Tipping culture is similar in Montreal to elsewhere in Canada and the United States. While not required, it is generally expected, and failure to tip is often considered rude and/or poor treatment of hospitality staff. While actual rates/amounts vary depending on specifics – quality of service, type of environment, etc – a good baseline is 15-20% of your total bill.
Is tipping required/compulsory?
No, but it’s generally expected and pretty customary throughout Montreal, as is the same across most of North America. Many to most bartenders and in general hospitality staff rely on tips as a part of their salary, so it directly impacts what they take home each night.
Tipping per drink
A good rule of thumb is to tip $1-2 per drink if you will only have a few drinks – for example, you order a Mai-Tai from a bar and the price is $8.00. You hand the barkeep a $10. That’s the end of the transaction – everyone is happy, everyone wins. Note, the barkeep should offer you your change (in fact, it’s illegal if they do not), but it’s usually easier just to assume that is the tip from the word go. This saves you and he or she time, and lets everyone get back to what they are doing that much quicker.
Quicker service = everyone wins.
When service is exemplary
Don’t be shy about tipping a little extra if your bartender or server goes above and beyond to give you a great experience, or in particular if you were part of a notably rowdy crowd. Likewise, if you’ve been given the 5 star treatment – especially if something went wrong and the server or bartender went out of his or her way to fix it – recognize that with a little extra. You’ll make their night, doubly so if yours wasn’t the only mistake they had to fix.