How To Order Drinks At The Bar Without Embarrassing Yourself


  • Save yourself a seat! If you are ever at a crowded bar or restaurant, you can place your coaster on top of your drink to indicate that you are coming back.

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Stick to the Basics

There’s a lot of information to take in when you research, though. There are a number of different types of beers to choose from, depending on how they’re fermented, at what temperature they’re brewed and so on. Same with wine. Wine types vary depending on the grape, region and method.

It’s all very interesting, but in this post, we’re just trying to get you through ordering a drink. So here are a few basics to ask for.

  • Ciders: Ciders are fermented with yeast like beer but made with fruit like wine. They’re good if you don’t like the taste of beer or wine and they’re typically pretty sweet. Strongbow and Somersby are two popular options most bars will likely have in stock.
  • IPAs: India Pale Ales typically have a more “hoppy” taste because they’re made with more hops. If you’re not used to them, they will probably taste pretty intense and bitter to you, and a lot of people say it’s an acquired taste. They have become popular with the craft beer trend, so wherever you go, chances are, they have some decent IPAs you can order. Feral War Hog IPA and Gage Roads Sleeping Giant are two popular brands.
  • Wheat Beer: Wheat beers are easier to drink and typically don’t have a strong “beer taste”. Hefeweizens and witbiers are subtypes of wheat beers and they get their names from small differences in how they’re brewed. Popular brands include Blue Moon and White Rabbit.
  • Merlot: It’s one of the most popular red wines for a reason. It’s easy to drink. As Vinepair points out, Merlots are often described as “juicy with flavours of chocolate and cherry”.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: A lot of wine snobs balk at Merlot because it’s too basic. They prefer Cabernet instead because it has a more aggressive, aged flavour. If you’re not a wine person, it might be an acquired taste.
  • CC and dry, or gin and tonic: This is pretty standard. You’ll get Canadian Club (or other whiskey) with dry ginger ale or gin with tonic water. The formula is basically liquor plus fizzy drink. You can swap this out with pretty much any alcohol. If you want a specific brand of alcohol, make sure to let them know, otherwise, they will assume you want the well. Beyond dry, you could also order your booze with soda or tonic water. The Kitchn explains the differences here.
  • Martini: If you’re going to order a martini, be prepared to let the bartender know if you what gin or vodka. Traditionally, they’re made with gin. They might also ask you if you want it dry. Dry just means they add less vermouth, which makes the drink a little more bitter. Want more vermouth? Ask for it “wet”. They might ask if you want it shaken in a cocktail shaker or just stirred. According to Business Insider, stirred usually results in a smoother drink. That covers the basics, but they have more martini-ordering tips here.

If you order a mixed drink with alcohol, they might ask what brand you want. Vinepair has a fun, interactive chart of the most popular liquors in the world, broken up by whiskey, vodka, rum, liqueur, tequila and cognac. You can also just ask the bartender or a friend for any recommendations, or when in doubt, just say you’re fine with the well, which is usually the cheapest brand.

Of course, no matter what drink you order, drink snobs are always quick to tell you shouldn’t have ordered that and suggest an alternative. You can politely nod and smile or take them up on it and try something new — you never know what you might like.

Best DrinksToOrder At A Bar

These drinks are considered classic for a reason and will never go out of style. Here are ten of the best ones to order: 

  • Cosmopolitan  
  • Moscow Mule 
  • Old Fashioned 
  • Whiskey Sour 
  • Sidecar 
  • Mint Julep 
  • Martini 
  • Manhattan 
  • Negroni 
  • Mojito 

Don’t forget to request your drink be made with Bogue Sound liquor. We promise the bartender won’t mind.  

Here is a list of bars and restaurants that stock our liquor. 

Bar etiquette

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Hanging over the bar with a visible $20 bill in your hand to get your bartender’s attention is a great trick in the clubs, but it’s not necessary now that you’re a grown up. If you want our attention, and you weren’t able to score a bar stool, simply stand at the bar and aim for eye contact. A small wave of the hand is acceptable if we’ve honestly missed seeing you, or you are under five and a half feet tall. If the bar is busy, know what you want when we arrive. Legitimate questions are acceptable, but hemming and hawing about what to order is not. Have a plan B if we don’t have what you asked for. And please, don’t try to order from the bar back. He’s the guy carrying the kegs and clearing glasses. Have a little patience, and wait for me to get to you.

Getting The Bartenders Attention

For starters, waving money, snapping fingers, or (cringe) yelling is not the answer here.  As in most of life, a modicum of decency and respect goes a long way.  Make your way to a place at the bar where you can be seen.  Don’t stand behind five other guys on your tip toes trying to see what’s going on.  Then, with a smile on your face, attempt to make eye contact with the bartender.  If you will be ordering for more than just yourself, have enough money in your hand to indicate so, but please don’t wave it.  You’re not the only guy with $60 in his pocket.  Whatever the case, be prepared to order when the bartender gives you their attention.  Don’t be yelling back to your date or group asking what they want.

Other Less Needed Terms

Back – To have a “back” of something means something to follow a drink, also called a chaser.  When you order a Maker’s Mark neat you may want a “back of water” to sip between sips of the whiskey.

Dirty – Pertains typically to Martinis, and means that olive brine is added to the Martini.

Dry, Very Dry – Refers to the amount of Vermouth in a cocktail, specifically a Martini.  Dry has some vermouth, and Very Dry has almost none.

Olives, Onions, Twists – When ordering a Martini you should specify if you want Olives, Cocktail Onions (and how many…”2 onions please”) or a Twist, which is just the peel of the lemon.  For other drinks you can specify a Lemon or Lime, which means you will get a wedge, or a Twist.


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This all encompassing name includes a number of bottles from behind the bar, including Irish whiskies, American whiskies, blended and single malt Scotch whiskies, rye whiskies, and American bourbon. The range of prices can really run the gamut from the cheapest hooch, to high-end, business expense-account type stuff. If you tell me you just want a “whiskey,” I am going to assume you want some kind of a cheap to mid-range American whiskey, and I will want to know if you want it neat (no ice,) on the rocks, or with water (a splash is added). If you want a glass of water or a beer on the side, say you want “a water back.” Whiskies, ryes, and bourbons, are what Manhattans are typically made with, so if you order one, we are going to ask you what specific liquor you want.


Martinis are alcoholic drinks made with either vodka or gin. There are many different kinds of martinis, but many martinis also contain another kind of alcohol called vermouth(9). 

Depending on the type of martini you order, there could be fruit, lemon twists, or even olives inside. A dirty martini is a blend(10) of alcohol and olive juice. The dirtier the martini, the more olive juice is used. 

Dry martini

 A dry martini means adding less vermouth. This will make the martini more bitter. 

Wet martini

A wet martini means adding more vermouth, which will make the drink taste smoother. 

I am no expert on martinis, but since they vary so much, you will likely have to keep experimenting to find out what matches your taste. 

HowToOrder Vodka and Gin

When placing a drink order that is made with vodka or gin make sure you specify which top-shelf liquor you would like. Otherwise, your drink will typically be made with a low-quality liquor typically kept on the speed rail.  

If ordering a martini, be prepared to answer how you would like that made (e.g. dirty? Shaken?) 

Hard Alcohol 

Hard alcohol can be more complicated to order because there are so many options. You have straight liquor, house blends, and cocktails. First, know what kind of drink you want, but if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Bartenders are professionals, and they are generally happy to share their knowledge with you. 

This blog won’t go into the specifics of every kind of alcohol, but you should learn a few terms that can make ordering liquor a little easier. 


let’s say you want to order a whiskey neat. That means there will be no ice, no chaser (we will cover this word soon), and the alcohol is served at room temperature. 

A neat drink is literally just straight alcohol. 

Ex. Can I get a whiskey neat, please? 

On the Rocks

If you order your drink on the rocks, it means your alcohol will have ice in it. The alcohol will be served over ice, which not only cools the drink down but can also bring out flavors in complex alcohols like whiskey and scotch(6). 

Ex. Can I get some rum on the rocks, please? 

Top Shelf

Top shelf refers to expensive, high-quality liquors. If you have a little extra cash or only want to drink the best of the best, you can order something from the top shelf. 

Ex. What top-shelf vodkas do you have? 

Ex. I would like some top-shelf vodka, please. 

Bar Etiquette NO-NOs Series

Although the following videos are meant to be a little ‘tongue in cheek’ funny, they represent real situations that happen with customers at every bar around the world. Remember that we’re not hating on you for being this guy or girl, we’re just trying to educate you on how to order drinks at a bar properly so that you and the bartenders can have an enjoyable night.


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