How to Order Drinks at the Bar Without Embarrassing Yourself



  • Edgar says:

    Usually we can ask for a cold drink or a hot drink, but how can I ask for a bottle of water that isnt cold nor hot?

  • Rhett says:

    Thanks for the tips. Have a question:

    Is there any line for ordering an alcohol beverage and the mixing drink in two separate glasses?

  • Abel says:

    Thanks a day, i attended the bar i didn’t know how to order a drink .that day, i was boring but today that you help me to know how to do it it’s a great chance because i will not meet my water loo again.i would like to thank you for everything you do .

  • Thiha says:

    Good tips! Thank you!

How To Order From the Starbucks Secret Menu

Since Starbucks baristas aren’t trained in making secret menu items, you MUST give them the recipe instead of the name of the drink. Here’s the best way to order: 

  1. Size (short, tall, grande, venti, trenta)This will also help the barista determine which cup to use, which they need to write all the drink modifications on. See Starbucks drink sizes here.
  2. Base drinkThis is a drink that is on the regular menu that’ll get customized.
  3. SubstitutionsHere is where you make any substitutions like using milk instead of water.
  4. Additions and toppingsAny add-ons like extra hot, add whipped cream, and caramel drizzle come last.


Gin and tonic

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Gin has a love-it-or-hate-it kind of reputation. Some people dig its citrusy, piney flavor and aroma while others find drinking it to be akin to chewing on a handful of pine needles. If you’re not a gin fan, you’ll want to skip right past this drink; there’s really no covering up gin’s assertive flavor by mixing it with the eclectic flavors in tonic water. You could always order a vodka tonic, but the gin and tonic is one of our favorite cheap mixed drinks to order at a bar. 

There are some great gin brands out there, and most of them won’t break the bank like tequila or whiskey. Many bars use New Amsterdam as their well gin, which is not only super inexpensive but it’s also an award-winning gin. It received excellent scores from Beverage Testing Institute and Wine Enthusiast, and it also earned medals at San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Mix a gin like this with the bitter-sweet flavors of tonic water, add in a spritz of fresh lime, and you’ll be drinking on the cheap all night long.

Other Less Needed Terms

Back – To have a “back” of something means something to follow a drink, also called a chaser.  When you order a Maker’s Mark neat you may want a “back of water” to sip between sips of the whiskey.

Dirty – Pertains typically to Martinis, and means that olive brine is added to the Martini.

Dry, Very Dry – Refers to the amount of Vermouth in a cocktail, specifically a Martini.  Dry has some vermouth, and Very Dry has almost none.

Olives, Onions, Twists – When ordering a Martini you should specify if you want Olives, Cocktail Onions (and how many…”2 onions please”) or a Twist, which is just the peel of the lemon.  For other drinks you can specify a Lemon or Lime, which means you will get a wedge, or a Twist.

5. Coffee and tea (Café y té)

Enough of alcoholic drinks, you could also order an innocent drink to quick start your day, enjoy a little snack or do some work in a coffee shop.

We have an entire blog of how to order coffee in Spanish like a local, so you should check it out if you want to be absolutely prepared to order a coffee without any trouble. Some examples are:

Café con leche – Coffee with milk • Cortado – Espresso shot with milk • Café bombón – Espresso with milk and sweetened condensed milk • Carajillo – Espresso with a shot of whiskey

The coffee menu in Spain can be unnecessarily long and complicated and therefore a bit scary. But don’t worry, with our guide ordering a coffee in Spanish will be a piece of cake!

Regarding ordering a tea (té), you just need to specify the type of tea you want and if you need any sweetener or sugar with it. Easy peasy!

HowToOrder Vodka and Gin

When placing a drink order that is made with vodka or gin make sure you specify which top-shelf liquor you would like. Otherwise, your drink will typically be made with a low-quality liquor typically kept on the speed rail.  

If ordering a martini, be prepared to answer how you would like that made (e.g. dirty? Shaken?) 

3. Mixed drinks (Copas)

Everyone loves beer and wine, but sometimes you need something a bit stronger. Whether you’re ready to enjoy a nice drink after. Along day or pumping yourself up for a night out, it is important that you know how to order the perfect mixed drink at a bar.

When ordering a copa (mixed drink), it is important that you specify the brand of alcohol you want and the mixer. Some examples are:

1. Copa de gin-tonic: gin and tonic 2. Copa de ron cola: rum and cola

Getting The Bartenders Attention

For starters, waving money, snapping fingers, or (cringe) yelling is not the answer here.  As in most of life, a modicum of decency and respect goes a long way.  Make your way to a place at the bar where you can be seen.  Don’t stand behind five other guys on your tip toes trying to see what’s going on.  Then, with a smile on your face, attempt to make eye contact with the bartender.  If you will be ordering for more than just yourself, have enough money in your hand to indicate so, but please don’t wave it.  You’re not the only guy with $60 in his pocket.  Whatever the case, be prepared to order when the bartender gives you their attention.  Don’t be yelling back to your date or group asking what they want.

Drink Presentation 101

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Cocktails are supposed to not only taste great, but they should also look good. Small things like choosing the right glass and garnish will step up the look of every cocktail you make. 

There is not a one-size-fits-all glass for drinks, and different styles of drinks require different styles of glassware. You don’t need to stock every style. Instead, base your decisions on the types of cocktails you like to mix up most often.

Once you have the glasses, you will want to properly prepare them for your cocktails:

  • How to Chill a Glass: Every cold drink should go into a cold glass. Taking the time for this simple step is one of the tricks to getting your cocktails to taste like those of a professional bartender.
  • How to Rim a Glass: Do you enjoy a little salt with your margarita? Whether it’s sugar, salt, or some other flavoring, adding a custom rim to any glass is simple and enhances the experience.

Liquor vs. Liqueur

Distilled spirits are the alcoholic beverages used most often in the bar. These incorporate vodka, tequila, whiskey, etc., as well as all of the flavored liqueurs. Cocktail recipes will introduce you to many distilled spirits, including essential bottles that are stocked in a bar.

It is important to understand the difference between a liquor and a liqueurAgain, there is a sort of double meaning here: All liqueurs are a type of liquor, but not all liquors are liqueurs.

Liquors are distilled spirits. If an alcoholic beverage has gone through a still and comes out with a high alcohol content, it is a liquor. When that spirit is sweetened it becomes a liqueur.

2. Get Started with One of These Phrases

Now that you’ve had time to browse the menu and have an idea of what you want, it’s time to order!

When you approach the counter, you’ll want to say more than, “Coffee, please.” Here are a few simple phrases to help you order your coffee like a local.

Basic and polite

“Hello. I’d like a small latte, please.”

Quick and informal

“Could I have a medium coffee to go?” 

“Can I get a large mocha for here?”

“I’ll take a small coffee and a donut, please.”

Ask about the menu 

“Hello. Do you have any low-calorie drinks?” 

(cashier answers)

“Okay, I’d like a large green tea, please.”

Ask about the cashier—it’s a good way to practice friendly conversation

“Hi. How are you doing?”

(cashier answers)

“Great. Okay, I’d like a large black coffee to go, please.”

You can be prepared for a conversation about coffee (or small talk about the weather, or any other discussion you might want to have) with FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Click here to check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.


Best DrinksToOrder At A Bar

These drinks are considered classic for a reason and will never go out of style. Here are ten of the best ones to order: 

  • Cosmopolitan  
  • Moscow Mule 
  • Old Fashioned 
  • Whiskey Sour 
  • Sidecar 
  • Mint Julep 
  • Martini 
  • Manhattan 
  • Negroni 
  • Mojito 

Don’t forget to request your drink be made with Bogue Sound liquor. We promise the bartender won’t mind.  

Here is a list of bars and restaurants that stock our liquor. 

Former Secret Menu Drinks

These drinks were once on the secret menu (created by customers) but made it onto the official Starbucks menu. This means you can order them by name instead of by recipe.

  • Pink DrinkStrawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk.
  • Caramel Apple SpiceSteamed apple juice with cinnamon dolce syrup and whipped cream.
  • Cotton Candy FrappuccinoVanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino with raspberry syrup.
  • London FogEarl Grey tea with vanilla syrup and steamed milk.
  • Medicine Ball Tea/Cold Buster/Honey Citrus Mint TeaJade Citrus Mint tea and Peach Tranquility tea with honey and lemonade. See how to make the drink here.
  • Kiwi Starfruit LemonadeKiwi Starfruit Refresher with lemonade instead of water.
  • Strawberry Acai LemonadeStrawberry Acai Refresher with lemonade instead of water.
  • Mango Dragonfruit LemonadeMango Dragonfruit Refresher with lemonade instead of water.

4. Brush Up on Coffee Shop Etiquette

If it’s your first time going to a coffee shop in North America, here are some notes to help you learn coffee shop culture.

The Smithsonian also has a short, informative video about the history of coffee culture in the U.S.

  • In general, you’re expected to put sugar or sweetener (artificial sugar) in your drink after the cashier gives it to you. You can ask, “Where can I find the sugar/sweetener?” if you aren’t sure.
  • Often, the cashier will ask for your name. This is because the barista (the person making your coffee) will call your name out when your coffee is ready, so remember to listen for it.

Sometimes, they say the order instead. For example, instead of saying “Alex?” the barista will say, “Large latte to go?”

  • If you just ask for “coffee,” it’ll be brewed, black coffee. If you want espresso, you must order a coffee drink such as a cappuccino, latte, americano, etc., or “espresso” for a shot of espresso by itself. (Ordering a “double espresso,” or two shots of espresso, is also quite common.)
  • People are often in a hurry to get their coffee. If you need extra time to read the menu, step to the side of the line and tell the person behind you, “You can go ahead. I’m still deciding.”
  • If you’d like to plug your laptop or phone into a power outlet, it’s good etiquette to speak to the person or people sitting close to the power outlet. Simply say, “Hi, I need to plug in my laptop. Thanks.” before you reach across their table or behind their chair.

Southern Comfort and lime

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Southern Comfort is a New Orleans-made liquor inspired by an 1874 recipe. It’s not quite a bourbon, and it’s not quite a whiskey; in fact, it’s actually a bottled cocktail. North American whiskey is blended with citrus, honey, and spices to make a whiskey drink that’s sippable straight out of the glass — no mixers required. Add in fresh lime juice, though, and you have yourself a mixed drink that tastes fantastic and won’t break the bank.

SoCo and lime is also a popular shooter, so make sure to ask for it as a cocktail. You can also ask for a classic daiquiri made with Southern Comfort instead of rum, which would be slightly sweeter but still quite delicious. Don’t be afraid to mix Southern Comfort with other mixers, either. The base liquor is really inexpensive, so it’s a great choice when ordering cheap mixed drinks. Try mixing with cranberry juice and soda water, lemonade, or iced tea. It also makes a great play on a Jack and Coke; it has a sweeter flavor than regular whiskey, but it still pairs well with the bold flavors of Coca-Cola.