*Recent ruminations from the ladies of LUPEC, originally published in the Weekly Dig.
by Pink Lady
Look at you, you savvy cocktailian. We are so proud to see so many Bostonian drinkers belly up to the bar, empowered by knowledge they’ve culled from books and websites about the history of the drink. What a joy to banter about bitters with guests rather than guide them through our “martini” list looking for the perfect vodka cocktail.
As you get more and more cocktail savvy it’s important to remember manners and etiquette as you order. Remember, the line between educated ordering and pretension can be paper-thin. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while on the boozing trail:
1. Order politely and with humility. Bar managers work hard to cultivate cocktail lists that blend interesting classics with house-developed originals. The former may have been sourced from the pages of old cocktail tomes, vintage marketing leaflets, their favorite bar in Burma, or God knows where. The latter could be made with house-made syrups, bitters, or other ingredients which you won’t find on every bar. If you try a drink that really knocks your socks off, do yourself a favor and learn the recipe so you can order it precisely when out at another bar. Teach a man to fish versus give a man a fish and all that.
2. When ordering an off the menu special, be precise and patient. If you know your drink is simply a variation on a recipe the barkeep may already know, consider ordering it in the most obvious terms and revealing its special name after its in the glass. You could order “A Margarita, San Francisco style,” potentially confusing your bartender. Or, you could tell your busy barkeep that you’d like your Margarita with agave syrup in place of other sweetener. What would you rather hear while trying to push drinks out quickly at a crowded bar?
3. If ordering bartender’s choice, you’re ordering bartender’s choice. You’ve made your choice to not decide on a drink. If it’s not exactly what you wanted after the first few sips, remember whose idea it was to roll the dice. A good bartender will surely be happy to make you something else if you’re less than thrilled with your cocktail. But having him or her make several drinks in a row when you originally indicated you trust them enough to “make whatever they want” completely defeats the purpose. Roll the dice only if you’re in the mood for mysterious adventure.
4. Tip generously. If you’re going to be a cocktailian, tip like one: twenty percent of the tab, no less. If you order “bartender’s choice…with grapefruit, Cynar, maybe some lemon but nothing too sweet,” do bear in mind the creativity comes with composing your specified drink on the fly, especially if the bar is four people deep. In any scenario, a dollar a drink is most likely not enough; in this one, it’s a huge bummer. The kindest way to thank a bartender for their generous hospitality is to show your appreciation for their hard work by tipping them well.
Nice work, cocktailian. And if you want to really endear yourself to your favorite bartender when they’re in the weeds, order one of these.
BEER & A SHOT (a.k.a. BOILERMAKER)
Beer: It should be your beer if choice, commonly PBR, Miller High Life, or Narangannsett in Boston. Some LUPEC members are also fans of Bud Light Lime. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve try it.
Shot: Black, green, or brown, meaning Fernet, Chartreuse, or Jameson. Or whatever else you fancy. And maybe buy one for the bartender while you’re at it.