Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
TrishCT

What should I order when...

Recommended Posts

Hi Gary and Mardee,

Often when I go to a restaurant, I ask the person taking our drink order if they have any special cocktails they can recommend. Most times I am met with a blank, empty stare and then the phrase "We can make anything you want." Which, usually they can't--(eg. a grape crush), so it's beer or wine time.

What cocktails do you recommend ordering at an indifferent bar? Do you think bartenders would be insulted if you told them how to make a cocktail?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While Gary and Mardee don't come back (funny how quickly one gets used to such good, expert company, isn't it?) I thought I might chip in as your problem is so widespread it would justify a fat book.

Faced with these situations, I first go and check their shelves, to see what they stock, and then ask for a cocktail that's just stirred, rather than shaken, and that involves only bottles. Forget anything with fruit juice or even the seemingly-simple gin and tonic. They'll mess up.

The best apéritif in these war zones is a Negroni - 1/3 gin, 1/3 Campari and 1/3 red vermouth, with an extra jolt of gin. When ordering I play the simpleton and say "I wonder whether you could make it according to my mother's recipe - just one proportion of each?"

If they can drop a slice of orange into it, all the better. Lemon will also do. In my experience, all across Europe, it's impossible to get wrong and, if it's unbalanced, you can easily call for more gin, Campari or vermouth and just have it poured in.

I also like pastis - you pour in the water - and ready-bottled apéritifs like Suze, etc.

For after-dinner, a Rusty Nail - half Drambuie, half Scotch (choose the best on the shelf - it's better with a good single malt, forget the waste!) in an old-fashioned glass, just stirred and served with two cubes of ice - can't be fouled up either.

I've also ordered a split of Champagne and a glass of creme de cassis and made up Kir Royals at the table. The same applies to white Burgundy for regular Kirs and, if you ask nicely for sugar cubes, Angostura bitters and freshly cut lemon peel, you can make champagne cocktails. If the joint is very dire, ask for a cognac, a split of champagne and lemon peel and you can make another classic champagne cocktail. Champagne works with everything - Cointreau, Port, Calvados, nothing at all if the place is really, really incompetent.

In sum, Negronis and Rusty Nails apart, the trick is to assemble at table. This is the Portuguese way, though I look forward to reading Gary's and Mardee's professional opinions. "Cocktails You Couldn't Screw Up If You Tried" would make a great thread, btw! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the bartender is really "indifferent," I might be tempted to stick to beer, but I frequently tell bartenders exactly how I'd like my cocktails to be made, and those with a professional attitude never seem to mind. For instance, if I fancy a Wild Turkey Manhattan I'll want more vermouth in the drink than if I wanted a Maker's Mark Manhattan, so I'll let the bartender know what kind of ratios I'm looking for, or maybe just tell him/her too use a lot of vermouth (for the WT cocktail). And I always ask for bitters since few bartenders automatically use them, though that's starting to change.

I rarely order cocktails in bars that don't seem to cater to a cocktail crowd, though--I'd rather have a good bourbon on the rocks--and if I do, I try to stick to the basics such as Martinis and Manhattans, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Gin & Tonic" is always my "Safety Drink" when I'm at a joint that I feel aprehensive about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last time I was in this situation I followed my wonderful brother-in-law's advice and just ordered the best vodka they had on the rocks. I ended up with about 7 oz. of Grey Goose. (Not a bad deal really, since the drink was $5.)

Very, very dangerous. Don't do that. :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I order a Manhattan and take my chances--have ended up with some awful concoctions, but fun to do. Some of them have been terrific--kind of gives the bartender a chance to show his/her stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having a few oddities served up that didn't nearly resemble what I requested, I usually go the route of explicit specification as in "I'll have a Cosmo made with Citron and Cointreau, up with a twist, please?" all while wearing a warm smile. If that fails, then I'll go to Glacier on the rocks or my fav beer/microbrew. :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Look for the highest upper left hand corner for the few, select bottles of spirits the liquor rep talked them into buying of they got free with a promo. These mystery bottles are usually a quality bourbon like Basil Hayden's or Dickel. You may also see the remnants of the Single Malt six-pack (Oban, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie) usually one or more of these bottles is virgin. Order any of these on the rocks and you most likely be undercharged as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Look for the highest upper left hand corner for the few, select bottles of spirits the liquor rep talked them into buying of they got free with a promo. These mystery bottles are usually a quality bourbon like Basil Hayden's or Dickel. You may also see the remnants of the Single Malt six-pack (Oban, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie) usually one or more of these bottles is virgin. Order any of these on the rocks and you most likely be undercharged as well.

:laugh:

Gordon (a charming, former barkeep), have I told you lately that I think you are the cat's pajamas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Look for the highest upper left hand corner for the few, select bottles of spirits the liquor  rep talked them into buying of they got free with a promo. These mystery bottles are usually a quality bourbon like Basil Hayden's or Dickel. You may also see the remnants of the Single Malt  six-pack (Oban, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Talisker, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie) usually one or more of these bottles is virgin. Order any of these on the rocks and you most likely be undercharged as well.

:laugh:

Gordon (a charming, former barkeep), have I told you lately that I think you are the cat's pajamas?

Aw shucks ma'am :wub:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When it comes to the wine and spirits recs on this site...you all are just wonderful!

Thanks! :wub:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The "Gin & Tonic" is always my "Safety Drink" when I'm at a joint that I feel aprehensive about.

The tonic most bars serve (out of the gun) is sugared almost uncarbonated piss. Of late - I've encountered some high end restaurants and bars that also serve the same garbage. If the tonic isn't bottled - and preferably Schweppes - forget it. Get a martini - no vermouth - on the rocks. Let the ice dilute the gin a bit. Or try some tonic on the side to add if you'd like. Taste it first to see if it's drinkable (for the most part - it won't be). Robyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×