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How to Order Drinks like a Bartender

If you get looks of exasperation whenever you stammer out a drink order, take this crash course in bar-speak.


  • Step 1: Learn this neat terminology Learn the correct terms to specify your drink's temperature. Ordering it "neat" means the liquor will be served right out of the bottle, at room temperature. Ask for it "on the rocks" and it will be poured over ice. Order it "straight up" and the liquor will come at whatever temperature is customary, with no ice.
  • Step 2: Make it a double To get two shots of alcohol in your drink, as opposed to the standard one shot pour, ask the bartender to "make it a double."
  • Step 3: Get something back Want a glass of water or a beer with your drink? Request the shot with a "water back" or "beer back."
  • Step 4: Liquor comes first When ordering a mixed drink, always name the liquor first, as in, "a scotch and soda, please."
  • Step 5: Name your brand If you want a specific brand of liquor, say so, as in, "a Kettle One and tonic." This is known as a "call drink." If you don't name a brand, you'll get a "well drink" made with the bar's default liquor, most often a cheaper bottle.
  • TIP: Naming an expensive brand of liquor makes your drink "premium" or "top-shelf," and you'll pay a steeper price.
  • Step 6: Adjust the measurements If you want just a bit of mixer, ask for a "splash," as in, "scotch with a splash of soda." Want more juice or soda in your drink? Put "tall" in front of your drink order; the drink will have the same amount of booze, but will have more mixer because it will be served in a taller glass.
  • Step 7: Request extras If you'd like a piece of lemon or lime peel in the drink, order it "with a twist."
  • Step 8: Leave a tip Leave a tip. A generous one makes up for any boneheaded ordering.
  • FACT: Nearly fifty percent of bartenders polled said that customers order fewer, but stronger, drinks during a recession.

You Will Need

  • A grasp of liquor and cocktail terminology

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