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Upscale Bars Introducing Mandatory Tips, Blaming Europe

By DNAinfo Staff on November 1, 2010 7:42am

Sliding a buck across the bar isn't cutting it these days at many upscale Manhattan bars.
Sliding a buck across the bar isn't cutting it these days at many upscale Manhattan bars.
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By Tara Kyle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — "Required" tips are a growing trend at some of the city's priciest bars— and bartenders are blaming the Europeans, the New York Post reported.

Hotspots including the Meatpacking District's Gansevoort and Standard Hotels, the Tribeca Grand and the Lobby Bar at Midtown's Ace Hotel are tacking on built-in tips of between 18 and 20 percent onto the bill, according to the Post.

For patrons at the Tribeca Grand, the 18 percent tip will bring the tab for a whopping $26 double Beefeater gin on the rocks to $30.68, the Post reported. At the Gansevoort Hotel, barflies pay an even higher 20 percent tip on beer, wine and cocktails.

Bar and club owners told the Post the move was prompted by the rush of European tourists who come from a culture where tipping is not customary.

"The French and the Italians and the Spanish don't tip, so it's becoming a necessity at any place that's dealing with a Euro crowd and wants to maintain its staff," nightlife impresario Steve Lewis told the Post.

The State Liquor Authority does not prohibit mandatory tipping practices, a spokesperson told the Post. But New York State case law shows that New Yorkers can choose to ignore the "required" tips, Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan told the Post.

"The discretion to refuse payment is an essential element of a tip or gratuity," Hogan told the Post after she dropped charges against a man who in 2004 declined to pay a mandatory 18 percent tip at a dinner upstate in Lake George.