I have a good friend who is a bartender at his dad's small billiards bar. I'm not hugely into the bar scene, but every few weeks a few other friends and I will head over there for a few drinks, a game or two of pool, and some conversation with some of the friendly regulars. Because we're friends of the bartender, our drinks (whether they be beer, my favorite screwdriver, or shirley temples) are always comped, and sometimes we get free food as well. I was there on New Year's Eve and I got a free glass of Moet.
My friend's dad pays his employees well, with all of his bartenders (not just his son) making $10 an hour, which is just about unheard of in my area. They also make really good tips, with my friend often coming home with close to $200 in cash on top of his paycheck. He makes a LOT more money than I do even before his tips, so I greatly appreciate the fact that he takes care of me whenever I come by. However, I feel weird totally taking advantage of the situation, so in the past I've thrown whatever I would likely have spent on the drinks in the tip jar -- usually $10 to $15 each night, both as a tip for his actual work and as a thank you for his kindness. However, $15 is almost twice my hourly wage, and my friend is already raking it in. Should I continue tipping the cost of the drinks, drop down to the standard bar-tip ($1-$2 a drink), or go somewhere in between? I don't want to be a mooch, but what's the point of getting free drinks if you're paying for them anyway?