How To Drink In a Craft Cocktail Bar: Five Tips

Categories: Five Great...
cocktailsup.jpg
Flickr user dinnerseries

You walk up to a bar to get a drink and you notice they've got six types of rye, one kind of vodka, a lineup of brown-glass medicine bottles with eyedroppers, infusing jars where the line of beers normally sits, and really freaking pretty ice. Congratulations: you've stumbled into a craft cocktail bar, a place where cocktails are created with the same precision and care as food in a high-end restaurant.

Great, so... now what? You want a drink, they want to serve you a drink, but you're at an impasse as to how to get one, because no two craft cocktail bars have the same offerings. I put the question to some of Orange County's top bartenders, and this is what they had to say.

5. Know what you're interested in.

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Flickr user weeklydig
"Something like a Negroni, but less like being punched in the coglioni by a projectile gall bladder, please."

"I don't like sweet drinks" is not a valid drink order. Neither, for that matter, is "I like gin." "I usually drink Manhattans, but I find them a little sweet," however, is often all a great bartender needs to get you the drink you never knew you craved. Know what you like and what you don't; just be specific.

4. Don't be afraid to send it back, and don't lie about whether you like it.

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Flickr user zperry
"Maybe it could be just a little bit--or a lot--less bitter, please?"

This is hard to do. We've all grown up with this idea that wasting alcohol is worse than wasting food, and so when the bartender comes down the rail and asks us how we like our intensely bitter admixture of Cynar, rye that's been filtered through a Kentucky raccoon's liver, and an unpronounceable Italian amaro, we smile grotesquely and mumble our appreciation.

This is crap. If you don't like it, send it back. You know where the line is between genuinely not liking something and being a needy pain in the behind; stay clear of that line and give the bartender your honest feedback. It's not an indictment of their skill; it's just a taste mismatch.

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13 comments
Newportblue65
Newportblue65

There's something to learn from this article. Talk to the barman.......

Justin Paul Veiga
Justin Paul Veiga

Great points. In reference to #1, always amazes me how often bartenders (and even more so servers and retail workers) get treated like service robots. Talk to them like humans and you'll probably meet someone nice and learn something new. Might even get a stiff pour. Not that you should be nice *in order* to get the stiff pour, but you know, it's a perk.

thesweetest3
thesweetest3

I never crave cocktails (wine is another story), but now you've got me thinking. It's 5 oclock somewhere.

Caroline on Crack
Caroline on Crack

I think these are great tips, especially for those who may be walking into a craft cocktail bar for the first time. They might find it intimidating but once they realize that bartenders just want to make a drink that they'll be happy with, it's all good.

Kwelch29
Kwelch29

Which bars would you consider to be worthy craft cocktail bars in La Naranja? 

Russell Sprague
Russell Sprague

#1 is a fantastic tip. Some of my best evenings at cocktail bars have come from chatting with bartenders and getting their personal take on things.  Often, they'll have their own concoction not on the menu that they think is fantastic and will be happy to make for you if you're pleasant enough.

Bozo
Bozo

Captain Dave Obvious is at it again.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

As a partial list, 320 Main, Two 40 South, Mesa, Broadway, Charlie Palmer, Memphis at the Santora... please, commenters, add to this because if there's one thing I never get enough of no matter how many I have, it's awesome cocktails.

(OK, wow, that last sentence reads like I need an intervention. But you get the idea.)

Bill T.
Bill T.

I obviously don't come up to your standard of hepness and appreciate the tips on how to improve.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Wanna pick one name to spew your stupidities, or want us to boot your sock-puppet ass?

hunter_christopher
hunter_christopher

Bar 220 behind the Derby in Misson Viejo has a large craft cocktail menu, but if you like rye and feel like having your mind blown ask for the Dr. then ask for a Cortona with whistle pig!

Kwelch29
Kwelch29

Thanks Dave.  I will be checking these out soon. 

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