Useful Drink Snobbery

Laneia’s Team Pick:

If you’re a fan of bars and drinks, How to Order a Proper Drink at Any Bar, Anywhere might be relevant to your life.

Ordering a drink that isn’t listed on a bar’s drink menu — if the bar even has a menu — is less a question of etiquette and more one of metaphysics. It’s not rude to order the wrong drink at a bar, but you’ll still look like an asshole. Most bartenders are willing to accommodate whatever the customer orders, but as Jackson Cannon, bar manager at Eastern Standard in Boston, told me, “it may be a disaster.”

You’ll learn where it’s safe to order a Vieux Carre (I don’t even know), and where you should just stick with a vodka tonic. I feel like one day, when I’m fancy, this kind of information will be priceless.

Are you good at ordering drinks? How do you feel about cocktails in general? What’s your favorite? Or we could just talk about whiskey some more.

this is not fancy, tequila cat. not fancy at all.

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lnj has written 310 articles for us.


  1. I thought I was a ‘Foolproof Classics’ kind of drinker, until I got to:

    “Shoot low here: You may think everyone should know how to make a Sidecar, but that’s just a sign that you are spoiled.”

    Ooooops. Now I feel like a brat.

    • Fun story: a friend of mine tried to order a sidecar from a dive bar in SF and it took the bartenders about 15 minutes of arguing amongst each other on how to make it before she got her drink.

      Don’t feel like a brat, I order midori sours and I get the side-eye every time I do.

    • That feeling of paralyzed at a bar once you’ve realized everything on their top shelf is untenable.

  2. I have been to so many of the bars they mentioned! I feel like I’m famous except actually I just have a poor understanding of appropriate spending behavior!

  3. Vieux Carre is my favorite drink on the planet. Hands down. Game over. Although I have only been able to order it at one place but that is probably because I haven’t been trying hard enough. :/

  4. Helpful things!

    Also, this is why I pretty much always end up ordering gin & tonics when I go to new bars — I don’t ever go anywhere fancy enough that that would seem like too boring of a drink, and it’s so simple that it’s kind of impossible to fuck up. Plus, I’m a tried-and-true kind of lady.

    (Also, being in the situation of being asked by a bartender how to make the drink I just ordered always makes me unbelievably uncomfortable, even though it maybe shouldn’t, so I try to avoid that at all costs.)

  5. The Vieux Carré exists somewhere in the wonderful space between an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan but with more ingredients than both put together. I’ve only been to one bar where I would order a Ramos Gin Fizz rather than first making sure that the bar was at least half empty and then asking for one in a way that makes clear I’m perfectly okay with being told no. I’m going to get to PDT one day, as soon as I have some excuse to go to New York.

  6. THANK YOU FOR THIS LINK. I can never go to bars because I get so insanely nervous that I’m going order something that isn’t on the menu, and then I’m going to look like that person that has never had a single alcoholic beverage (which is mostly true).

  7. Screwdrivers are my bar drink of choice unless it’s a cocktail bar with a menu that is acceptable to pore over for a while. But a lot of the time at bars, you go in, you go to order, and you have to know RIGHT THEN what you want and what’s available. And screwdrivers are pretty much always there. Also it sounds cool when you order it, even though it’s so absurdly simple.

  8. Bartended my way through college at the Jersey Shore (the place..Not the show..No really..IT’S A REAL FREAKIN’ PLACE!) Every other week chicks would come in and order shit I never heard of and couldn’t find in any mixer book..Made me batshit crazy..Especially when they couldn’t tell me what was in it..I used to offer to comp them the first drink or make-out with them if they ordered something else…Sometimes they even took the free drink!

      • Rutgers, actually…Bartended weekends in Asbury..Sometimes Belmar…But I did wake up face down in a gutter at Monmouth once..Ok..More than once..

        • hahah ohhh Monmouth parties in those houses in Deal…ridic.
          I love asbury-i mostly go to the annex or johnny macs, occasionally Georgies (gotta love the wood paneling..and avoid the clique hoarding the pool table lol)

          • Georgie’s..The gay “Cheers” of Asbury Park..Except you’re really hoping NOBODY knows your name! And yes..Avoid the pool table crowd!

  9. I love cocktails! They’re like candy for grown ups.

    When in doubt I usually order a vodka and cranberry, because it’s pretty hard to fuck up, and tastes good when it’s strong or weak. Kamikazes are great, the shooter or the cocktail. Lemondrops are wonderful.

  10. I am still on the cheap beer stage of drinking, that and shot. sometimes vodka. but I’ll pass this along to my sister, who I think will actually appreciate it.

  11. been searching the “vieux carré” drink:

    – Pour the whiskey, Cognac and vermouth into an old-fashioned glass half-filled with ice.
    – Add the bitters.
    – Add the Benedictine then stir four times with a silver spoon.
    – Squeeze the lemon over the drink then drop it into the glass.

    “Stir four times with a silver spoon”

    so if someone did five, Snape’ll be pissed hehe

    • it sounds really tasty, but by the time i needed to make the third one, i’d be so over this procedure / probably just stop at “pour the whiskey.”

      • Yep! Well i guess you could make a lot at once and then just serve it? No? I don’t know… I’ll just have a beer! :-D

    • This conversation sums up so many of the reasons I love autostraddle. Nerds who love women. Female-identified persons who love women and whiskey. Yes.

  12. Now I want a “vieux carré”… whatever that it, i want it! I trust you guys!… Im more of a rum lady! That and beer… :-D Im a cheap date now that i think about it! xD xD xD

  13. My go-to cocktail for ordering at bars is a Negroni. Delicious and difficult to fuck up. I also really like Boulevardiers, which are basically Negronis with whiskey in place of gin (and I love whiskey!).
    But now I feel like a bad cocktail snob for never having heard of a Vieux Carre before…

    • The Negroni is one of my favourite cocktails of all time. OF ALL TIME.

      But once I ordered one and the person I was drinking with thought I was some kind of white supremacist. Since then I have been a little insecure about asking for one.

  14. Ordering off menu is so stressful for me, so I just go for simple drinks that hard to mess up like vodka tonic or jack and coke.

  15. We have whiskey kitten and tequila kitten, a couple more alcoholic kitties and we’ll have the autostraddle family alcohol kittens (like the Von Trap family singers, but kittens and alcohol). All we need is vodka kitten, gin kitten, and pretentious beer kitten to fill out the ranks.

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