Do you ever feel self-conscious when ordering a drink at a bar, afraid the bartender is judging you for your decision? While they’re probably just focused on how to make your order, it turns out, there are some drinks that the pros would never order when they’re out. Some they avoid unless it’s something the bar specializes in, others are just a pain to make, especially when the bar is packed.
According to Daniel Yoem, general manager of Esters Wine Shop & Bar in Santa Monica, California, the key is to “read the room.” That amazing drink you had at a fancy cocktail lounge isn’t going to be a great choice at a dive bar and if the bar is really busy, you don’t want to take up too much of the bartender’s time with a complicated drink.
These are some of the drinks bartenders say they won’t order themselves:
- Wine at a dive bar - The thing is, you don’t know how long that wine’s been open and the flavor of the wine starts to degrade pretty much right after the bottle is opened, so why take a chance?
- Draft beer at a dive bar - Stick with a bottle at these places, beer drinkers, because you can’t know when the draft system was last cleaned. Yoem warns, “It can be really nasty in there with fruit flies and gunk.”
- Long Island Iced Tea - For starters, this drink contains a ton of ingredients, the official recipe from the International Bartenders Association calls for gin, vodka, white rum, tequila, triple sec and lemon juice, simple syrup and a splash of cola. So they take a long time to make, plus, they tend to be a drink for folks who don’t care what it tastes like. Bartenders don’t love making them and Lauren Lenihan, director of operations for Paris Café and Common Ground Bar in New York City, says “No bartenders ever order a Long Island Iced Tea.”
- Guinness on a busy night - Draft beer is generally an easy drink to make, but a pint of Guinness takes a long time to pour, if it’s done correctly.
- Espresso martinis at a bar that doesn’t have great coffee - Most bars don’t have a good espresso machine and many opt for a variation instead of the fresh espresso shot in the classic recipe. Unless you know what the coffee used is, skip this cocktail.
- Margaritas at a place that doesn’t specialize in them - The standard margarita is just tequila, lime juice and triple sec, but some bars swap the lime juice for sour mix or make alterations, so you may not want to take your chances.