Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to Not Sound Like a Dumbass at the Bar

There have been plenty of times when I’ve heard someone order a drink and one of two (or two of two) things have happened:

1)      A person orders a martini or whiskey drink.  The bartender asks them certain specifications of how they want it.  They turn silent with confusion.  

2)      A person orders a martini or whiskey drink with their specifications of how they want it.  But their specifications don’t make sense or aren’t even real terms and the bartender has to ask a bunch of questions to figure out what that person means.

In either case, one word most likely passes through the mind of the bartender and possible onlookers: DUMBASS. 

I don’t want this to happen to you and neither does your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.  I mean bartender.  So you can sound like you know what the f*ck is up when you’re ordering at the bar, I have gone over a bunch of terms that are good to know, especially if you are going for a martini or whiskey drink.  Ready?

A martini classically contains gin.  As of late however, I have made ten times more martinis with vodka.  Even though vodka martinis are way more popular these days, you still need to specify that you want a vodka martini vs a normal martini with gin.  Last, please order it with a good gin or vodka. Otherwise it’s just gross.

I heard someone ask for their bourbon “straight up” one night.  This can be an unclear order to the bartender and spurred me to include this paragraph. Straight up generally means chilled and served in a martini glass without ice, hence the “up” part, because the alcohol is high up above the table/bar due to the shape of the martini glass.  Another word for “straight up” is just “up”.  One generally doesn’t serve non-chilled alcohol in a martini glass or “up”.

Another set of terms has to do with having your drink in a rocks glass (a short cup made of glass) opposed to a martini glass.  If you want your Jack Daniels in a rocks glass with ice, you would say “on the rocks”.  If you want the bartender to just pour you some Jack in a glass and give it to you with no ice, you would say that you want your Jack “neat” or “straight”.  This is distinct, however, from “straight up”, which would be chilled Jack Daniels in a martini glass, which isn’t really a thing unless you add a few things to make it a Manhattan.  With me so far?
                                                                                                         
One time a girl ordered a dirty vodka martini from me.  I made the martini with the vodka she asked for and served it to her.  She took a sip and said, “You didn’t make this right.  There’s too much vermouth in here.”  I’ve decided to make this girl’s story into a cautionary tale.  A lot of bartenders, including myself, won’t put any dry vermouth in a dirty martini because you just can’t taste the difference. Plus most people think that dry vermouth is gross.  Read on for the various martini specifications…

There are a bunch of other terms for quantities of vermouth in your martini or Manhattan.  Like I mentioned above, a dirty martini will often have olive juice and no dry vermouth. A dry martini has a tiny tiny splash, like a few drops, of dry vermouth.  Extra dry will have none at all. Then there is a perfect martini or perfect Manhattan, which has equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

The last term that we’re going to cover here is “with a twist”.  This means that the drink calls for a lemon, lime or orange rind, commonly lemon, twisted up, quickly rubbed over the rim of the glass and then dropped in the glass.

OK all, that’s all I have on this topic for now, so go out to a bar, get drunk and sound smart!

David

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