Going to a bar is about more than just getting drunk someplace other than your own house or the cool basement of that neighbor who really shouldn’t have entrusted you with their keys. It’s about an implied relationship between you and an establishment.
In a city with roughly 25 bars per person (estimate based on how many bars we went to last weekend), we take that relationship pretty seriously. The bar won’t cheap out and water down your drinks, so you don’t creep out and order stuff that will make the bartenders hate you. Deal?
Another bar’s signature cocktail
What you say: Hey that other bar at that other place makes this other cocktail, can you do that?
What the bartender hears: Why can’t you be more like your sibling?
You’re at Bar A. You were at Bar B last week. Bar B had a cocktail you really liked. Instead of going back to Bar B you went to Bar A and asked for the cocktail that’s only served at Bar B. That’s what people in the industry call being a jerk face. We’re not talking about a whiskey sour here. We’re talking about signature cocktails that are created by and for a particular bar. Sure, Bar A can probably make it, but why would they want to? That’s like going to Burger King and ordering a Big Mac. Yeah, they can slip an extra bun in there and stir their condiments together to make “special sauce,” but come on. It’s just McMean of you to ask.
What to say instead: Do you have anything that’s like *describe the flavor/ingredients of the cocktail*?
The drink you don’t actually know
What you say: I’d like a vodka – cranberry neat please.
What the bartender hears: I don’t know what words mean.
No. Just shut up. Neat means right out of the bottle without ice or a mixer. You can’t have a vodka-cranberry neat any more than you can have a raw grilled cheese. Unless you’re the world’s biggest troll you’re essentially telling the bartender you have no idea what you’re talking about and leaving them to guess how to please you. They don’t like guessing. So if you try to sound cool by ordering a dirty martini extra dirty, you better drink down every last drop of that green, olive juicy mess. Remember, it’s OK to not know the terms. Just say what you want and the bartender will be happy to make it for you.
What to say instead: I’d like vodka with cranberry juice and no ice please.
The cheapest beer/liquor you’ve got
What you say: Gimme the cheapest beer you’ve got.
What the bartender hears: I intend on drinking as much as I possibly can and you’re going to have to deal with me afterward.
The difference in beer or even liquor prices at a bar isn’t going to be that noticeable, unless you’re talking about top shelf liquor versus a PBR. So when getting the absolute cheapest beer or well drink available you’d have to order three or four before you’d really see the value in the savings. Trust us on the drunk math here, we’re like Rain Man when it comes to booze. And we’re certainly not saying you can’t go for a PBR. It’s a fine beer. Just don’t base your drinking on how much you can physically imbibe for the least amount of money. If your goal is total inebriation as cheaply as possible, then pregame before you go out – like a respectable person.
What to say instead: Can I just get a beer, please? Whatever’s on tap is fine.
The most expensive scotch on the shelf
What you say: I want the absolute most expensive scotch you’ve got.
What the bartender hears: I won’t know the difference if you charge me $30 for a shot of Clan MacGregor.
If you know what you want, then order what you want. If you don’t know what you want, and are fine with spending money, then ask for a recommendation. Liquor, like wine or food, comes down to personal taste. Just because something is the most expensive doesn’t mean it’s going to be your favorite. So saying you want the most expensive thing is saying you don’t care about the flavor of the drink, you’re just trying to look cool. Any decent bartender will be able to help you decide. And if you end up going with the Macallan 25 then enjoy it. Just enjoy it for the absolutely incredible taste, not the price tag. P.S. Clan MacGregor is a fine scotch as well, and much more affordable.
What to say instead: Can you recommend a good quality scotch?
That one thing your friend made that time
What you say: Oh OK, so it’s like, got vodka in it and I think like gin or something but it’s served in a cube-shaped glass and has floating in it the sparkly tears of a unicorn’s deepest regret.
What the bartender hears: Wah wah wahwahwah wah wah wahwahwah.
Unless the bartender is the friend that made that drink that time, just don’t. This is a place of business, not a carnival game. The bartender isn’t going to win a stuffed animal for guessing right. And they’re probably going to stress about the whole process because they might assume their tip depends on accurately recreating an experience you had that they weren’t there for. Ever go on a first day and all they do is talk about their ex the whole time? Yeah. That’s you. That’s what you sound like.
What to say instead: *literally anything else*