Q: Will this section help me get a job?

A: Yes. Having a basic knowledge of how customers will call out their drinks is extremely important your first week on the job. Bar managers know this.

Q: Will the interviewer ask me anything from this section?

A: Possibly. I always asked similar questions to this: “OK, Mark, a customer comes up to the bar and orders a Jack Daniels neat. Tell me how you would make the drink.”

Rookie Mistakes: It can be a little embarrassing if your customer orders a “Scotch Neat,” and you chill and pour it into a martini glass. Ouch. Other mistakes include not charging for a “float,” strong and weak drinks protocol and other stuff – but that will depend upon bar policy.

Side note: This is one of the areas that bar managers look closely at. During the interview, if he asks you how you would respond to a customer asking for a strong drink, and you say something like, “It all depends upon how drunk he is,” or “It depends on how hot she is,” you’re in trouble.

Remember – it’s not your booze! The correct response to the above question is that you pour all drinks the same – whatever the house dictates. “I’m very sorry sir, but we pour a very good drink for all of our customers here. I can certainly make you a double – but I will have to charge for the extra shot.”

Please, don’t confuse yourself with a very good, experienced bartender here! You are a rookie – possibly never having worked behind a bar in any capacity. Experienced bartenders have many ways of handling just such a situation (some are priceless!), and I go over all of them later on in the course. You’re going to find Section 12 – Bartender vs. Customer very informative and entertaining, believe me!

All bartenders were “Rookies” at some point. I certainly was, and, believe me, I’ve made just about every mistake in the book. Don’t sweat this!

Your very first week of training behind the bar will introduce you to most all of the ways that customers will call out their drink orders. Pretty simple stuff, and your biggest problem will probably be trying to hear them over the noise.

All of the below terms used to call out drinks are also found in the “Bar Terms and Slang” section of the course – Section 20, but I add much more personalized detail here.

Most customers will tell you exactly what they want, and are very forgiving if you pour the drink into a wrong glass, or garnish with a lemon wedge instead of a lime. They’ll let you know. And, the bar owner may have limited glassware types. You’ll learn all of this your first week on the job

Bar Customers Have Unique Ways Of Ordering Drinks

Here we go….and there’s a special section on Martini’s, Old Fashioned’s, and Manhattan’s following the below list.

ShakeWhether you’re using a shaker or a tin and glass – just add ice and shake for a bit. Strain into a chilled (hopefully) glass. Simple. “Give me a Grey Goose Martini.” “Would you like that shaken, stirred, or on the rocks?”

Stir. Ice, liquor and mixer (if required), in a tin or a mixing glass. Stir with the bar spoon and strain into a chilled glass. Some will ask that you stir and pour over rocks. Give them what they want. Busy bartenders will sometimes just “swirl” and strain. I have – quick and easy. Customers will say, “Just stir it.” “Don’t shake it.”

Build. Old-time term. “Hey Mark! Build me one!” Old-school regulars like to do this. Could be any kind of drink, but usually something in a highball or bucket glass. Simply add ice and then “build” the cocktail with the rest of the ingredients.

On-the-Rocks. Over ice. Customers may call this after any type of drink. “Give me a Margarita rocks, no salt.” “Scotch rocks!” Automatically make the drink in a rocks glass, and beware of those customers saying something like, “Jack on the Rocks – in a bucket!”

Strong. Careful here. Many customers will add this to their order, “Hey Buddy – give me a strong Jim Beam and coke.” Nope. Pour according to bar policy.

WeakPour weak. “Strong” means pour what house policy dictates. “Weak” means pour it weak – just like the customer asks. Simply ask them if they would like it “tall.” Good, experienced bartenders know what’s really going on here. I go into greater detail elsewhere in this course.

Double. Double the alcohol – double the price. Some bars may have a discount for the second added shot – most don’t. I wouldn’t. “Double gin and tonic.” “Bourbon rocks – make it a double.” Keep in mind the different sizes of your glassware and use the appropriate one.

Neat. Pour the liquor straight into a glass. Usually a rocks glass – not a shot glass. Glass is NOT chilled. The proper use of the term is with one liquor only and NEVER a mixed drink. Not to be confused with a drink served “Up.” “Give me a single-malt neat.” Some will ask for a single ice cube. Experienced bartenders will argue about this all the time.

Straight Up. Confusing term, huh? This is where you need to ask the customer what he wants – specifically. Chilled? A shooter? “Southern Comfort Straight up!” What do you do? I would pour it just like “Neat,” above – but the type of liquor he’s calling will give you a clue. Again, experienced bartenders will argue about the true meaning of this term.

Straight. Very much like the above term, but they probably mean in a shot glass or rocks glass – no ice. “Straight Bourbon.” “Bourbon, straight.” I would pour it in an unchilled rocks glass unless it’s brandy or cognac – pour that into a snifter.

Side Note: The above three terms are obviously very similar. My recommendation: Put all of them in a rocks glass. Never chilled. 2 ounces, and bump the price just like an “on-the-rocks” drink. Simple.

Up. Manhattan Up. Martini Up. Don’t confuse with “Neat.” There’s usually some sort of mixing going on here with more than one liquor or mixer. Could be served chilled – or not. “Dude! Stoli Martini Up!”

Blend. Using the electric blender. Some bartenders believe “blend” simply means mixing up some kinds of drinks. Not on my watch. Margaritas, sours, daiquiris. Most bars have an electric blender and an electric mixer. You’ll use one or the other depending upon the drink. ”I’d like a frozen Strawberry Margarita.”

Roll: Make the drink in a tin or mixing glass, pour it back and forth using another mixing glass – and then pour into the proper glass. Not a lot of this going on in most bars – we’re shaking!

Tall. Simply means use a tall glass. DOES NOT mean pour more liquor! Many customers are a bit confused about this – and expect more liquor. Your boss will disagree. I’ve found that most customers do understand that there is no added liquor – and just want the drink to last longer. Or they wish to weaken it a bit. Or, they’re thirsty. “Give me a tall screwdriver!”

ShortJust what it says. “Give me a short bourbon water.” Use a rocks glass. Very similar to “Scotch, splash of water.” However, you better ask them if they want ice.

Muddle: Simply “mashing up” fruit, herbs, spices, mint, rinds, nuts – whatever the  bar uses. “Could you muddle some mint into my drink?” Actually, they probably won’t use the term “muddle” – because they don’t know what it means.

Rim. Usually means rim the glass with lime juice and then sugar or salt. “Rim it with sugar, please.”

Dirty. Pour a little olive juice in the drink. For martinis, add it initially and then shake or stir. Many customers that call this simply want no vermouth. “I’d like a dirty vodka martini – up.”

No ice. Means just that. Make the normal drink – just don’t add any ice. Popular with older folks. A senior bartender once pointed out to me that some people have “tooth” problems and cold stuff hurts! Of course, you will get the occasional customer who believes that it means add more alcohol. Nope.

Float. This comes last. “Put a 151 float on that!” About 1/4 ounce. After making the drink, simply add a little liquor to the top. ALWAYS charge more! I do, but make sure you know what House Policy dictates.

Layer. Usually in some type of shot or cordial glass. “Kalua and cream – layered!” Simply use the back of your bar spoon to pour one liquor on top of another. Some bars get quite fancy with this. Once in a while, you’ll get some smart*** calling this (usually one of your buddies or a regular), when you’re incredibly busy.

Twist. “I’d like a Beefeater martini with two olives and a twist.” They mean a lemon twist. Pour the drink, then “twist” the lemon peel/rind over the drink. If you look closely, you’ll see the rind release its oils. Supposedly adds “character” to the drink.

Squeeze. Usually means a lime wedge – but could be lemon. “Give me a plain soda with a squeeze.” Many customers will call out, “Give me a vodka tonic with a twist.” They probably mean a lime “squeeze,” and it doesn’t hurt to ask. “You got it – twist of lemon, or squeeze of lemon or lime?”

Martini’s, Manhattan’s, And Old Fashioned’s

Martini’s, Old Fashioned’s, and Manhattan’s have become incredibly popular these last 10 years or so. With the addition of flavored vodka’s and Schnapps – and an influx of new whiskey’s from all over the world – look out!

Martini bars are popping up all over the place. Craft Bars seem to be obsessed with Manhattan’s and Old Fashioned’s. I’m going to try and keep things simple for you here, as most bars will have a standard recipe for each. Go with the flow.

Most Martini’s and Manhattans are made in the same type of glass. A cocktail or “Martini” glass if made “Up,” and a rocks glass for on-the-rocks. Easy.

Old Fashioned’s are usually always on the rocks – and in a slightly different type of glass: The “Old Fashioned” glass. However, most bars do not carry this specific type of glass so they use a rocks glass or a “small bucket.”

All three of these drinks will most likely be the same price in most bars.

All About Martini’s

You better know how to make a good martini. Your bar customers are more particular about this type of drink than probably any other.

The Standard Recipe:

  • 2 1/2 ounces Gin
  • 1/4 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • Shake in a mixing glass and tin with cubed ice
  • Pour into a chilled cocktail glass
  • Add an olive on a cocktail pick for garnish

That’s it. The standard Martini recipe. If the customers call it on the rocks, simply pour all ingredients over ice in a rocks glass.

Side Note: I have observed bartenders first shaking or stirring the dink and THEN pouring over the rocks. There’s nothing wrong with that, I guess, but when I have a 2-deeper I’m sticking with the quickest way out.

You have to know how to make a good martini. But first things first. Your customer requests a martini. Now, you’re going to get this a lot. “Hey man! Give me a martini!” Ok – vodka or gin? Shaken or stirred? On the rocks? Do you want vermouth? Beefeater or Grey Goose?

Lots of things you don’t know here, and you can’t guess. You need to make sure you’re on the same page as your customer – and that means asking questions. Customers are very particular about their Martini’s!

I would always say something like this, ” How about some Bombay shaken with a twist?” The customer will then clarify exactly what he wants. A simple question like this solves a lot of problems. Here’s why:

By asking this question you have distinguished between vodka and gin. You have just performed an “upsell,” and also determined if the drink will be shaken, stirred, or on the rocks. Put a splash of vermouth in as well as an olive – and you’re gold.

Of course, once you do ask that initial question, the customer will probably then decide that he better get more specific. Perfect. You now know exactly what he wants.

The same goes for Manhattan’s (and Old Fashioned’s for that matter). Just remember to get specific.

Martini Terms and Slang

Dry. Less vermouth. Counterintuitive, but it is what it is!

Extra Dry. No Vermouth

Perfect. A dash of both Sweet Vermouth and Dry Vermouth

Sweet. Sweet Vermouth only

Wet. Add more Dry Vermouth

Dirty. Add a little olive juice to the drink

Side Note. Remember that a “Gibson” is simply a Martini garnished with a pickled onion instead of an olive. Old school!

All About Manhattan’s

Manhattan’s and Old Fashioned’s are very similar to each other- with small differences. Big differences if you work in a fancy craft bar.

Bartenders frequently get these mixed up (even experienced bartenders), because the lines have blurred. Craft Bars are all over the place on these recipes. Let’s talk Manhattan’s here.

The Standard Recipe:

  • 2 1/2 ounces Bourbon (Or Whiskey)
  • 1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Shake in a mixing glass and tin with cubed ice
  • Pour into a cocktail glass (Just like a Martini)
  • Cherry for garnish

Personally, I have made most Manhattan’s on the rocks and the majority of Martini’s “Up.”

It is my understanding that the original recipe called for Rye Whiskey. These days, it can be any kind of whiskey – your customer will call it. Otherwise, I always used bourbon.

“Give me an Irish Manhattan – Up!”

“Jack Daniels Manhattan on the rocks!”

“Maker’s Mark Manhattan up – hold the bitters!”

Manhattans, like Martinis have three “styles.” Can be regular (sweet) as shown above or Dry (use Dry Vermouth), or Perfect (use both dry and sweet vermouth). Cherry – Olive – Lemon Twist garnishes for the different types.

Side NoteScotch Manhattan’s are called “Rob Roy’s.”

            Rocks glass, but can be “Up.” Just a teaspoon of water. 2 ½ Ounces. Some bartenders insist on only one ice cube. Old Fashioned’s and Manhattans are very similar, and customers get mixed up. The lines have crossed. It got so I would ask people exactly what they wanted.

All About Old Fashioned’s

The Standard Recipe:

  • 2 1/2 ounces Bourbon
  • One sugar cube
  • Two dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Dash plain water
  • Orange Peel (or slice) and a cherry

Put a sugar cube in an old fashioned glass (usually a rocks glass or a small “bucket”), add a couple dashes of bitters and a little splash of plain water. Smash it around a bit (Muddle) until the sugar is dissolved. Pack the glass with cubed ice and add the whiskey. Garnish with orange peel and cherry.

Most all Old Fashioned’s are on the rocks.

If you’re following along in the Basic Bartending Course:

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