“What’s your favorite drink to make?” And Other Ways to Frustrate Your Bartender

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I have dedicated a chunk of my life towards being in the hospitality industry: Years of taking care of people on their best/worst/in-between days, countless hours of studying and practicing, and an unknown (potentially frightening) amount of money on alcohol. *Fair note, the alcohol was about 50% studying and 50% relaxing from dealing with the general public.

This past New Year’s Eve I found myself bartending for VIPs on a vintage train car where each table cost $750 before they ever even came to my bar. I also found myself at the end of the shift cleaning up delights such as puke and oddly enough a positive pregnancy test shoved in a beer can. All while still wearing my silk tie and starched white shirt.

Yet through everything, I honest to God love my job.

I love being a part of so many people’s lives, helping them create memories, and helping them connect with themselves and others through their sense of taste and smell.

Everyone has their own individual pet peeves, which includes bartenders. Every bartender has different annoyances but I want to share some of the most ubiquitous questions/statements that will get under practically every bartender’s skin.

Give me a girly drink.

GIRLY IS NOT A DRINK DESCRIPTION. Some people expect a girly drink to be low in alcohol, some fruity, some sweet, and still others that want it strong but with the taste of the alcohol hidden. Simply ordering a “girly” drink is just lazy. Worse, if your definition of a girly drink is different than your bartender’s then you’re likely to get a drink you don’t like at all.

Do you even know how to make a margarita/old fashioned/random drink I got in another country 10 years ago on vacation?

Trust me, I learned how to make margaritas and old fashioneds on my first day bartending. Asking me if I know how to make a fundamental drink is like asking the chef at a restaurant if they can make a grilled cheese sandwich. And I’m sorry Karen, but I was not on the princess cruise with you 10 years ago. I have no clue what their specialty cocktail looked like.

Well you obviously don’t know how to do your job because another bartender does it differently.

You may be thinking to yourself that this is an incredibly rude thing to say, and you’re not wrong. But trust me dear reader, these people exist and there are tons of them. Please keep in mind that just because a bartender is making a drink differently than you’re used to, they’re not necessarily wrong.

For example, I was told this about 2 months ago when someone ordered a “liquid marijuana” cocktail. It’s a simple enough drink that calls for spiced rum, melon liqueur, coconut rum, blue curacao, sweet & sour, and pineapple juice. When the guest took her first sip she threw an unholy fit over how it tasted wrong. Not bad. Just wrong. She insisted my coworker introduced her to the drink and knew how to make it so I asked the coworker what she does. Apparently this particular bartender thought that vodka and gin went into the drink, no rum….

Now was it the guest’s fault that she was given a improperly made drink? Not at all. Did she get under my skin by being an ass? You bet.

Can I have a “piece of ass” (or any other dirty named drink that I won’t specify is a drink)?

Personally I think drinks with cheeky names can be funny and work great at getting attention on a cocktail menu. Right now I even have “Hanky Panky” on my menu I created for work. But be respectful of your bartenders.

Just coming up to me, especially when I’m busy, and saying “Can I have a piece of ass?” is just rude and a waste of my time. Not only are you obviously making an unwanted/crude advance towards me, but now I have two choices: either I just walk away and ignore you (only to have to come back later) or I have to stop and have a conversation about what the hell you wanted to order. Either way, you’re wasting my time. Just be clear about what you want to order and let me handle the next guest.

What’s your favorite drink to make?

Ah.. the question that launched this whole article. As a bartender, my job is to help make you happy with your drink. Not me. My favorite thing to make is whatever you’re going to enjoy the most because I want you to end up having the absolute best experience.

I have a library of drink recipes and interesting flavor combinations rumbling around my head. My favorite thing to make is when you give me a general flavor profile and I create something bespoke. Some guests are looking for a well-crafted take on the old fashioned. On the other hand, I’ve had a guest who was happy as a clam with a shot of vodka mixed with half a bottle of hot sauce. To each their own.

I know every job has its annoyances, but I honestly really feel blessed to have the job I do. I look forward to mixing up a drink for all of you…especially if you avoid these statements!