The Telltale Sign A Bar Isn't Worth Your Time

Just like you'd want to stay away from restaurants with "D" health ratings or dirty dishes, there are plenty of signs that a bar isn't serving drinks up to par. For example, if your pint of beer tastes moldy or smells, that's a surefire way to tell the bar doesn't clean their tap well enough, according to VinePair. Or if the bar is littered with empty glasses, napkins, and other trash, that's another sign that the bartender isn't too concerned with cleanliness (via Maryland Bartending).

Some of the indicators of a low-quality bar are less obvious from the barstool seats. According to Art of Drink, scooping ice with the glass, using sour drink mix instead of lemon or lime juice, and garnishing single malt scotch with lime are also red flags of a neglectful bartender. Of course, as with any other profession, bartenders have varying levels of expertise. 

Requirements for serving alcohol vary by state — in California, for example, just a two-hour training course can help hopefuls become certified (via Serving Alcohol Inc.). However, a bartender's cocktail expertise, customer service skills, and industry experience can all impact the quality of the drinks they make. And whether you're visiting a dive bar or a fancy lounge, there is one lesser-known sign that an establishment isn't worth your time.

Vermouth shouldn't be stored on the shelf

If you're wondering whether a bar takes good care of their alcohol, look no further than their vermouth. While a lower-quality bar may keep vermouth out on the shelf, it should really be stored in the fridge for optimal taste and freshness, according to Food & Wine

"If you spot a dusty bottle of vermouth on the back bar, that's Dark Ages stuff," mixologist Abigail Deirdre Gullo told the outlet. Storing it in the fridge is important because vermouth is technically a wine, and therefore oxidizes once it's been opened, GQ shares. Even in the fridge, it will only retain its flavor and aroma for up to a month.

So while vermouth appears in delicious drinks like martinis and negronis, you shouldn't actually see bottles of it all from your barstools. At home, however, there is one instance where it is acceptable to leave vermouth out on the counter. If you're cooking with the liquor, dry vermouth can last for a few months once opened, before the taste changes significantly, explains MasterClass

Vermouth can be an excellent replacement for white wine in any dish, although it has a slightly stronger flavor. But if you can't fathom making another martini with your open bottle, try adding it to fish, pork chop, and chicken recipes (via Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts).