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Tips Welcome: 6 Best Cities for Bartenders

Every city needs a good bartender or two, but due to wages, tips, and demand, some cities make better workplaces than others. Read on for six cities where bartenders have the best jobs and make the most money.

New York, New York

The cost of living may be high in the Big Apple, but with bars open until 4 a.m. every night of the week, this is an excellent city for bartenders and drinkers alike. Many work at local neighborhood beer bars like Beer Culture, but others set their sights high and mix complex libations at lounges like Café Carlyle.

San Francisco, California

Bartenders in San Francisco report some of the highest wages in the U.S. in the bartending industry. Some of this is due to the higher minimum wage in California, and the rest comes thanks to unusually high median tips per hour. In the end, San Francisco bartenders make over $25 per hour on average working at trendy bars like Belga, but their dollar also has to stretch further in this incredibly expensive city.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a great city for bartenders, thanks to a unique combination of factors. Not only does this Midwestern city boast one of the highest percentage of tippers, but those who do tip tend to leave the largest amounts. That means that great bartenders can make bank in the bar scene here, which ranges from dive spots to mixology havens like the Aviary. As a city filled with sports teams and their fans, there’s always a great reason to celebrate with a well-mixed drink.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Tourism and hospitality are the names of the game in Las Vegas, making Sin City one of the best places to live and work for bartenders. On average, they earn over $20 per hour with base pay and tips, a relative fortune in a city where it’s easy to live cheaply. Bartenders here have a huge range of options, from high-end casino bars like Parasol Up/Parasol Down to downtown classics like Frankie’s Tiki Room.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Another magical place where a high rate of tippers correlates with a large tip percentage, Philadelphia is a great city for bartenders. Since Philly also has a relatively low cost of living for a city with so many opportunities, signs point to this city being an excellent place to hone the craft of mixology. Bartenders in this city can do well working the crowd at tourist spots or local joints like Local 44.

Miami, Florida

It’s perpetually summer in Miami, and the living is easy along Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive hotspots and downtown Miami’s pulsating clubs. Though bartenders here earn an average of just under $20 per hour, an impressive 70 percent of their income is from tips alone. That means experienced and highly skilled bartenders can rake it in when working in Mansion Nightclub and other popular nightlife spots.

From San Francisco to New York City, these are the top cities for bartenders to live and work. Whether you’re an aspiring or an experienced bartender, seek out your next gig in one of these hotspots.

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