TIP your OPEN BAR Staff

RHODODENDRONS Life Lesson #3: An open bar means the drinks are free; it doesn't mean you don't have to tip your bartender.

Everyone knows when you receive an invite to an event that's open bar, you go. Whether it's your wife's boss' retirement party, a fundraiser for the eradication of Asian Carp, or an offer to be the plus one at a wedding this weekend with a guy you just met on OK Cupid last night, an evening of unlimited, cheap booze is not one you should pass up.

Notice that we describe an open bar as "cheap," not "free." If you don't tip your bartender, first off - you are a real [nickname for Richard], and second - you're missing out on the benefits of being recognized as The One Memorable Guy Who Tipped Us for the rest of the night.

It's a common misconception that event staff who sling drinks behind an open bar make up in hourly wages what they miss out on in tips from a regular cash bar. Sure, hourly pay is increased, but never a truly compensatory amount. The fault lies with their managers who think, "The bartenders tonight won't have to run credit cards and give change every drink, so they're really not working as hard as they normally would. We'll just bump up their hourly pay a bit, and that'll be good enough." This line of thinking fails to recognize that, in an open bar, the number of drinks served per hour increases at a rate vastly exceeding the decrease in per drink energy expended. In layman's terms: serving 90 free drinks in an hour is still more work than serving 45 paid drinks in the same amount of time.

Have you ever taken more than eight seconds to look at your open bartender's face? That look of forlorn resolution is on there for a reason - no matter how much math we explain, or however many countless essays on the service industry are published, people are inherently cheap and 90% of customers would rather drink for free later than plan ahead now and grab cash to tip a dollar or two later at the bar.

By now you're probably thinking, "This is a fine argument and good proposition for the workers, and I support a $15 minimum wage, but what's in it for me?" Great question, selfish narcissist.

Next time you show up to an open bar, here's your opening move: walk up to the bartender, ask for her name and how she's doing tonight, introduce yourself, then put a ten dollar bill in the tip jar and say, politely, "Well, Sam, it's been very nice to meet you. I'll probably be back up here a lot tonight so I just wanted to say thank you in advance." It's that easy! You're now the proud owner of unlimited drink karma for the next two hours. Now each time you get back in line Sam will see you approaching, and while the couple in front of you debate Jack & Cokes versus Whiskey Sours, your drink is quickly prepared and slid to the side of the bar with a nod and a smile. Drink, nod, and repeat for the rest of the evening.

In order to make this plan foolproof, however, you can't be wearing the same dark suit or navy sweater/white oxford combination as every other chump at the party, you need a unique piece to make your The Guy Already Who Tipped Us status instantly recognizable, and this Hender Scheme Natural Leather Jacket is just the right piece. It will guarantee your bartender remembers you, and as a bonus makes the other partygoers believe the reason you're getting your drink before them is that you're just a champagne-swilling overall badass.



Price:  $3,850

Brand:  Hender Scheme

Store:  Mohawk General Store

Why:  Hender Scheme is one of our favorite brands operating today; this writer got married in a pair, and has another pair in the closet on ice for years down the line. After getting their start with "homage" footwear - recreations of mass-produced models like the Jordan IV, Vans New Era and German Army Trainer, hand sewn in natural leather - Hender Scheme has expanded with original footwear designs as well as other leather goods, including their piece de resistance, this all natural leather biker jacket. The untanned leather is meant to absorb elements and patina with wear over time, telling a story unique to its owner. Sure it's expensive, but when you think about all the time you'll save waiting in line for drinks at open bars from now until your early death due to liquor-induced liver failure, it might as well be free.