10 Rules of Drinking Like a Man #5 Order The Right Drink In The Right Bar At The Right Time

Rule 5: Order The Right Drink, In The Right Bar, At The Right Time

It’s called understanding your environment and being aware. Part of being a man is walking into a room and knowing where you are, and who you are in that room.  This goes for every room you will ever enter anytime anywhere.  And any, “guide to good handshakefulness, ” business book will tell you the same thing.  To dovetail with the light beer rule:  if you can see someone wearing a tie, it is probably a bad time to order a vodka Redbull.  The same goes for you if you are wearing a tie.

I’m a traveling man of many circles, and my business card reads, “Cultural Attache,” for a reason.  When Peter, my 23 year old mohawked cook takes the after work party to Shorty’s, our local punk rock pinball bar, he and I will, “do,” a couple car bombs because I respect  the way of his tribe, and sometimes I am part of that tribe.  When I steer the party to the Zig Zag, we quaff sexy cocktails and fine spirits.  My point is, if you order a Rob Roy at Shorty’s the bartender has every right to tell you to fuck off.  Here are some clues that can help you detect where you are and what to order, but first remember: No Bloody Mary’s after breakfast.

I make my "Bloody Ophelia," with aquavit instead of vodka, garnish with smoked trout and only before noon


Where are you?

Are people wearing hoodies?
If people are wearing hoodies, you may only order beer. Moreover, it is only safe to order beer.  Hoodies, stupid nit hats and the like are indicative of a jalapeno popper type of establishment, stick to beer and enjoy the fried life, the deep fried life.

Are there pointy shoes and hair gel in your midst?
I like cute shoes and I love the ladies that wear them, but beware the bar where everyone is pretty.  This bar will have no beer for you, and likely no good food, they will likely over charge you and put low effort into cocktails. Keep it simple here, order straight spirits and, “2fers,” meaning a drink  of something and something.

Is your server wearing a uniform?
This is a red flag for creativity and a time to ask for a menu, you need something that the bartender was trained to make.

Did your server recommend a specific drink to you without asking you what you like?
This means that the server has sales goals, and a truly mediocre glass of crowd pleasing swill for you.  This article is about drinking like a man and getting what you want, not something pedestrian.

What is the most expensive glass of wine they have?
Unless you are in a wine bar, a wine menu should have less than 12 glass pours.  Though there are exceptions, if there are more wines by the glass than that, you will be ordering oxidized wine.  The same is true if you are ordering the $15 to $20 glass on any menu if it isn’t a Friday or a Saturday.  That $15 glass has been sitting, don’t be afraid to send it back if it is old.  But on the other side of the coin: most restaurants have a, “make the cost of the bottle on the first pour,” rule.  Keeping that rule in mind, understand that any under $8 glass is basically a Trader Joes wine.   OK at a pizza parlor, but no where else.

Do they have rye whiskey?
If I can’t tell if I’m in a nice place or just a place that looks nice, I very safely ask, “What kind of rye whiskey do you have?”  This is a very non dickish way to not put your server under too much stress and gauge where you are, if the answer is returned, “Maker’s Mark, Crown Royal and I think Jack Daniels,”  (not ryes) you know where you really are.

Can you see bottles of bitters?
Yes? Then order a cocktail (remember the definition of cocktail)


Only on road trips or office parties on the company dime


The worst thing you can do to make sure everyone knows you don’t belong is to order something you can’t see.  Only a fucking asshole ignorant of his surroundings would order overly brand specific drinks with no indication of those things.  Examples? I’ve heard guests ask for the following apropos of nothing: Bud Light Lime, Three Olives Bubble Gum Flavored Vodka, Blue Cheese Olives, Capri Sun, Fresca, Kendall Jackson Wine…you get the idea, just look around first.

It is also important to keep geography and seasonality in mind when ordering. No strawberries in January, and no rhubarb in September.  I don’t expect you to remember what produce comes in what season, but you should know your pies.  Rhubarb= early summer, peach= middle summer, apple= late summer, and pumpkin= late fall. Think of cocktails like pies.  As for geography, you’ll quickly find you should drink  what  is made, and what is drank, by others at the same latitude.  Simple.  Tequila has a certain joy in intense heat that single malt scotch tragically tastes horrible in.  Yet magically, single malt scotch is very much enhanced by wool sweaters.

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18 Responses to 10 Rules of Drinking Like a Man #5 Order The Right Drink In The Right Bar At The Right Time

  1. Nick Danger says:

    Excellent work! Keep it coming, please.

    Okay if I save these posts and give it to my son when he turns 21 in 9 years? :)

  2. Did your server recommend a specific drink to you without asking you what you like?

    • caskstrength says:

      Yes this happens to me quite often and I find it rude. It is a very rookie move to increase drink sales but it doesn’t take into account the service side of getting drunk. If the bar is 3 deep, it is OK for a bartender to yell, “you want a beer,” but if I’m at a table then subtle service should be the game.

  3. reallowvibe says:

    Crap, now I have to find some pie.

  4. dominik mj says:

    It is something called suggestive selling – however you have to be quite sensitive, if you apply this technique…

    I actually like the idea of this series – however I think, that life is too short to drink inferior drinks.
    No light beer for me [in any situation] – I rather drink water than light beer; and no red bull in any venue! And vodka & red bull? Never ever. C’mon what is man-ly if you drink fortified artificial gummibear juice?

    The wine rules are a bit… unbiased. There are a lot of outlets having a “verre de vin” wine preservation system [and there are also other systems on the market] this prolongs the life of an open wine and enables the outlet to sell better wines by the glass without exorbitant losses.

    And cheap wines? Often restaurateurs are doing volume deals – they get quite a good discount on a wine, if they achieve volume targets. It doesn’t need to be a bad wine [though often is also not that good…].

    • Morgan says:

      There are states that regulate to price of wine sales and others where it is illegal to offer volume discounts on alcohol (wholesale) sales. Oregon being one of them. No every restaurant can get volume deals.

  5. Megan says:

    Hilarious and right on target. Sadly, common sense isn’t too common. I went to a brewery with a friend and he ordered a Guinness…we had to have a conversation after that.

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  8. Wendy says:

    couldn’t agree more! another thing that might fall into this category is ordering another bars “house” drink- I think I saw this happen to you recently. I know that there are many drinks (Pegu, Last Word) that have grown to be common knowledge but what about drinks that someone makes up in their own bar (oh let’s say the Hot Charlotte), I don’t think you should be ordering those outside of said bar unless you see it on the menu. Your thoughts?

    • caskstrength says:

      Look for ingredients, and then ask if a cocktail can be made. Never hand anyone an iphone with a drink recipe on it. If you are in a state that touches an ocean, ask if they have chartreuse or maraschino. Otherwise, just start by asking, politely, for a drink to be shaken or stirred. Also, never try to teach someone a recipe if you can’t see every ingredient and a jigger on the bar. We don’t all need or use jiggers, but we do to learn.

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  12. Andrew says:

    I would add that you should take a look around at how the drinks are garnished and dispensed. A little watching goes a long way.

    I’ve had “Rum Runners” at bar/grill establishments that took 5 minutes to make – 20 seconds to dispense some pre-made shit from a frozen drink dispenser, and 4:40 for the “bartender” to put sunglasses, a leaf (for hair), and 6 or 7 other needless embellishments when a slice of pineapple and a cherry would have sufficed (and got me the drink in under a minute). The drink cost close to $10, which is the price I would expect to pay someone making a real cocktail, not someone dispensing a overly-sugared mixture of fruit juice and rum into a glass (and spending forever on putting the sunglasses on that pineapple slice!).

  13. P Grivich says:

    I was skeptical of the “order for the venue” idea, because I hate being told what to do by some self-appointed authority, but you’re actually right. When it comes to drink-for-the-venue restrictions, I dare say these should be considered the bare minimum. As in, if you didn’t figure this out on your own by the time you were 25, you should not be allowed out alone, because otherwise you’re going to go to a Chinese take-out restaurant and order a hamburger.

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