The Right Way To Ask The Bartender For A Surprise Drink

Walking up to the bar and ordering a surprise drink can be an exciting and adventurous experience, but it's crucial to strike the right balance between spontaneity and guidance. When done right, ordering a surprise drink can lead to delightful discoveries. When done wrong, it can result in disappointment for both you and the bartender. The key to ordering a surprise drink is to give the bartender some direction without prescribing every detail. 

"It's really helpful if you can tell your bartender another drink that you've had that you love, or at the very least a spirit and flavor profile so that they have a good starting point to make you a drink that you'll enjoy," says Lex Madden, bar manager at Point Easy in Denver.

"Good descriptors to use are things like 'spirit-forward,' 'fruity,' 'juicy,' 'tart,' or 'on the sweeter side,' and try and choose just one spirit you want to drink," Madden explains. "While there's a good chance multiple spirits and liqueurs will find their way into your drink, it can get confusing for bartenders to navigate a surprise drink that must have whiskey and gin and tequila in it." 

Whether you're ordering a surprise drink or a specific one, always let the bartender know if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. This information is critical to ensuring your safety and enjoyment. Bartenders take allergies seriously and will make every effort to accommodate your needs.

Without direction, you might not like what you get

Bartenders often cringe when someone simply requests a "strong" drink. This term is subjective and can lead to a hasty mix that's overly boozy and lacks balance. Instead, focus on flavor profiles and preferences to help the bartender craft a well-balanced surprise drink that suits your taste.

Ordering a surprise drink the wrong way can frustrate bartenders, especially during a busy rush. Avoid vague requests like "make me something fun" or "surprise me," as these can result in generic, uninspired concoctions. Similarly, you might receive a random shot that will most likely lead to an unsatisfying experience.

Another thing to keep in mind when ordering a surprise cocktail is that it might take a little extra time. "When you order a surprise, you should expect it to take a little bit longer than a drink ordered off of the menu," Lex Madden told Tasting Table, "So be patient and trust that it will be worth it." 

Bartenders are skilled artisans who take pride in crafting exceptional drinks. Trust their expertise and creativity to surprise you with a concoction that's tailored to your taste buds. Remember, the bartender is there to ensure you have a memorable experience, so communicate your preferences clearly and let them work their magic.