Learn to Order Drinks at the Bar Like a Pro

Learn How to Order Drinks at the Bar Like a Pro!

Feel afraid to sound like you don’t know how to order?

It’s time to relax and grab a drink

Preparing to Order at the Bar

You’re thirsty and at the bar ready to unwind, but as you get ready to order your drink, you realize you have no idea how. You may be afraid to sound dumb or end up with the wrong drink. Ordering a drink isn’t that hard though, and this blog is going to give you the basic terminology and phrases to help you get your next drink made just the way you want it. 

Beer

Who doesn’t like a nice cold ale or lager? Unless you are talking about craft beer(1), it’s pretty straightforward and arguably the easiest alcohol to order at the bar. 

A glass

If you are just ordering one beer for yourself, you can just order a glass. While ordering, it isn’t even important to specify the word “glass” in most cases. 

Ex. May I have a glass of Guinness, please? 

Ex. May I have a Guinness, please? 

The bartender(2) will certainly understand what you mean if you just say the name of the beer. However, if you want to eliminate any chance of confusion, just use the word glass. 

A pint

A pint(3) glass holds 473 ml. Bars commonly serve pints, and they became popular in the United Kingdom in the early/mid-20th century. 

Ex. May I have one pint of Carlsberg, please? 

Ex. May I get a pint of Budweiser, please?  

A pitcher

Let’s say you have a few friends, and you all want to drink together. You could buy separate glasses or pints, but to save money, you could order a pitcher(4) of beer and share it. 

Pitchers vary in size: They are commonly between 946 ml and 1893 ml. When ordering a pitcher, you will also get smaller glasses on the side, that way you can share the pitcher with friends. 

Ex. May I get a pitcher of PBR with three glasses please? 

Ex. Can we get a pitcher of Boddington with four glasses? 

Beer Flight

Not every bar will have beer flights(5). They are more common in craft beer shops where there are many different styles of beer to try. 

A flight is anywhere from four to eight small glasses of beer (three-five ounces each). You order a beer flight to sample different beers and see what you like. 

Ex. I would like a flight with your IPA, your raspberry sour, your porter, and your smoked lager. 

Hard Alcohol 

Hard alcohol can be more complicated to order because there are so many options. You have straight liquor, house blends, and cocktails. First, know what kind of drink you want, but if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Bartenders are professionals, and they are generally happy to share their knowledge with you. 

This blog won’t go into the specifics of every kind of alcohol, but you should learn a few terms that can make ordering liquor a little easier. 

Neat

let’s say you want to order a whiskey neat. That means there will be no ice, no chaser (we will cover this word soon), and the alcohol is served at room temperature. 

A neat drink is literally just straight alcohol. 

Ex. Can I get a whiskey neat, please? 

On the Rocks

If you order your drink on the rocks, it means your alcohol will have ice in it. The alcohol will be served over ice, which not only cools the drink down but can also bring out flavors in complex alcohols like whiskey and scotch(6). 

Ex. Can I get some rum on the rocks, please? 

Top Shelf

Top shelf refers to expensive, high-quality liquors. If you have a little extra cash or only want to drink the best of the best, you can order something from the top shelf. 

Ex. What top-shelf vodkas do you have? 

Ex. I would like some top-shelf vodka, please. 

Shots

Shots need little explanation. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion with a bunch of friends or just want to get some alcohol in you quickly, shots always get the job done. 

Shots

Shots are 100 percent alcohol. There are no non-alcoholic ingredients, so if you order a shot of tequila, you will just get tequila. Shots vary in size but they’re typically between one and two fluid ounces. 

Shooters

Shooters(7) differ from shots because they contain both alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients. Some of these shooters may include juice, soda, or even whipped cream. 

Chaser

Some people are firmly against chasers(8), but bars will usually offer you a chaser if you ask for one. If you drink a shot and it is too strong, you can go to your chaser, a second glass with something non-alcoholic to mitigate(8) the taste of the alcohol. Common chasers include cola, juice, and sometimes even water. 

Ex. Can I get a shot of Jager with a chaser please? 

Ex. Can I get a shot of Jager with some cola on the side please? 

Martinis 

Martinis are alcoholic drinks made with either vodka or gin. There are many different kinds of martinis, but many martinis also contain another kind of alcohol called vermouth(9). 

Depending on the type of martini you order, there could be fruit, lemon twists, or even olives inside. A dirty martini is a blend(10) of alcohol and olive juice. The dirtier the martini, the more olive juice is used. 

Dry martini

 A dry martini means adding less vermouth. This will make the martini more bitter. 

Wet martini

A wet martini means adding more vermouth, which will make the drink taste smoother. 

I am no expert on martinis, but since they vary so much, you will likely have to keep experimenting to find out what matches your taste. 

Time to Get out There and Order

Just remember, you don’t need to know every bar term. Bartenders are happy to help you out, but hopefully, you feel more ready for your next outing. Check out #15 Bottoms Up by the Ride the Vibes podcast to learn more English and for more information on alcohol culture. Now, get out there and order a drink like a pro. 

Craving more food and drinks? Check out our blog on Strange Foods to Eat in East Asia.

A brief history of alcohol – Rod Phillips

Vocabulary 

1. craft beer (n.) 

Def. a specialty beer produced in limited quantities

Ex. The most popular craft beer in the world right now is the IPA (India Pale Ale). 

2. bartender (n.) 

Def. a person who serves drinks at a bar

Ex. That bartender always makes me strong drinks. 

3. pint (n.) 

Def. a pint pot or vessel

Ex. I had seven pints of beer last night. I am a little hungover. 

4. pitcher (n.) 

Def. a container for holding and pouring liquids that usually has a lip or spout and a handle

Ex. I can’t wait to share a pitcher with you guys tonight. 

5. flight (n.)

Def. a selection of alcoholic drinks (such as wines, beers, or whiskeys) for tasting as a group

Ex. This brewery offers a free flight of beer to all its customers. 

6. scotch (n.)

Def. whiskey distilled in Scotland especially from malted barley

Ex. Scotch is less sweet than bourbon or whiskey. 

7. shooter (n.) 

Def. a shot of hard liquor (such as whiskey or tequila) often diluted with something (such as soda)

Ex. She always orders shooters since shots are too strong for her. 

8. mitigate (v.)

Def. to cause to become less harsh

Ex. Drinking the chaser mitigated the flavor of the absinthe, which tasted disgusting. 

9. vermouth (n.) 

Def. a dry or sweet aperitif wine flavored with aromatic herbs and often used in mixed drinks

Ex. More vermouth makes the martini taste smoother and a bit less harsh. 

10. blend (n.) 

Def.  to combine or associate so that the separate constituents or the line of demarcation cannot be distinguished

Ex. Long Island iced teas contain a blend of three to five different kinds of alcohol. 

Photos

Girl-young-woman-beauty-model by Concord90

Glass-of-beer-beer-glass-alcohol by MabelAmber

Mint-juleps-mint-alcohol by jnprice73

Beverages-alcohol-shot-glasses by Mediengestalter

Cocktail-martini-gin-drink-glass by stevepb