You don’t have to read Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide end to end or memorize 100 cocktail recipes to look like you know what you’re talking about at a bar. You just have to know what to order. If you want to give your bartender the impression that you’re a bonafide cocktail geek—without coming off as pretentious—here are seven cocktails to order that make you look like you know what you’re doing.
7 Drinks That Make You Look Like You Know What You’re Doing in a Bar
It’s not a Manhattan, nor is it a Sazerac—it’s somewhere in between. This New Orleans classic is an order that shows class and character. A word to the wise: If you’re not able to pronounce it correctly with assured confidence, you’ll come across as if you’re ordering it just because you read it on some list. Say it with us: view kah-ray.
It’s the Negroni’s lighter, refreshingly citrusy, pink cousin that’s as esoteric as it is delicious. If you order this variation on the classic Italian aperitif it shows that you have the knowlege to order something a little more unusual than the standard fare—and your bartender doesn’t need to run to the liquor store to make it.
fresh lemon juice
Not only does this sparkling gin-lemonade have serious chops (it first appeared in one of the greatest, most important cocktail tomes of all time, Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide), it’s simple to construct and downright chuggable. The Tom Collins is like a Vodka Soda for grown-up drinkers.
This Brazilian staple is like a Mojito with big kid shoes on—and no mint. While muddling is still involved in the process, it’s not as ostentatious as its herbal, Caribbean cousin. Ordering this drink shows that you’re down for funky, obscure new spirits (caçhaca deserves love too) and that you know that ordering Mojitos pisses off bartenders.
Forget the Margarita or the Moscow Mule, ask your bartender for this devilishly good concoction instead. Found in the classic tiki tome, Trader Vic’s Bartender's Guide, the El Diablo is like a Moscow Mule on steroids (or, more appropriately, tequila). Made with peppery tequila, lime juice and spicy, effervescent ginger beer, this call is a total curveball for even the most knowledgeable bartenders. If it’s a respectable bar, they should have crème de cassis on the shelf—and of course know how to use it.
Crème de cassis
This deep cut has everything you want from a cocktail and it’s a bartender favorite, so they’ll appreciate you ordering it. Essentially the love child of a Gimlet and a Hemingway Daiquiri, the Last Word is face puckering-ly sour, refreshing and herbal all at once. Added bonus: The recipe is made with equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur and lime juice, so it’s a breeze for your bartender to make.
Skip the Martini and Fernet shots—instead, opt for this lost classic. Like a Perfect Martini that’s gone completely dark and bitter, the Hanky Panky is made with gin, sweet vermouth and a touch of Fernet Branca in place of dry vermouth. If you can pull this cocktail out of your drink memory bank, bartenders will undoubtedly be impressed. In fact, you might have to remind them on how to mix one.