Whether you drink or not, doing so well (or at least knowing how to do it well) can be important in a number of social contexts.

Here are some basic points I’ve collected over the years.

  • Decide what you want before you go to the bar; don’t make the bartender or anyone else wait

  • Order the alcohol first, and the mixer second

  • Say the name of the brand first

  • To signal the bartender, have payment ready and lean in

  • The right way to order is like so: “Belvedere and Tonic”, or “Grey Goose and Tonic”

  • If you’re ordering lots of stuff, start with cocktails, then go to wines, then end with beers (that said, Guinness earlier because it takes a long time to pour)

  • Know that you’re being annoying if you constantly order water. You should be getting drinks as well with it

  • Even if you’re paying with cash, give the bartender a credit card. Say something like, “I’m paying with cash, but you can hold onto this until then.”

  • If the bar is busy, order more simply; it’s nice to the bartender and to the other patrons

  • Always toast before doing a shot

  • Whoever buys the shot gets the first chance to offer a toast

  • Do not make eye-contact with the bartender if you don’t want a drink

  • If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to drink in a bar. Go to the liquor store

  • Never tip with coins that have touched you. If your change is $1.50, you can tellthe barmaid to keep the change, but once she has handed it to you, you cannot give it back. To a bartender or cocktail waitress, small change has no value

  • Asking a bartender what beers are on tap when the handles are right in front of you is the equivalent of saying, “I’m an idiot.”

  • Unless you’re a regular, don’t ask for names

  • A flask engraved with a personal message is one of the best gifts you can ever give. And make sure there’s something in it


  • Back means non-alcohol chaser, by itself. E.g.: Shot of Jack Daniel’s with a Coke back.

  • Chilled means cold. How about that.

  • Dirty means with olive juice

  • Double means twice the liquor

  • Dry means it’s made with dry vermouth and it’s used in gin and vodka martinis

  • Frozen means blended

  • Neat means without ice and in an old-fashioned glass

  • On the rocks is with ice. Makes sense.

  • Sweet means made with sweet vermouth

  • Top Shelf means with expensive alcohol, e.g., Top Shelf Long Island Ice Tea

  • Up means chilled and strained into a martini glass

  • With a twist means to add a twist of lemon

  • Coat the rim of the glass with kosher salt


  1. Cîroc (France, wine-like, five-times distilled)

  2. Belvedere (Polish rye vodka, made in Poland)

  3. Tito’s Handmade Vodka (Made in Austin, Texas, named for the creator’s (Bert Butler) nickname by his Hispanic nannies)

  4. Türi (Estonia, four-times distilled, smooth and clean with a mild and peppery aftertaste)

  5. Grey Goose (Made in France, considered to be overpriced)


  1. Tangqueray London Dry (London, now Scotland)

  2. Beefeater (England)

  3. Bombay Dry (England)

  4. Broker’s London Dry (England)

Favorite Drinks

  1. Mezcal Mule with Sombra

  2. Moscow Mule with Belvedere

  3. Tanqueray and Tonic


  1. Ask the bartender if you can buy them a shot. Choose something bartenders like, perhaps Fernet Branca or Jameson (HT @JS)

  2. If you’re going to have any sort of regular presence, start with one drink and leave a $5 tip, regardless of what you ordered

  3. The bartender is always right; if she says you’re being too loud, you are. Even if you’re not. Do what she/he says and come back another time. They’ll respect that you respected them


  1. I’m not an expert on this stuff. I’m an advanced n00b who likes to understand things, so this is a work in progress.

  2. Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Order-a-Drink-at-a-Bar

  3. Source: http://www.drunkard.com/86-rules-of-boozing/

  4. Source: http://www.sfgate.com/wine/cocktailian/article/10-rules-to-drink-by-Good-etiquette-in-any-bar-3674604.php

  5. A Well Drink is the cheapest alcohol available.

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