PLEASE HELP: I’m an Adult Who Doesn’t Understand Bars

Hi there. It’s me, your local embarrassment. I have a confession to make. It’s not really a confession so much as a cry for help. Here’s the thing. I have been 21 years of age since October 7th, 2016 and I have no freakin’ clue how to order from a bar. None.

“But Sam!” You might be thinking, “I swear I saw you at the VI with a drink that one time!” Oh yes you did my friend. But here’s the thing–

I am a sham.

I have a go to technique which works about less than 50% of the time– I order what I overheard someone else order. It’s great because you never know what you’re going to get, just like with life, or a box of chocolates. Although, I must say I’ve never ordered a piece of chocolate called a Long Island Iced Tea which apparently resembles Iced Tea in name only, and accidentally gotten drunk at 5 p.m. on a Thursday.  This is the kind of situation I’ve gotten myself into.

So here’s my thing. No one teaches you how to order from a bar. Sure, parents are all on board to teach you about how babies are made, but when it comes to what the hell you’re supposed to say to a bartender? Nada.

So what was SUPPOSED to happen when I turned 21? Was I supposed to magically gain the knowledge of mixed drinks? Or wine for that matter? As far as I can tell there’s red and white and sometimes pink. Someone once asked me if I liked dry or sweet wine better. I picked whatever I assumed the bottle they were holding was. (Spoiler alert: I picked wrong.)

Like any good indoors kid, I googled it of course. However, the problem is that if anyone is going to write a guide to alcohol on the internet it’s someone who is really into alcohol. Not like an alcoholic or anything, but more like that episode of Parks and Rec where they go to the winery and that one guy gargles wine to get all the flavor notes.

So basically I’ve been winging it.

The first time I went to Peirce Pub I had no idea what kind of drinks they even made (mostly because their “bar” was four bottles of hard alcohol sitting on a counter next to some juice) so I asked the bartender “What kind of drinks do you have” and he looked at me like I was nuts and said “uh it’s a variety, what do you want?”

I don’t know what I want Peirce Pub bartender! That’s the problem!! (This story ends with me blurting
“whiskey sour”  because it was the first thing that came to my mind and I paid $5 for a drink that tasted like highly concentrated yellow gatorade and whiskey).

Also apparently some drinks are better in some places and worse in others?? If there’s no universal system how the hell am I supposed to know what to order ever.

Which brings me to my final moment of horror and embarrassment that prompted me to write this article. I ended up at a bar off-campus last week (No, Mom, I wasn’t driving) and recalled a friend of mine making me something called an “Old-Fashioned” all I remembered was it had a lot of orange slices in it and who doesn’t love orange slices. So I confidently strut up to the bar and order one. The bartender looks at me weird, starts to make it, and then throughout reveals she doesn’t quite know how to make one and says the worst thing I could imagine

“What do you usually put in these when you make them?”

I mumbled something and in the end got a glass of ice with bourbon and a sugar cube, and most upsettingly, no orange slices.

So now I appeal to you.

How do I order at a bar without embarrassing myself? What do people even order at bars? And for the love of god how do I get the bartender to stuff like twenty orange slices in my glass?

3 comments

  • Research drinks so you have a couple of go to drinks. Start with the basic alcohols. I don’t like beer. Wine is hit or miss. Reds are stronger tasting. White wines are typically more palatable – ask for a fruitier white. Riesling is a good variety. Rose wine looks pretty but can be a bit dry. White Zinfandel is a good starter wine, looks like a rose but it is sweeter. Asti Spumante is sweeter and less expensive than champagne. White Sangria might be a good one to try. Skip Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch and Brand. They are too strong tasting. Vodka is pretty neutral and mixes well. Rum is sweeter and also mixes well. Do you like fruit juices? Sea Breeze, “Malibu” Bay Breeze, Bahama Mama are tropical, fruity and won’t knock you off your feet. Do you like margaritas? Frozen is going to be more diluted when you drink it. Look for a place that makes their own from scratch – not a mix, it will be a better drink.

    Whatever you order, order with confidence even if it ends up being a pink drink with an umbrella!

    Good luck.

  • One time, upon being told that they couldn’t make my drink of choice, I panicked and ordered a White Russian.
    I’m lactose intolerant.

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