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Post Reply What drink do you order to test a bartender?
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Posted 2/15/15
The margarita or pina colada poll kinda got me thinking. There's a lot of drinks out there, and probably just as many bartenders. Sometimes it's hard to tell the good from the bad on one drink, but with the right drink, you can really test a lot of what your bartender knows, as well as how strong or weak they mix your drinks as well as their familiarity with the alcohols they're serving.

Some of my favorites tend to be asking for a lesser known liqueur and club soda.

It's not a "OMFG!!! this customer is an ass!!" sort of drink that requires 20 million ingredients or requires some sort of showy presentation. It's only two ingredients, but, if the proportions are off the result is immediately known. Too much of a bitter or aromatic liqueur will result in a drink that is absolutely unpalatable, showing that the bartender probably expects most of their customers to just want to get sloshed.. A drink with too little, and you're basically drinking soda water, and the bartender might be a bit more timid to their ingredients. A pleasant mix shows at least a working knowledge, and a superb ratio is transcendant. (and don't be surprised if they give you a little history of what you're drinking. )

Anyway, what do you order when you want to measure up your bartender's skills?
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Posted 2/15/15 , edited 2/18/15
I ask for beer. If they bring it, then I know they're good. If he says, "Sorry, I have to cut you off, then obviously, he doesn't know what he's doing....
Posted 2/15/15 , edited 2/15/15
mE: Can I have a pint?

Them: A pint of what?

Me: A pint of milk please.

Them: Get out!

Me: Incompetence! Lager will do. Get on with it.

[this never happened and op is a nit]
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15 / F / The fanciest plac...
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Posted 2/15/15
A glass of water. Under aged child in a bar=bad parents.
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30 / M / Empire of Walker
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Posted 2/15/15
The ultimate test is does the place charge more than a buck and a half for a pint or a shot. If you want to drink all that fancy shit buy the stuff at a liquor store and drink it at home, or pregame before you go out so you only need to order a one or two drinks. Seriously you will save giant wads of cash, and if you think you need to test your bartenders knowledge you need to find a new watering hole.

You could also just not drink...
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Posted 2/15/15 , edited 2/15/15
The bartender doesn't really usually control what liquors are available. There's literally no reason to test them this way, nor should you make it a goal to order obscure drinks. That just makes it a pain in the butt to make the drink. They don't know what it is and you don't get your drink. I go to bars to drink, not to try looking cool. To be honest, I drink quite a bit and have my preferences but it's not as though I'll be able to do blind tests based on taste. If you like the flavor, that's a win. If you want an obscure drink, it's better to buy it from your favorite liquor store, and enjoy it at home or at some small social gathering unless you know that particular bar has it.

I just order what I usually get, which is a drink with as much ethanol in it as possible. Usually it's an AMF, gin martini, or a Long Island. I rarely have non-specialty drinks since I don't enjoy mixed drinks as much. Sometimes, I order sake but that's rare since I can get a cheaper and better selection myself and it's bad value to order that at a bar.

The most I ever ask of them is what they recommend if I can't decide. Give them a category: specialty cocktails, a type of beer, whiskey, a type of wine, etc. Or I just ask them if they have a particular drink before I actually try to order it. Specials are a good test. Probably the only test that makes sense.

I actually feel that it's insane to order a pina colada or something at a downtown bar. Order those at a tiki bar, not at some club bar or something. You KNOW they don't have access to fresh fruit to be juiced on the spot and there are a dozen drunk, angry people behind you. Tiki bars are pretty much the only places where you get a really good pina colada.
Posted 2/15/15
Dont drink (wow buzzkill)
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Posted 2/15/15
Virgin Cuba Libre on the Rocks <3
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Posted 2/15/15
Blue Hawaiian ~
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Posted 2/15/15

Morbidhanson wrote:

The bartender doesn't really usually control what liquors are available. There's literally no reason to test them this way, nor should you make it a goal to order obscure drinks. That just makes it a pain in the butt to make the drink. They don't know what it is and you don't get your drink. I go to bars to drink, not to try looking cool. To be honest, I drink quite a bit and have my preferences but it's not as though I'll be able to do blind tests based on taste. If you like the flavor, that's a win. If you want an obscure drink, it's better to buy it from your favorite liquor store, and enjoy it at home or at some small social gathering unless you know that particular bar has it.

I just order what I usually get. Usually it's an AMF, gin martini, or a Long Island. I rarely have non-specialty drinks since I don't enjoy mixed drinks as much. Sometimes, I order sake but that's rare since I can get a cheaper and better selection myself and it's bad value to order that at a bar.

The most I ever ask of them is what they recommend if I can't decide. Give them a category: specialty cocktails, a type of beer, whiskey, a type of wine, etc. Or I just ask them if they have a particular drink before I actually try to order it. Specials are a good test. Probably the only test that makes sense.

I actually feel that it's insane to order a pina colada or something at a downtown bar. Order those at a tiki bar, not at some club bar or something. Tiki bars are pretty much the only places where you get a really good pina colada.


Did I say obscure? If I did wrong word choice I suppose. By "obscure" I mean something other than shots or beer. Usually something I can very obviously see whether they have or not from where I'm sitting.

I also like my liqueurs.... I'm not one to drink to get drunk, and I admit it. I like things that have an herby or flowery taste at times..
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Posted 2/15/15

serifsansserif wrote:


Morbidhanson wrote:

The bartender doesn't really usually control what liquors are available. There's literally no reason to test them this way, nor should you make it a goal to order obscure drinks. That just makes it a pain in the butt to make the drink. They don't know what it is and you don't get your drink. I go to bars to drink, not to try looking cool. To be honest, I drink quite a bit and have my preferences but it's not as though I'll be able to do blind tests based on taste. If you like the flavor, that's a win. If you want an obscure drink, it's better to buy it from your favorite liquor store, and enjoy it at home or at some small social gathering unless you know that particular bar has it.

I just order what I usually get. Usually it's an AMF, gin martini, or a Long Island. I rarely have non-specialty drinks since I don't enjoy mixed drinks as much. Sometimes, I order sake but that's rare since I can get a cheaper and better selection myself and it's bad value to order that at a bar.

The most I ever ask of them is what they recommend if I can't decide. Give them a category: specialty cocktails, a type of beer, whiskey, a type of wine, etc. Or I just ask them if they have a particular drink before I actually try to order it. Specials are a good test. Probably the only test that makes sense.

I actually feel that it's insane to order a pina colada or something at a downtown bar. Order those at a tiki bar, not at some club bar or something. Tiki bars are pretty much the only places where you get a really good pina colada.


Did I say obscure? If I did wrong word choice I suppose. By "obscure" I mean something other than shots or beer. Usually something I can very obviously see whether they have or not from where I'm sitting.

I also like my liqueurs.... I'm not one to drink to get drunk, and I admit it. I like things that have an herby or flowery taste at times..


Oh, I see. Gotcha.

You'd probably like stuff like saketinis and absinthe cocktails lol
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Posted 2/15/15 , edited 2/17/15
Customer - I'd like a totally random and little known drink.
Me - Sure. Lemme just google how to make it.
Customer - Pfft. Loser.

Some time later.

Customer - Holy shit! Why does this cost so much?
Me - Asshole fee. Now pay up before I have to call Rico.
Customer - Rico?
Rico - Grrrrrh.
Customer - Now I know why it's called the Lion's Den Bar.
Me - I haven't fed Rico in a while.
Sogno- 
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Posted 2/15/15
lol people do that

i always just ask for a watermelon jolly rancher haha.
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24 / M / Scotland
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Posted 2/15/15
Water. I want to order a diet virgin cuba libre one day but they cost too much money and it's a bit of a dick move.
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35 / M
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Posted 2/15/15

Morbidhanson wrote:


serifsansserif wrote:


Morbidhanson wrote:

The bartender doesn't really usually control what liquors are available. There's literally no reason to test them this way, nor should you make it a goal to order obscure drinks. That just makes it a pain in the butt to make the drink. They don't know what it is and you don't get your drink. I go to bars to drink, not to try looking cool. To be honest, I drink quite a bit and have my preferences but it's not as though I'll be able to do blind tests based on taste. If you like the flavor, that's a win. If you want an obscure drink, it's better to buy it from your favorite liquor store, and enjoy it at home or at some small social gathering unless you know that particular bar has it.

I just order what I usually get. Usually it's an AMF, gin martini, or a Long Island. I rarely have non-specialty drinks since I don't enjoy mixed drinks as much. Sometimes, I order sake but that's rare since I can get a cheaper and better selection myself and it's bad value to order that at a bar.

The most I ever ask of them is what they recommend if I can't decide. Give them a category: specialty cocktails, a type of beer, whiskey, a type of wine, etc. Or I just ask them if they have a particular drink before I actually try to order it. Specials are a good test. Probably the only test that makes sense.

I actually feel that it's insane to order a pina colada or something at a downtown bar. Order those at a tiki bar, not at some club bar or something. Tiki bars are pretty much the only places where you get a really good pina colada.


Did I say obscure? If I did wrong word choice I suppose. By "obscure" I mean something other than shots or beer. Usually something I can very obviously see whether they have or not from where I'm sitting.

I also like my liqueurs.... I'm not one to drink to get drunk, and I admit it. I like things that have an herby or flowery taste at times..


Oh, I see. Gotcha.

You'd probably like stuff like saketinis and absinthe cocktails lol


Oh god no... why would you ruin good sake by doing that?

(also don't get me started on the martini craze. Martine used to mean gin and vermouth, or vodka and vermouth... now it's just "it comes in a martini glass and we can charge you a shitton more for it. Care for a screwdriv-errrrr.. an "orange martini"?"[ok maybe it's not THAT bad but you understand what i mean])

Absinthe is interesting but no need to make a cocktail out of it to appreciate it.
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