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.
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)
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.