Let’s not beat around the immaculately-set table; you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing when it comes to tipping. Most ‘rules’ you’ve got have been self-set, and are bent and warped depending on the quality of your meal, calibre of your company and state of your bank balance.
But don’t fret, for we at Gentleman’s Journal are dab hands at tipping. Be it for a simple round of coffees, or a full three-course dinner, there are rules to live by when dipping into your pocket. So listen closely, for this is how a gentleman tips.
There’s nothing worse than waving a bunch of freshly-withdrawn notes around a restaurant like a bouquet of extravagant flowers. A gentleman doesn’t care who sees how much money he is leaving, and making sure everyone from the bar to the back room can spy your paper is gauche – to say the least.
“The key to tipping like a gentleman is finding that perfect balance between being discreet and understated,” says André Mannini, of London’s famed M restaurants. “Not to mention giving the money you are tipping the importance it deserves.”
Translation: Don’t trivialise the amount you’re leaving with over-the-top, unbecoming behaviour. Leaving a tip is as much a part of the meal as the food, and you wouldn’t splash your soup around the table or make a scene with your breadsticks – so don’t with your tip.
The tip is a personal gesture. Ergo, you should make presenting the serving staff with it a personal affair. We’re not condoning leaping from your chair and embracing them, whispering sweet nothings and compliments to the chef in their ear, but just something more than coldly leaving some cash on the table.
“Personally, I am a big fan of not paying at the table,” says Mannini, offering us an alternative, “but instead making an effort of going to find the waiter to settle the bill in private. This will give you a chance to exchange a few words, thank your server personally, and will send a strong message of appreciation.”
You wouldn’t reach for the toothpicks until your meal is finished, and neither should you open your wallet. This sort of conduct screams out that you don’t tryst the establishment at which you are eating, and the staff will be put in the awkward situation of trying to give you ‘special treatment’ because you’ve tipped in advance.
“If you are under some pressure and want to impress your guests,” offers Mannini, “it is certainly more gentlemanly to have a quiet word with the maître d or the waiter – sincerely telling them how important this gathering is for you and if they could please keep an eye on things so they run smoothly.”
This may seem counter-intuitive, but believe us. Your tip is a sign of thankfulness towards the staff, not a way to display your wealth, and slapping down a whole wedge of notes will come off as vulgar and arriviste. Always pay the service charge in full and, of course, don’t skimp on the gratuity, but it’s not an opportunity to laude your wealth over others.
“The fact that most establishments nowadays add service charge makes your life as a tipping gentleman much easier,” says Mannini. “This being included already in your bill takes away the effort of calculating it and leaves you to liberally add a small amount to it as a gesture of gratitude – which is exactly what a tip originally was, and really should be.”
Looking for somewhere to test out your new tipping skills? Why not head to BOTTLES, the city’s hottest new wine bar?