Things You Should Never Order At A Bar

My first actual bartending job, other than picking up occasional shifts from the place where I was a waitress, was at an Irish pub a block outside of Times Square. Yes, that Times Square. The joint was always packed with visitors from around the world, and confusingly misguided locals (who perhaps were just there to hit on the visitors from around the world). '

The harsh judgement I relegated to my many patrons, however was not due to their country of origin, but rather to how they handled themselves in a bar. (And whether or not they asked me to change the music — though if you were a bearded guy, and had a Scottish accent, chances are I said yes.) Think you're the master of your bar domain? Check in to see if you're making any of these grievous bar-ordering faux pas.


Appletinis may have been all the rage in the 90s and the turn of the millennium, but I have news for you. They are out. Like, way out. Made with garishly (and artificially) colored green apple schnapps, appletinis are sugar bombs disguised as an adult beverage. Not often seen any longer on a bar's specialty menu, bars will begrudgingly keep the sticky ingredients on hand for people who just don't know how to drink (and talk about you as such when you're out of earshot).

Unless you stumble into a hipster joint that has found some way to elevate this drink to something ironically enjoyable, just don't do it.

Long Island iced teas

Here are the assumptions we make about you when you sidle up to a bar and order a Long Island iced tea. First, we assume the doorman did not properly check your ID, since you just ordered a drink that's the typical order of a 14- year-old trying to get served at his aunt's wedding. Also, we assume you're looking to get trashed, quickly and cheaply. Not exactly a combo we like sitting at our bar.

Worse are the people who don't realize what they are even ordering... so let's be clear. In a Long Island iced tea, you're getting every cheap, clear liquor from the bar's speed rail — vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and triple sec. Add to that a splash of cola, and some sour mix. That's it. Notice what it doesn't have? Iced tea. If you're that determined to get wasted, order a bourbon neat and a beer chaser. At least you'll look cool drinking it.

Bloody Marys

Is it brunch? Is it breakfast, and you're on vacation? Are you at a bar at the airport? Unless you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, it is not OK to order a Bloody Mary. Don't get me wrong, I adore a good Bloody Mary. The horseradish... the celery salt... wondering what inventive garnish I may get (I got a strip of bacon once!).

But I know that even a restaurant that makes the best Bloody Marys in town only has the correct mix fresh and ready to go during the brunch and breakfast hours. Order it at any other time, and you're getting that God-awful Mr. & Mrs. T's pre-made Bloody Mary mix they give you in cans on airplanes, or you're getting an annoyed bartender who's wondering what would possess a person to order a Bloody Mary during Happy Hour.

Frozen mudslides, daiquiris, and coladas

Do me, yourself, and anyone who will ever come to know you a favor, and learn this one rule about going to a bar. Unless you see it buzzing and swirling around in a colorful machine behind the bartender's head, for the love of Christmas, do not order a frozen drink. Ever. Expecting your bartender to bust out an entire kitchen appliance to make you an alcohol smoothie that will be loaded with everything under the sun EXCEPT for fresh fruit is the height of bar-going bad etiquette.

If the bartender at your local bar has been telling you the blender is "broken" for the past two years, and you're wondering why they don't get around to fixing it, believe me, it's not them, it's you.


I'm not saying you should never order a mojito. If you're in a Latin American restaurant, or a bar that proudly boasts on their specialty cocktail menu that they have mojitos to offer, then by all means, have at it. What I am saying, however, is that if you're in any other kind of establishment, you just can't assume that a bar is going to have the correct ingredients on hand to make a mojito.

To make a mojito properly, a bartender needs superfine sugar, loads of fresh limes, and fresh mint. They also need a special muddling tool to mash up all those things into your glass, which they will top off with white rum and club soda. If you insist on being one of those people who insist the bartender just make you "something as close to a real mojito" as they can, be ready to get a rum and Sprite with a lime in it.

Blue Hawaiians

When I had just turned 21, my senior year of college in Boston, all I knew about drinking was warm keg beer, boxed white zinfandel, and a purple alcoholic grape soda called Purple Passion that our local bodega was willing to sell us. Even though I had been working in restaurants since I was 16, ordering from a bartender was a bewildering experience, and I settled this dilemma by deciding I should pick one cocktail and stick with it. For some bizarre reason only my therapist could decipher, I settled on Blue Hawaiians.

The Blue Hawaiian's mix of blue curacao, rum, pineapple juice, and sweetened coconut cream was deceptively sweet, and it screamed "I only just became old enough to do this, and I am scared." Sub any other sickly sweet, cutesy named drink in here. Fuzzy Navels, Sex on the Beach, Sloe Comfortable get the idea. A good rule of thumb? When a drink calls for juices that don't appear on that bar's regular menu, don't order it.

In my later bartending days, when I saw the brown color of the pineapple juice that came out of those teeny cans kept in deep storage in the basement for who-knows how long, my stomach churned thinking of all those Blue Hawaiians I consumed in college.

Ridiculous shots

Are you over the age of 25? Are you at a bachelorette party? Are you in Vegas? No? Then the only acceptable shot for you to order is a shot of whiskey, or a shot of decent tequila. Good tequila will not require you to suck on lime and salt, so don't ask. Chase it with a beer, or a slightly sweet cocktail if you must.

If you really are craving those Lemon Drops, Kamikazes, B-52s, or flaming shots named after various sex acts and parts of the female anatomy, I would suggest you book a flight on Jet Blue, or buy yourself some light-up bridal bling. What's that? You want to know if you can do a body shot on my bar? Sure, just hold on while I get my baseball bat...

"Whatever's cheapest"

Look, I get it, you're out for a night with your friends, and you need to stick to a budget. That's fair. But you don't exactly want to scream out "I don't plan to tip you." So let me help you out here. The cheapest drinks in a bar are going to be the domestic (American) beers in a can or on tap. Next up we have the well drinks — that's the cheapest basic booze behind the bar, mixed with soda. We might charge you more for the juice mixers, depending on the bar.

A better question to ask the bartender is "do you have any drink specials?" Your barkeep will understand you are looking for a good value, and might direct you to the PBR cans and a shot of whiskey special, or perhaps a specific liquor brand is running a promotion for the night.

One trick I use when trying to not drink too much is to ask for a mixed drink, like a vodka and soda, in a tall glass. I'm not requesting more alcohol, just more soda water so my drink lasts longer. No matter what you order, though, it's NEVER acceptable to not tip, and you should tip per drink. So figure that into your budget, and really dig into those couch cushions before you head out for the evening.

"Whatever's strongest"

Dude, if you want a strong drink, order, and pay for, a double. That advice is going out to everyone who requests we make a drink stronger, but doesn't want to pay more for it. If you know perfectly well that you want a Long Island iced tea, but think you're too cool to order it, suck it up.

If you really need that much alcohol in one glass, order a dry martini (both gin and vodka are acceptable), and sip it like a gentleman. Or maybe a Manhattan. Manhattans are sexy, and show us you are confident enough to pull off a drink with a cherry in it. You know what else is strong? Neat, or straight-up alcohol — either description lets your bartender know that you don't want ice, though the latter more accurately describes a drink that's been chilled, then poured without its ice.

In short, learn how an adult drinks, tip well and often, and make sure you've got the Uber app handy on your phone.