood handy, too. This way your party will be less like the Blind leading the Bungled.

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