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How to order a cocktail the way you want it?

I don't order cocktails typically when I go out to eat. I usually just order beer. Tonight I am going out to eat and I am in the mood for a cocktail. In the past I usually just order an Old Fashion or a Manhattan. I let the bartender make it their way and 9/10 I am dissapointed. I usually make about 6 Manhattans/old fashions a week for myself and I like it a specific way.

So is there a way to order a cocktail according to my way listed below and not come off as a picky jerk?

For example I like my manhattans as follows:
2 ounces of Bourbon
1/4 ounce of Sweet Vermouth
1/4 ounce of Dry Vermouth
cherry
Shake in a cocktail shaker and strain into a glass. Garnish with cherry.

When I order manhattans, it always comes on the rocks :(

Also I usually just drink cheap bourbon at home.

Is there usually a huge price difference between a house Manhattan and say a Jim Beam or Makers Mark Manhattan which imo are low to mid priced Bourbons?

EDIT: dash of bitters also
 
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Sure you can. A Manhattan with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth is called a Perfect Manhattan. If it's a real bartender he will know the difference and hook it up right. You can also specify shaken - not on the rocks and with a cherry "please". I wouldn't get into 2oz this, 1/4oz that or anything as this could be seen as offensive.

Of course, if you can go to the bar yourself to order it makes a huge difference. If you are talking about a cocktail from a local chain restaurant then you might just be SOL and better off with a beer.

Price of the booze will depend on where you live and where you are dining. On average it's usually $2.00 more for call or premium brands. Luxury brands if available will cost even more.

I don't order cocktails typically when I go out to eat. I usually just order beer. Tonight I am going out to eat and I am in the mood for a cocktail. In the past I usually just order an Old Fashion or a Manhattan. I let the bartender make it their way and 9/10 I am dissapointed. I usually make about 6 Manhattans/old fashions a week for myself and I like it a specific way.

So is there a way to order a cocktail according to my way listed below and not come off as a picky jerk?

For example I like my manhattans as follows:
2 ounces of Bourbon
1/4 ounce of Sweet Vermouth
1/4 ounce of Dry Vermouth
cherry
Shake in a cocktail shaker and strain into a glass. Garnish with cherry.

When I order manhattans, it always comes on the rocks :(

Also I usually just drink cheap bourbon at home.

Is there usually a huge price difference between a house Manhattan and say a Jim Beam or Makers Mark Manhattan which imo are low to mid priced Bourbons?
 
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You can ask a bartender to make a drink a certain way, but you'll get better results through positive reinforcement - compliment the drink, then suggest a small change on the next one to make it "even better".

But honestly, if you're going to be that high maintenance about it, just don't order that drink when you're out. You wouldn't tell the chef exactly how to prepare every detail of your meal, would you?
 

franz

Moderator Emeritus
I'd like a perfect Manhattan, shaken and served straight-up. Doesn't sound high-maintenance to me.
 
Ok I ordered two last night. I know a Perfect Manhattan is equal parts sweet and dry vermouth but last time I specified that to a bar tender they didn't know what the perfect part meant. Last night I said "I would like a Manhattan with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth shaken with a cherry. He actually was pretty good because he remembered to ask me if I want bitters which I always use but forgot to tell him. He then also asked me if I want it served straight-up which I did (I though shaken was served straight-up but I guess you can shake and then serve on the rocks).

I have purchased about 10 or so different Bourbons since I started getting into Manhattans and Old Fashions. They ranged from low end to mid priced. From my experience, $ amount didn't have much of an effect on how much I liked the taste or how bad of a hang over I may get.

So I stated that I would like just the house bourbon/ manhattan and I am not picky with the bourbon. Makers Mark was the lowest end they had so I just got that. Unfortunately it was $13 each which I was expecting maybe $8 each but oh well.
 
This is the reason I have to go to expensive places to get a quality cocktail. It just seems you have to nowadays. :( I have also changed what I order depending on where I go... for example:

Local bar: Beer
Average Restaurant: Vodka Martini straight up extra cold lemon twist
Nicer restaurant: Rye Manhattan, straight up extra cold
Nice Lounge: Sazzerac neat and cold
Expensive Restaurant: Ketel Martini straight up with 4 blue cheese stuffed olives extra cold with dirt on the side.

I always order with a smile and say please and thank you. I also learn the bartenders name and call them their name all the time. If they do me right I go back. :)
 
I hardly ever order "complicated" drinks at a bar or restaurant. It's unfortunate but few bartenders these days know what the proper terms mean (I fairly regularly have to explain what "neat" means to restaurant personnel) or how to make a proper cocktail. So I leave the more complicated cocktails for my own hands and either order something very simple (beer, G&T, bourbon neat, etc.).

If the bartender knows what he's doing and we have a moment to chat I'll usually let his creativity dictate the drink. So if I'm impressed with the bartender's skill and knowledge I'll tell him what I'm in the mood for like "I want something refreshing with rye whiskey but not too sweet" or "I've never had that particular type/brand of liquor there before, how do you recommend I try it?" and let him make something for me. Usually it comes out very well and I learn something. Sometimes I'll even order something off the cocktail menu if they have something that looks tasty (though those things are usually the refuge of cloyingly sweet vodka "tinis" of various neon varieties).
 

Acmemfg

Contributor
Ambassador
Wanna have some fun?? Find the most upscale bar in your neck of the woods. Order a "Vespers"...get ready for the doe in the headlights look. Visited the what is regarded to be the "BEST" martini bar in Atlanta (hardly a backwater environment). Bartender had NO clue....few do actually.
 
You guys need a cocktail bar in your neck of the woods... (upscale implies expensive and not necessarily good and in NYC means they can charge a lot for a Vodka Cranberry)
Ignore the fact that they're hipster-ey and thus sceney and you'll be rewarded with talented bar staff who know what they're doing (and are usually pretty nice about it, unlike the hipster stereotype)
 
This.

Much like my standard drink order when out with my wife - "I'd like a Bombay Sapphire martini; up, dry, with olives please."
I've found it pays to be redundant: "up, no ice". I got tired of waiters asking what "up" meant, or completely ignoring it and delivering things on the rocks. Perhaps that just shows the low-class national-chain places I go to.

BTW, I'm talking Manhattans here. I think a Martini will always come "up" without asking.
 
I have a set of cards with recipes on them, printed out 10/page on the printer and cut up with some scissors. They're just the right size to fit in my wallet. I'll just hand it to the waitress when I place the order "I'd like an X made like this". The waitress may look at me funny but I've never had one get offended. Often the bartender will come out with it to make sure it's made ok. One of the restaurants we go to fairly often now has my recipes entered in their computer, it comes out on the bill with my name on it "Mike's Sidecar" or whatever.
 
I usally sit at the bar and observe the bartender make my cocktails / drinks...always making polite positive comments (additions, deletions, extras ect...good cocktail = good tip), and then go to my table. :lol1:

Christopher
"[Having a drink],… is a [great], way of ending the day". Ernest Hemingway
 
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I have a set of cards with recipes on them, printed out 10/page on the printer and cut up with some scissors. They're just the right size to fit in my wallet. I'll just hand it to the waitress when I place the order "I'd like an X made like this".
.
50% of your drinks get spit in, guaranteed!
 
I have a set of cards with recipes on them, printed out 10/page on the printer and cut up with some scissors. They're just the right size to fit in my wallet. I'll just hand it to the waitress when I place the order "I'd like an X made like this". The waitress may look at me funny but I've never had one get offended. Often the bartender will come out with it to make sure it's made ok. One of the restaurants we go to fairly often now has my recipes entered in their computer, it comes out on the bill with my name on it "Mike's Sidecar" or whatever.
...wow...I'm surprised you even get served.
 

jwhite

Moderator Emeritus
I used to tend bar in nice independents, first if your not familiar with where to find a place that makes a decent cocktail at a decent price go to the courthouse square, in that square or within one block you will find a bar. In that establishment they will likely have long old bar with many, many bottles in plain view on the back bar, there is most likely a lot of old wood, the floor, the walls, the bar. That is where the lawyers, local pols, and their clerks drink. The bartenders there know what they are doing. There are exceptions but thats a pretty good general rule that hasn't let me down yet.

Second regarding specific drink instructions, if you're polite and tip well servers and bartenders have no problem whatsoever and will be happy to see you come in the door. If your pushy or a light tipper they will take care of those that aren't. The tip should reflect service, if you ask a lot you should give a lot. It makes the extra effort worthwhile for everyone involved. That is if your in a nice place, most there have that job because they are good at it, they are expected to be educated in the product the sell and they make decent money for their service and expertise.
 
I have a set of cards with recipes on them, printed out 10/page on the printer and cut up with some scissors. They're just the right size to fit in my wallet. I'll just hand it to the waitress when I place the order "I'd like an X made like this". The waitress may look at me funny but I've never had one get offended. Often the bartender will come out with it to make sure it's made ok. One of the restaurants we go to fairly often now has my recipes entered in their computer, it comes out on the bill with my name on it "Mike's Sidecar" or whatever.
When you order food, do you give the line cook your recipe too?
 
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