A guy walks into a bar...he orders a daiquiri.. What happens next? Well, it depends where he ordered said daiquiri. No, really…it depends.
Today’s cultural climate is one of indulgence and largely based on personal style. Everyone is wanting to make a statement, whether it’s coping the latest Yeezy Pirate Black’s, or ordering a PBR while out in Highland Park. At the end of the day, no matter what decision you make… you should be happy with it. So, from a gentleman to another gentleman.. let’s just ask this one simple question… ‘WWDDD’? What Would Don Draper Do? No, scratch that.. he would just order a terribly made Old Fashioned.
There doesn’t always have to be, but sometimes…there’s just more to it.
AT A BUSY DIVE BAR
Order Swiftly… If you don’t know what you want, you’ll end up with a lot you don’t. Like a rushed interaction. The wrong spirit. The wrong mixer. A bad pour, or just a blatant “Next!” Know what spirit you want, whether it’s the well, Jameson or Grey Goose. Let’s try and steer clear of the Manhattan’s and Mai Tai’s. …and not because we are going to assume he or she doesn’t know how to make one, but there is always a time and a place… this ain’t it! Let’s show some gentleman-like courteousness, and set the guy or gal on the other end up for success.
Wrong: “I’ll have a Tonic with Gin”
Right: “I’ll have a Beefeater and Tonic with two limes, please.”
AT A WEDDING
Order Courteously… This one is easy. Simply put… If there’s a menu… order from it! The lovely bride and groom didn’t spend all that money on the bar, and some Joe Schmo to make a cocktail menu, so you can show up and order a Red Bull and Vodka. Regardless of how it tastes, remember!…it always tastes “good”, if not “great”. Don’t be a dick…this ain't your wedding. Weddings can already be high stress for the bride and the groom.. the last thing Mrs. Newlywed needs is some douchebag critique on how Cocktail #2 could have used more lime juice.
Wrong: “You guys seriously don’t have Bulleit Bourbon?”
Right: “The ‘Berry Happy Together’ sounds delicious. I’ll take one, please. ”
AT A COCKTAIL BAR
Order with Faith… don’t be scared. Your bartender is there to help you. He or she should be anyway. Majority of the time, this day and age, he or she are going to know what they’re doing. If you have a question, ask it. If you feel like something spicy, ask for it. But by Lord Baby Jesus, don’t create your own cocktail using one from the menu as a base riff. The cocktail menu’s list was probably something that someone took time in making. The specific measurements and ingredients are hopefully with reason. If you don’t want to order as is, the bartender will most likely be more than happy to guide you in the right direction, and who knows.. Maybe you’ll find your next new favorite drink!
Wrong: “Can I get the ‘Death in the Gulf Stream’, but with 3 more ounces of lime juice”
Right: “Can I get a Bartender's Choice. Rye, Strong and Stirred, please.”
OUT WITH THE FELLAS
Order simply. There’s two schools of thought on this one. Either way, keep it simple, and enjoy ya night out with the fellas! Let the day you just had, and the night you want to have dictate your decision. When you just want to unwind and have some fun, you can always default to a Gin and Soda with a fresh lime. I prefer Beefeater. When you want to kick it up a notch, or you know you’re going to call the night sooner than your comrades, splurge. Sit neat and sip beautifully. Try a beautiful Japanese Whiskey with a few drops of H2O, or maybe ask the bartender what are some of their personal favorite sippers. Either way, keep it easy and order something that’s easily sippable, sessionable and you can throw back if someone says we’re about to skip this joint!
Wrong: “I’ll take a Cosmopolitan in a really difficult to carry martini glass. Thanks." Right: “I’ll have a Nikka Yoichi with one Ice Cube, please.”
OUT WITH CO-WORKERS
Order cautiously…Short and Simple. Do. Not. Get. Drunk. It serves no purpose here. Is it a terrible idea? Maybe not. But it will be once it is. Slamming pickle backs with Cindy from Marketing isn’t a game you want to play. Get it? Good. Go low ABV. Beer or Wine. Loosen up and take it easy, but know your limit, and get out of there when you’ve hit it! I promise you, you’ll always be glad you did.
Wrong: I’ll take 8 tequila shots! Whooo!”
Right: “I’ll have a glass of the house white, please.”
ON A DATE
Order Smart… go with pairings. Start with a Negroni to not only get rid of the jitters, but to stimulate that palate for what’s to follow. Be real on your date. Open every door, and drink wine. Yup. That’s right. Go wine. Here are a few easy pairings so you know what you’re doing.
• Veggies and/or Delicate Apps – Dry or Sparkling White
• Cheeses to Starches – Sweet and/or Rich White
• Delicate Fish – Dry, Rich and/or Sparkling White
• Rich Fish – Light Red and/or Rich White
• White Meat – Rich White or Light to Medium Red
• Red Meat – Medium to Bold Red
• Dessert – Sweet White or Straight Dessert Wine
Like everything else, there are always exceptions to the rules, and even with that …some rules are just meant to be broken. Remember, it is ok to ask questions! Don’t pretend like you know what you’re doing if you don’t. 99% of the time, that move doesn’t work... every time. *See what I did there? Whatever you choose on that fateful night, just make sure to hold open the door!
Wrong: “I’ll have a Seven and Seven.. I’ve been drinking them since my College days.”
Right: “Do you have any Bold Reds you could recommend?”
AT HOME – GUEST OR NO GUEST
Stay Classy… Listen, there is no better time to really throw down then when you are at home.
Why? Because it is the only time to throw down on YOUR very own cocktail. Know what you’re doing and if you don’t, then start learning. It is that easy. There are a multitude of recipes and databases with classic cocktail recipes that you can easily execute right in the comforts of your own home. Have fun, learn the classics, and then break rules! Know what YOU like and not what others like. Always have the staples, use quality ingredients, and don’t kill yourself trying to accumulate a magnificent home bar all at once. These things take time. Here are a few recipes to get you started.
• 2 Light Rum
• 1 Lime Juice
• .75 Simple Sugar
• Shake & Strain
• Lime Wedge – Coupe
• 2 Gin
• .75 Honey Syrup
• .75 Lemon Juice
• Shake & Strain
• Lemon Peel – Coupe
• 2 Bourbon
• .25 Simple Syrup
• Dash Angostura
• Dash Orange
• Build & Stir
• Orange Peel – Rocks
• 2 Rye
• .5 Punt e Mes
• .5 Maraschino
• Stir & Strain
• Cherry – Coupe
PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN KLEMM
• 1.5 Gin
• 1 Sweet Vermouth
• 1 Campari
• Stir & Strain
• Orange Peel – Coupe or Rocks
• 2 Cachaca
• 4 – 6 Lime Pieces
• Muddle, Shake & Dump
• Rocks (Cracked Ice)
To be a gentleman, you don’t have to be overtly sophisticated. You just have to be honest, simple and true. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, even when ordering a cocktail. Be chivalrous. Be Courteous. Be Honorable. Always say please and thank you, and remember….Don’t slam pickle backs with Cindy from Marketing!
Brian Klemm is an Event Beverage Consultant and Bar Director at James Beard Nominated Shibumi in Downtown Los Angeles. Former Beverage Director at Bicos Hospitality, some of his past clients include Snoop Dogg, Kevin Durant, Vanity Fair and RocNation.