How to Order Drinks Like a Pro
Sips of wisdom on the most popular libations.
➻ Fresh-squeezed juice is critical when it comes to a Mule. Bar Rev includes it—and adds spicy ginger beer for a kick.
➻ Copper mugs are little more than a marketing ploy; they won’t improve the flavor of your drink. Libertine serves its version in a Tom Collins glass.
➻ Vodka is the most popular base, but you have other options. Tini’s signature Kentucky Mule with Maker’s Mark sips easily on a summer night.
➻ James Bond’s preference notwithstanding, a shaken martini often arrives watered-down. Stirred with a twist of lemon, vermouth, and bitters is best—and is the “only true martini,” according to the ’tenders at Thunderbird.
➻ Order one “dry,” and your bartender will probably seek to clarify your request. “Dry” indicates dry vermouth, and that doesn’t pair well with olives, which are common in the drink.
➻ In fact, skip the olives. It turns a martini into a saline bath, killing any botanicals from the spirit. If you must have a garnish and you’re feeling adventurous, try a jalapeño martini from the Tick Tock Lounge.
➻ A dry rose appeals to almost everyone, and it expands the palate. Tinker Street’s 2013 Liquid Geography Rose is a good place to start.
➻ Sometimes it makes sense to try a wine on the list that doesn’t seem to fit—the one with a hard-to-pronounce name or a location that seems out of place. Those often were pulled onto the menu for a reason. Plow & Anchor’s delicious Luberri Seis from Spain is a great example.
➻ Bottles opened for glass sales can sit for days, and they don’t age gracefully. Buying a bottle is usually worth it.
➻ Although it’s the classic cocktail’s signature ingredient, make sure you understand what Campari is before ordering it. The liqueur is an acquired taste—dry, bitter, and herbaceous.
➻ The base of a Negroni doesn’t change much, but the inclusion of interesting vermouths is a good indication your bartender knows what he’s doing. North End BBQ serves up one with a coffee-infused sweet vermouth.
➻ Expect to see a lot more of these around town, especially with the opening of The Pioneer, by J.B. Andrews of Bluebeard, this summer. The Fountain Square restaurant will feature a sous-vide method of infusing house Negronis.
➻ Though it’s a broad category, the fresh-juiced daiquiris, Mai Tais, and punches that fall under the beach umbrella of “tiki drinks” are back in vogue.
➻ Two things often left out of these that shouldn’t be are absinthe and bitters. For its version, Bluebeard coats a glass with a spray of the former to get just a hint of the liquor.
➻ Tiki drinks often call for blending two rums, but that’s not the only way to do things. The Ball & Biscuit’s Caribbean Whip uses only dark Plantation 5-Year rum with chocolate bitters.
➻ The classic is served a number of ways. Up (no ice) or on the rocks. In a cocktail glass or in a lowball. Just don’t order one “neat.” (That means no preparation. There’s no such thing.)
➻ Famous for Manhattans, the Red Key Tavern didn’t serve them with bitters for years. Now it does, and a slice of orange is the crowning gem.
➻ A standard Manhattan comes with rye whiskey, like Plat 99’s house choice of Redemption Rye from Lawrenceburg. Make sure to request bourbon instead if you prefer a little sweetness.