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I’m a cocktail waitress in NYC. In my experience, New Year’s Eve is overhyped — here’s why.

headshot of Deanna CollDeanna Coll.

Courtesy of Deanna Coll

  • Deanna Coll is a cocktail waitress at a nightclub in New York City and a model during the day.
  • She says the job is flexible and the pay can be great, but her paychecks vary seasonally.
  • In her experience, New Year’s Eve is overhyped, tips aren’t great, and everyone is from out of town.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Deanna Coll, a 27-year-old cocktail waitress in New York City, about her job. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I started working as a cocktail waitress in 2019. My primary job is modeling, and when I went to an open call after moving to New York from Pittsburgh, one of the agents recommended I get a bottle-service job so I could work nights and have the days to really go after a career as a model.

Since then, I’ve worked at Catch, PHD, and Tao Downtown, and I currently work at a hotel with a small nightclub as a cocktail server.

While the job is flexible and pay can be great, it varies seasonally 

The hotel I work at has a rooftop open during the summer and an indoor micro-club open year-round. The job is mostly serving cocktails to tables with up to $6,000 minimums depending on demand for the night, and sometimes there will be bottle service, too. I do both.

bottle girls holding bottles and lightsColl, holding the bottle, at work.

Courtesy of Deanna Coll.

It can be really difficult because you’re trying to upsell customers to bottles. It’s especially difficult serving during the summer because it’s 80 to 90 degrees on the rooftop bar and you’re running around filling individual orders.

In the winter, we’re inside only, and traffic is a lot slower. It’s very cocktail-heavy and there’s more bottle service inside the nightclub. In the winter, I see minimums that range from $400 to $6,000, with an average of around $1,500.

We do get tables that spend much more than that. I saw one table spend more than $20,000 in one night.

There are 3 different tiers for shifts 

There’s an opening shift, which starts around 4:30 p.m. When you’re opening, you’ll get off around midnight. Then there’s a mid-shift and a late-night shift that starts at 9 p.m.

I prefer bottle service to cocktailing because it’s just not as hard. It’s much more fun — you can hang out with the guests at their tables, take their orders, drink with them if the club permits, and just kind of entertain them a little bit. Those transactions are easier compared to taking individual orders and mixing cocktails yourself. The place I’m at now is a lot more detail-oriented because it’s focused on individual drinks.

During the summer, my checks, including tips, have ranged from $1,500 to $2,000 per week

I’ve definitely heard of servers making $1,000 in one night.

In the winter, I take home between $300 and $400 a week. The higher end would be $600 to $700, but that’s generous. In the summer, you have to keep in mind that you’ll make less money in the winter, so you can’t go crazy and spend all the money that you make. That’s a tough lesson for many to learn.

In my experience, New Year’s Eve in NYC has never lived up to the hype 

A lot of people go to house parties and stay in because they’ve just spent all their money on Christmas. The people that come to clubs are usually from out of town.

The downside to this is that New Year’s Eve in New York is overstaffed because every year they think it’s going to be crazy and managers don’t let anyone take off. You’re also missing out on spending the night with the friends and family you care about. But if I was working at a bigger nightclub, like Marquee, my feelings might be different because I’d make more money due to higher minimums.

Tips on New Year’s Eve are better than average winter nights, but not as much as you’d think for all the hype around the night. Because most of those events are ticketed, people are less likely to tip because they’ve already paid for entry, the open bar, and prepaid bottle service.

I started posting about my experience as a server on TikTok in 2021, and it received a lot of traction 

People were impressed by how much I was able to earn in one night simply serving bottles or cocktails. I’m frequently asked how to get into nightlife, how to apply for a bottle-service job, what to say during an interview — questions like that.

If you want to be a cocktail server in NYC, you really have to throw yourself into it. I had absolutely no serving experience when I first started looking for a job. You have to have confidence and be able to sell yourself on your abilities — whatever they might be.

I was relentless, and I went on so many different interviews. I would call the venues over the phone and ask for the manager’s email.

I would advise those without serving experience to start with a job at a smaller place so you can learn your liquors, drinks, and how to build certain cocktails. Learning how to interact with customers is also important. Once I got my first job, I was able to get the jobs I’ve had since through connections with coworkers. Connections are everything, and everyone is moving around and asking each other if they need a new job.

When you get an interview, dress the way you would for a regular job interview. Don’t be afraid to choose an outfit that represents you and your personality.

Are you a cocktail waitress who wants to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at

Read the original article on Business Insider