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House Drink Etiquette


Scotttos
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I know ordering off the menu is commonplace at fine cocktail lounges, but I'm curious what you guys think about ordering say a Pegu drink at D&C, or vice versa? (and this isn't a NY specific thing, it could apply to any fine cocktail lounges accross the country).

Reason I'm asking is because I was at PDT this Saturday and heard someone order a French Pearl and it struck me as a funny thing to do. Perhaps I'm totally off on this and when I asked the bartender he basically told me as much, saying that most bartenders in the classic cocktail circle have worked for the various high-end places in the city, so they know they're way around the different drink menus.

It still struck me as weird, I figured if you wanted a French Pearl you'd go to Pegu and if you're at PDT you should order a PDT drink….am I just being misguided here? I thought maybe it was seen as a insult to the bar you're sitting at if you go ahead and order another bar's drinks….but maybe that's how classics are born.

Any thoughts on this?

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The main question is whether the new bar is going to know how to make the drink. I wouldn't order a French Pearl at a random bar in, say, Milwaukee. But one has a reasonable expectation that the bartenders at PDT are familiar with the drink.

Consider this: all cocktail recipes were once "house drinks" at a bar somewhere.

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I should add to this that some drinks you won't be able to get just anywhere. For example, looking at your examples, the Oaxaca Old Fashioned from D&C is made with very specific spirits, in particular, Los Amantes Joven Mescal. This spirit, or indeed any mescal whatsoever, is not exactly standard bar stock, and if you don't have it you can't make an Oaxaca Old Fashioned. This would be equally true of drinks made with custom infusions. etc.

In general, most cocktails people I know are not so big on the "secret recipe" thing. They would rather have their drinks made with the correct recipe and attribution, and of course having some popular cocktails out there with your name attached to them is a pretty good way to grow your reputation and influence.

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A good drink is a good drink. If I have a good drink somewhere I find out how to make that drink because the more drinks I know the better chance I have of satisfying the forever more numerous customer base. Further I see nothing wrong with trying to order a house cocktail of a house in a different house. If a person is asking me for a gin gin mule or some other cocktail from another cocktail lounge I know this person really likes this drink and probably because its a good cocktail. This customer could actually be helping me become a better bartender if its a drink I didn't know how to make or ever heard of and they know the recipe I didn't. We are all on the same team. Every good cocktail at every good cocktail bar is good for all cocktail bars. Drinks are our resouces good drinks are our goals. We should share our resources because we are all trying to achieve the same goal. That goal I feel is to see a higher number of people drinking quality beverages. That can't be achieved in just one place. We need each other we are each other.

Spread the good word one and all.

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Consider this: all cocktail recipes were once "house drinks" at a bar somewhere.

Excellent point.

A good drink is a good drink. If I have a good drink somewhere I find out how to make that drink because the more drinks I know the better chance I have of satisfying the forever more numerous customer base. Further I see nothing wrong with trying to order a house cocktail of a house in a different house. If a person is asking me for a gin gin mule or some other cocktail from another cocktail lounge I know this person really likes this drink and probably because its a good cocktail. This customer could actually be helping me become a better bartender if its a drink I didn't know how to make or ever heard of and they know the recipe I didn't. We are all on the same team. Every good cocktail at every good cocktail bar is good for all cocktail bars. Drinks are our resouces  good drinks are our goals. We should share our resources because we are all trying to achieve the same goal. That goal I feel is to see a higher number of people drinking quality beverages. That can't be achieved in just one place. We need each other we are each other.

Spread the good word one and all.

Very well said. It makes complete sense thinking about it this way.

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I agree with phil, but don't you hate it when someone comes up and orders something from a down town Boise hotel bar called a "flaming chocolate frou-frou Oreo, with a float of Chambord"?

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I agree with phil, but don't you hate it when someone comes up and orders something from a down town Boise hotel bar called a "flaming chocolate frou-frou Oreo, with a float of Chambord"?

If I were a professional bartender, I'd definitely hate that. I mean, everyone knows the Flaming Chocolate Frou-Frou Oreo should traditionally have a float of Bailey's. Chambord takes it straight to the realm of the renowned SuperDuper Razz-Choco-Tini.

Christopher

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It's rare enough for customers to remember the house specialties from the place they're actually at (present company excluded, of course), and it's really absurd when they try to describe something they had somewhere else: "Ummm...it's got vodka in it, and it was really sweet and fruity." Gimme a break. Although when the unwashed ask for fruity or easy drinking it's fun to slip them an Oriental or Corpse Reviver #2 to show them that whiskey and gin are not their enemies.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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