How to Order Mixed Drinks at the Bar

Knowing how to order mixed drinks at the bar is very important. You have to let the bartender know exactly what you want to drink so he/she doesn't make something different.

Ordering Drinks

Liquor Always First

When you order a mixed drink, always name the liquor first.

Example: Jack and Coke, Cape Cod, Captain and Coke, Gin and Tonic, Screwdriver, etc.

Common Mistake: When some people order Vodka Red Bull, they call it Red Bull Vodka. Why? One day somebody ordered a Double Red Bull and Vodka, so I asked him, "Do you want double Red Bull and single Vodka or a double Vodka and Red Bull?"

Note: Look at any mixed drink recipe book and you'll see that the liquor is always named first, then the juices or soft drinks. When bartenders make mixed drinks, they always pour the liquor first, then the juice or soft drink.

Name the Brand First

If you like a mixed drink with a particular brand, name the brand first.

Example: If you like to drink Vodka and Tonic and you like Belvedere, order a Belvedere and Tonic instead of Vodka and Tonic with Belvedere.

Personal Experience: One day a lady came to my bar and ordered like this, "May I have a Vodka Cranberry... Stoli and Orange Juice." I thought that she wanted a Vodka Cranberry and a Stoli Orange Juice. She actually meant a Stoli Cranberry and a plain Orange Juice.

Don't Assume Anything

Don't assume that all the bartenders make the drinks exactly the same way, because they don't.

There are many variations of the same mixed drink recipe and many bartenders make the drinks differently.

Example: A Lemon Drop Martini

Some bartenders use:
Citrus Vodka, Triple Sec, Lemon Juice and Sugar or
Citrus Vodka, Triple Sec, Sweet and Sour Mix and Sugar or
Vodka, Triple Sec, Lemon Juice and Sugar or
Vodka, Triple Sec, Sweet and Sour Mix and Sugar, etc.

If you like your drink to be made a certain way, ask the bartender to make it the way you want it.

Types of Drinks

Well Drink

A well drink is a drink made with the cheapest liquor available at the bar.

Example: If you order a Rum and Coke, you get the cheapest rum and Coke. You do not get Bacardi and Coke.

Note: Next time you go to a Happy Hour and you order a drink, you know that you will get the cheapest liquor available at that bar.

Keep in Mind: If you go to a bar and order a drink without specifying a liquor, you will get the cheapest liquor for your drink. In other words, you get a well drink.

Do you want to know more about well drinks?

Call Drink

A call drink is a drink made with a specified liquor. You call for a liquor to be used in your drink.

Example: Bacardi and Coke, Jack and Coke, Stoli and Cranberry, Tanqueray and Tonic, etc.

Careful: If you call for the most expensive liquor, your drink will become a premium drink and not a call drink

Note: If you are not sure about the drink that you want to order is a call drink or premium drink, ask the bartender and he/she will let you know.

Premium Drink

A premium drink is a drink made with an expensive liquor.

Example: Grey Goose and Tonic, a Patron shot, Cadillac Margarita etc.

Note: This is also called a top shelf drink.

Draught Beer (Draft Beer or Tap Beer)

Draught beer, draft beer or tap beer, is beer drawn from a metal barrel (keg).

Note: The most common name is draft beer or tap beer. I prefer calling it draft beer.

House Wine

House wine is referred to the less expensive wine at the bar or restaurant.



Back means a non-alcoholic chaser. It is often used when a person orders a shot of a straight liquor and wants a water, soda or juice chaser to go with the shot.

Example: Let's assume you want a shot of Jack Daniel's and you want to chase it with a glass of Coke. This is how you would order it, "May I get a shot of Jack Daniel's with a Coke back."

Example 2: You want a shot of tequila and a glass of water. You order it like this, "May I get a shot of tequila with a water back."


Chilled means cold. It is used when ordering shots of a liquor.

Example: A chilled shot of tequila or a chilled shot of whiskey.

How to chill a shot of a liquor?
Pour the liquor into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a shot glass.

Note: Chilling a liquor adds a little bit of water to it.


Dirty means with olive juice, and it's used in gin martinis and vodka martinis.

Example: Dirty Martini


Double means double the liquor. In other words, two shots of liquor in one drink.

Example: A double shot of tequila means two shots of tequila served in one big shot glass.


Dry means with dry vermouth, and it's used in gin martinis and vodka martinis.

Example: Dry Martini

Note: Dry does not mean without vermouth. If you don't want vermouth, order a gin up or vodka up.

Frozen / Blended

Frozen means blended.

Example: Frozen Margarita

Careful: If you order a Margarita at a bar, don't assume that it is going to be blended. If you really want a blended Margarita, order a Frozen Margarita and if you really want a Margarita with ice, order a Margarita on the rocks.


Neat means without ice and in an old-fashioned glass. It is used when ordering a liquor by itself.

Example: If somebody orders a Scotch neat, that person wants Scotch by itself and in an old-fashioned glass.

Another Name: Some people say, "Straight Up" when they want a liquor by itself. This could be in an old-fashioned glass or in a shot glass.

Note: If somebody asks for "neat" do not pour the liquor into a shot glass. It has to be poured into an old-fashioned glass so it could be drank by little sips.

On the Rocks

On the rocks means with ice.

Example: Whiskey on the rocks, Margarita on the rocks, etc.

Note: If you pour a liquor on the rocks, use an old-fashioned glass. An old-fashioned glass is also known as a "rocks glass" because it is used to serve single liquors on the rocks.


Sweet means with sweet vermouth and it's used in gin martinis and vodka martinis.

Example: Sweet Martini


Tall means in a bigger glass. If you order a tall drink, you get the same amount of liquor, but with more juice or soda.

Example: Tall Screwdriver, Tall Cape Cod, Tall Jack and Coke, Tall Gin and Tonic, etc.

Careful: Not all the drinks can be made tall drinks.

Which drinks can be made tall drinks?
Drinks that come in Highball glasses can be made tall by using Collins glasses.

Note: If you don't like strong drinks, you may ask your bartender to make your drink a tall drink.

Top Shelf

Top shelf means premium. It means to use the best liquors available at the bar.

Example: Top Shelf Long Island Iced Tea


Up means chilled and strained into a martini glass.

Example: Stoli Up, Absolut Up, Sapphire Up, etc.

Note: If you want a martini without vermouth, order a gin up or vodka up.

With a Twist

This means to add a twist, usually a lemon twist, to the drink.

With Salt

This means to coat the rim of a glass with kosher salt.