On Ordering

Friday, February 7, 2014

I got a great question from a friend the other day and realized that some of you may have wondered the very same thing–how exactly do you order a cocktail? I went to my guy on the rail for his advice on getting the perfect drink!

First, know the bar (or take a look at its menu). You could try ordering a dry martini at a tiki bar or a strawberry daiquiri at a Pre-Prohibition gin joint, but you'll do best if you order something the bartender can reasonably be expected to do well. I have my favorite dive bar cocktail, my drink of choice for swim-up bars and preferred sipper for evenings when I'm struggling with indecision, but the better your bartender, the more willing they'll be able to help you find a new favorite from their repertoire.

Which brings me to my second point: Your bartender may simply ask what you'd like (and in that case, do your best to be prepared or expect to wait a while before seeing him again), but if he offers to help you select a cocktail, he'll usually ask for your favorite spirit followed by, "Spirituous or citrus?" Simply think of your favorite cocktails when you answer; do you prefer a whiskey sour to an Old Fashioned?

Once you're certain of your cocktail, ask for it as clearly and directly as you can. If you're having a long drink, the mixer follows the spirit–like Gin & Tonic or Rum & Coke. Cocktails from a menu will be made with a specific spirit, but if you're ordering a vodka-soda, feel free to specify Hangar One or any other brand–or assume you'll be drinking the bar's well spirit. Depending on your watering hole, the well may be quite good, but if you've got a favorite, it's always best to ask. "Neat" means without ice, while "on the rocks" means quite the opposite and a cocktail served "up" (or "straight up") has been chilled and the ice strained out.

So tell me, any other questions about booze or bars? I'm all ears–cheers!


  1. This is brilliant! It's one of those things that you think you have handled until you you're faced with it. Thanks for such practical advice!

  2. I love this... except for the fact that I have a massive vodka tonic hangover, haha. Happy weekend, Lena.

  3. Thanks for these tips Lena. Things I always wonder when I'm out at a fancy place!



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