Making drinks for a living teaches you a thing or two about ordering them. The most important key to being a great bar patron is awareness. When bartenders go out drinking, we are hyper-aware of our surroundings. Depending on the bar and the level of crowdedness, we adjust our drink order accordingly. There are also a few drinks no self-respecting bartender would ever order.
1. A Martini when a bar is standing-room-only
The Martini is a classic for a reason: it is a quintessential cocktail, and most bartenders know exactly how they like theirs made. But there is a time and a place for Martinis. A crowded bar that’s three-deep on a Saturday night is not the time or place. Half the Martini is going to spill when the bartender has to reach across a line of patrons to hand off your drink. The other half is going to spill when a stranger jostles past trying to make it to the bathroom. You should be sitting at a bar or table if you want to order any drink served in a Martini glass.
2. Complicated cocktails when the bar is slammed
Like with the Martini situation, this is a matter of time and place. As bartenders, if we see another bartender in the weeds, we’ll switch our cocktail order to a beer or get the same drink as a friend to make it as easy as possible on the person working. We’ve all been there, and it feels like drowning. If we are really craving that cocktail, we may order it anyway, but we will always communicate to the bartender to take their time. It’s karma!
3. Long Island Iced Tea
Okay, no one should be ordering this one, but if you are just looking to get drunk as quickly as possible, overproof rum Daiquiris will do the trick and be way more delicious.
4. Espresso Martinis
Begrudgingly we will admit that Espresso Martinis taste good. But any drink that requires a barista and a bartender is a no-go in our book. Plus, the combination of booze, caffeine, and sugar is essentially a hangover in a fancy glass.
5. Novelty shots
Bartenders do a lot of shots. Hell, shots of Fernet-Branca are even known as the “bartender’s handshake.” But one thing we never order are novelty shots, i.e. lemon drops, kamikazes or anything with a lewd name. Outside of college bars, most bartenders don’t even know the recipes for said “cocktails.”
6. Draft beer at a dive bar
Draft lines should be cleaned every 2-6 weeks by a professional and tap nozzles should be soaked in sanitizing solution, not just water, overnight. If not, bacteria can develop, and that pint of beer can taste dirty or musky. If you question the cleanliness of the bar, stick to bottled beers. And try to avoid wine or fancy cocktails. A dive bar is the ideal place for a can of that cheap beer you drank in college. And maybe a shot of cheap liquor.
7. Happy hour wine
Bartenders aren’t big on happy hours. First off, we are usually working them. Second, if we are going out to drink, we want what we want. Happy hour specials, especially wine, are whatever is cheapest and easiest for the bar. When you can drink for free whenever you want, you’d rather pay $5 extra for that nicer glass of wine.