In a perfect world, every bartender would know what a Sazerac is, how to correctly garnish an Old Fashioned with an orange twist and that a Martini should never be shaken (unless specifically requested). But, sadly, we do not live in a perfect world. If you enter a dive bar where the bartender’s main mixology skill is cracking the tops off bottles of beer, don’t try to order the best cocktail, but instead order the right cocktail. Here are a few of those right cocktails that any bartender should be able to make.
6 Cocktails That Are Safe to Order at Any Dive Bar
The Cuba Libre—or a “rum and coke with a splash of lime” in dive bar lingo—is a solid drink order for a couple of reasons. First, it’s hard to screw up since all the ingredients are included in the order. Second, it’s easy to fix if the bartender does happen to screw it up. Too Coke-y? Ask the bartender to (please) add a splash more rum to your drink. Too rummy? Top it off with an extra hit of cola. Any bartender who likes a good tip (all of them) will be happy to oblige.
Another easy cocktail, which essentially details the recipe in the name, the G&T is a great drink even at its worst. Gin? Good. Tonic? Good—even out of a gun. Lime? Bonus, if your bar of choice boasts fresh garnishes.
The Mimosa’s edgier brother, the Screwdriver is a simple mix of orange juice and vodka. It’s one of the most low maintenance fruity cocktails you can order—and low maintenance is what dive bars are all about.
The Boilermaker is the fancy name for a shot and a beer, aka dive bar life blood. The shot can be dropped into the beer or it can be enjoyed separately. Regardless of your preference, nothing takes the edge off quite like the classic combo.
We know what you’re thinking: This ain’t brunch. But trust us, a dive bar Bloody Mary is a solid order. Most dives have a mix on hand—or at least V8 and hot sauce—and all of them have vodka, making it a simple construction. Just don’t ask for any fancy garnishes.
Another simple two-ingredient cocktail, the Greyhound is classically made with vodka and grapefruit juice. But sweet-tart grapefruit juice is such a great (often underappreciated) mixer, it doesn’t even matter if the bartender messes up the spirit on this one. As long as there’s grapefruit juice, some sort of spirit and ice, you’ll most likely end up with a great drink, no matter if the bartender picks up the vodka, gin or even tequila bottle.