Navigating local customs can be a minefield, especially when it comes to the service industry.

In particular, tipping can be a large source of confusion and embarrassment, as no one likes to unintentionally offend the locals. So where do you tip, and how much?

Today’s topic is bars. Unlike restaurants – where everyone assumes tipping is customary – many visitors to Israel are oblivious to the fact they’re expected to leave a tip, and are then surprised to have their empty tip tray snatched away by a stony faced bartender.

Even if you’re just ordering a bottle of beer and not actually sitting on the bar or getting table service, it’s customary to leave a few shekels. If you’re sitting on the bar the same applies, although you may choose to leave more to build a good rapport with your bartender. Tipping can actually pay off in the attention you receive from your server. You may even be treated to some bar snacks or shots on the house if you’re considered to be a good customer. At the very least, you’re sure to see a sunnier disposition.

Tips are typically around 12-15 percent, although anything above 10 percent is considered acceptable. If you’re unsatisfied with the service you receive you’re under no obligation to leave a tip. 

But if this isn't the case, be generous to your bartenders - likely a student, an artist, or recent army veteran saving up for a trip around the world - and toss them a few extra shekel. Everyone leaves happier.