It varies by bar, drink, and time. I tried ordering Sazeracs for awhile but after a half-dozen blank stares or worse "Vodka or Gin?" I gave up altogether. Once I poached the card idea from this forum I just give them the Sazerac recipe card with the order; saves time, avoids confusion, and that way the bartender doesn't have to admit ignorance. Same with a sidecar, vesper or gimlet. For a whisky sour, old fashioned, or manhattan I'll go ahead and attempt the order; sometimes they know what it is, sometimes they don't and ask me at which point they get the recipe card. If they fail to make a satisfactory cocktail without the recipe (seltzer/olive in an old fashioned, vermouth-free martini) then I'll ask for alterations. There's only a half-dozen "classic" cocktails that seem to be widely known around here (old fashioned, whisky sour, gin&tonic, manhattan, bloody mary), anything else and you'll have to help them.Have I misunderstood? I thought you gave the card to the bartender along with your order. You did say in post #14, "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"."
Now you say that it is only after the bartender failed to make a satisfactory drink, or made it known that he/she had no idea how to make the drink and was not willing to check the recipe book or card file that most bars keep, that you resorted to the recipe card strategy.
I should probably also give an example of one of my recipe cards.
1 cointreau/grand marnier/triple sec
1 lemon juice
shaken, in an old-fashioned glass
This solves a number of problems besides the fundamental knowledge problem: There's no yelling out directions to the waitress over the noise, no worries that she might mishear something or forget part of it on the way back to the bar, and the bartender knows the acceptable substitutions without having to send the waitress back and forth.