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Safe Drink List

Please help me avoid being socially awkward! Do you have any suggestions on what bar drinks to order in specific situations (out with the bosses, out with the SO's colleagues, friends or family, etc.)?

I am not a huge fan of wine, or else that would be the safest/easiest choice. I always find that cocktails with vodka is overpowering with what I think turpentine would taste like. I usually ask for a rum-based fruity drink and leave it up to the bartender, but they often don't like my indecision.

I need a list of classic drinks, that any semi-incompetent bartender would know! TIA

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  1. Rum and coke?
    Malibu and Cranberry?
    Cuba Libra?
    Captain Morgan's and Pineapple?

    These are all simple cocktails, ordered by ingredients. All have rum, and all are easy to drink.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dave and Stuff

      Thanks for your suggestions, Dave and Stuff. I actually like Malibu and pineapple (something about the coconut and pineapple flavours together -- very summery), but I feel like an unsophisticated kid ordering it! Maybe I just shouldn't care what I think others think.
      Not a fan of cola, so I don't order rum and coke (which is what I think Cuba Libre is basically?? plus lime juice).

      I guess I could just go back to a Rye & Ginger.

    2. Just a hunch, are you a beer drinker who is looking for something a little more sophisticated for certain social situations? I've been there. Where I can get it I like a black and tan, stout floated on top of pale ale ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_an... ). It's still beer but it looks impressive and often that's enough to pass.

      1 Reply
      1. re: inuksuk

        Thanks for your advice! If I had a beer, I'd probably only have one -- they're pretty filling, especially if you are layering it with Guinness! I don't mind a beer once in a while (prefer it to wine), and usually order a Keith's. Very smooth and not too bitter.

      2. Some you could try:

        Vodka tonic - Its not that overpowering with vodka, might be worth a try.
        White Russian
        Rob Roy - Good drink when the weather is cooler
        Seven and Seven

        1 Reply
        1. re: Scott M

          Mention of the Sidecar reminded me of this: http://waiterrant.net/?p=267
          Despite the associations, I think I'll try to remember the Sidecar, White Russian and Rob Roy for my next "occasion"s! Thanks!

          I forgot...Amaretto Sours are a safety drink for me too. I need to write out a list...

          1. One thing I often order is an amber rum with ginger ale. Almost all bars have ginger ale and an amber rum. Mount Gay is probably the most commonly available amber rum of decent quality. It's a very common drink among people who enjoy sailing, which is where I began to drink it. Rum and tonic with a good squeeze of lime or lemon also works ok.

            1. the op seems to be a very occasional drinker, who doesn't care for the taste of alcohol much, hence the preference for the sweeter, more tropical, "summery" rum-based drinks. for this reason, i'd advise against some of Scott M's list-- while classic, some of these cocktails are pretty intoxicating, probably not what the op is after when having cocktails with the boss or SO's colleagues. it's also a reason not to order "a rum-based fruity drink" from the bt-- when people would ask me for that item, i'd whip up a velvet hammer of a mixed rum punch, stick an umbrella and cherries in it, and tell them not to drink it too fast or they might have trouble walking. umbrellas and too many cherries in drinks are a cue to other barstaff: "watch out for me, i'm a complete yahoo," btw.

              jinxed is right, malibu-pineapple is a kid's drink-- as is rum/coke, morgan/coke (though you see lots of post-grad frat & sorority types drinking them too)--as is an amaretto sour, but it might taste good to the op, and you can get away with it in an italian restaurant.

              Captain's rec of mount gay with ginger ale is a good one for a lighter mixed cocktail. there is nothing wrong with rye and ginger or whiskey sours either. my apologies to Scott M, on second thought, a white russian might be good, too. a little more intoxicating, and caloric, though. maybe some fruitier cordial-based cocktails would taste good: chambord and soda, chamord/cran or chambord and 7. they are a little weird to order though.

              i almost hate to mention them, but some of the flavored vodkas are not bad at all, they can all be ordered with plain soda, 7up, or juices, and they effectively mask the "turpentiney" taste of some vodkas. i'm not talking about smirnoff twisters or crap like that-- try stoli raspberry with lemonade, absolute curant with cranberry or 7up, and if you do like white russians, ask for stoli vanilla instead of reg vodka the next time you order one. pretty much every bar will have these nowadays-- safe/easy/foolproof.

              6 Replies
              1. re: soupkitten

                Thanks for your insight and advice! Indeed, your take on me is quite correct (very occasional drinker). I *am* on the young side, but I don't want to scream it out with my drink order when I'm at my SO's work functions...and at the same time I'd like to drink something that I'd enjoy without looking like a ya-hoo. (ha! let me think of all the cherry'd drinks I've had! no umbrellas though..)

                I'll give vodka-based drinks another try with the Stoli raspberry and lemonade (sounds good!) and white russians.

                What does Bailey's on the rocks say about the drinker? (Honest assessment please! I really appreciate your comments -- good mentoring for moving away from sophomoric drinks.) Or maybe you can provide a list like waiterrant (matching drink to personality)

                1. re: jinxed

                  We chowhounds probably have a hard time with this board because I think most of us are pretty good little drinkers. I would find it disgusting to drink Bailey's before dinner (and, yes, I'd probably knock some points off if I saw you order that). If you really have no interest in drinking at all, please remember that there's no shame in ordering a sparkling water with some lime (chowhounds will just assume you're a recovered alcoholic), or just nurse a good ole gin or vodka and tonic. You don't like wine or beer at all?

                  1. re: ccferg

                    I don't mind a drink or two, but I just don't know what to order! I don't mind beer, but I only want it with greasy foods...and wine is fine paired with food, but I don't have more than a glass by itself. Still developing my palette..

                    I appreciate everyone's input in expanding my 'spirited' horizons!

                  2. re: jinxed

                    To me, Bailey's on the rocks says "I'm done with dinner." Ordering it before dinner is like having ice cream for the appetizer: It might sound fun, but doesn't really set things off on the right foot.

                  3. re: soupkitten

                    I tried a martini made with vodka (banff or skyy? i forget) with raspberry chambord and lime, and it went down quite nicely. No umbrellas or cherries!

                    1. re: jinxed

                      right on. :) hope you have a lot of fun with new cocktails--remember not to mix your liquors up too much on the same night, though!

                  4. Dark and stormy is a bit more sophisticated than most rum drinks and I think most bartenders are familiar with it -- ginger beer and rum.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ccferg

                      Hard to find a good one though -- most bars don't carry acceptable ginger beer.

                      My advice is to try to develop a taste for something like rum and tonic -- Mount Gay and Tonic is actually quite a nice drink.

                      1. re: Amuse Bouches

                        Violet Hour in Chicago is doing a great version of a Dark and Stormy

                    2. Rum and soda with a squeeze of lime not only sounds sophisticated bu is a great drink...

                      1. Baileys. on the rocks.

                        Perfect drink when out with others. It is a very classy as well as delicious drink. (and as a bartender I can assure you they can't screw it up)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                          Disagree with every element of your post.

                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                            as another bartender, i think the only time a bailey's on the rocks is acceptable (and then only barely) is as an after-dinner drink, while still sitting at the table. and before i poured it i'd tell the server to go back and double-card the person who ordered it.

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              Bailey's, "cider" and some blue concoction called a "blue lagoon" were my first (under-age) drinks in a Welsh pub, so I'll always associate it with my first taste of alcohol! That being said, Bailey's is a tasty but artery-clogging (50% cream!) drink that I usually have at a friend's house as part of a shot or on the rocks.

                          2. One consideration for work related drinking is not getting too plastered and telling the boss "waj-I-rilly-zhink-of-ya." That being the case, you might order an Americano--it's Campari w/soda (and in some cases a little sweet vermouth). It's a real drink with a cool sounding name, though not too strong. You might think it tastes a little medicinal, given the remark about vodka, but you should give it a go.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Poindexter

                              Haha, thanks for the suggestion! I'm familiar with the coffee drink by the same name, which is what I'd probably need after a few drinks -- I tend to get sleepy after an alcohol buzz, rather than loud and obnoxious (or so I'd like to think...)

                              1. re: Poindexter

                                An americano is actually campari, soda and sweet vermouth. It's a negroni minus the gin.

                                1. re: gini

                                  That's what I said, no? '...it's Campari w/soda (and in some cases a little sweet vermouth).'
                                  So actually it's a Negroni w/soda in lieu of gin, which is how Count Negroni took his Americanos.

                                  1. re: Poindexter

                                    You said "In some cases"... but an Americano is always served with Campari and an EQUAL PART of vermouth (not "a little bit"... the same amount). Otherwise, it is simply a Campari and soda.

                                    :o) It's all gooooooood.

                                2. re: Poindexter

                                  Be warned: I love to make Americanos (Americani?) at home, but each time I have tried to order one at a restaurant, I get a blank stare. Why bartenders don't just sneak a peak at a guidebook rather than embarass you by making you explain the recipe to them, is beyond me.

                                  I suggest whiskey sour as a great fallback drink. Almost as easy to drink as Ameretto Sour but without the stigma.

                                3. Thanks everyone for their suggestions! Keep 'em coming!

                                  1. My safe drink when I was a youth in social/work situations was always a gin and tonic. If you start feeling like you've had enough, you can switch to tonic only and no one can tell the difference, and if you spill some on your tie you just drink until it dries off.

                                    1. A moscow mule might be a good choice for you - it's mostly ginger ale (or ginger beer), with lime and vodka. Not too strong, but not froofy, and it looks fine. A gin and tonic is a decent summer alternative, and mojitos are trendy now. You can always tell the bartender that you want the drink on the light side, and they should be amenable to that.

                                      As for the Americano, some people think Campari tastes too much like cough medicine. Unfortunately, I'm one of those!

                                      1. Can't get any more basic than Scotch and Soda. Dewars or Walker Red and seltzer. It's classic, adult, tough to screw up and no one will look at you funny for ordering it.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: wontonton

                                          Or Scotch and water, with water back. That way, you can always continue to add water as you sip, stretching the drink in a work situation. The other plus about scotch and water...you never lack for mixer. I learned to drink them in college, when we never had anything lying around to mix with!

                                          1. re: wontonton

                                            I agree with the scotch / whiskey route. You can get it neat (how I like it), on the rocks, with a finger or two of water, or other ways. If you are going to start drinking scotch, try out a few; there are 100's out there to choose from. The Johnnie Walker / Glenfiddich / Bushmills (technically an Irish whiskey) are all safe bets to begain with. If you want to get a little more sophisticated, order a Highland Park, Lagavulin, or a Caol Ila.

                                            1. re: eberhard49

                                              Agreed, but for a beginner, well watered down Dewars. It gives them a lot of control over how strong it tastes, and as their palate adjusts, they can cut back on the water.

                                              Eventually, break out the single malts with a bit of water, but as the Scots say, "doo na droon the malt"--just a splash

                                              1. re: eberhard49

                                                That was my thought. Good single malt can be made to last a long time, and it's the farthest thing from frou frou there is.

                                            2. Pick a spirit you like (scotch, rum, gin) and try it with soda, water, gingerale, etc. Given your concern over what your drink says about you, a glass filled with liquor + soda doesn't say much. Save the pina coladas for the beach and the bailey's for your house.

                                              1. My default drink is a Tom Collins... Not entirely sure what that says about me, but I think it's tasty and not too strong.

                                                1. I stick to amaretto sours and malibu and pineapple when out with friends. That being said- chambord and prosecco (an italian sparkling wine) is an excellent choice when trying not reveal inexperience. A mojito is a bit trendy, but with good reason- its quite tasty, ask for extra twist of lime. If available you must try Lillet on the rocks with an orange twist. Very, very good.

                                                  I think the suggestions of scotch, bourbon and gin are going to be overwhelming, and quite frankly- gross for someone who doesn't drink much.

                                                  12 Replies
                                                  1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                    I'd completely NOT recomend amaretto sour, Malibu and pineapple or prosecco and Chambord unless the poster wants to look like a 19 year old borrowing her older sister's ID. The whole point of the initial post was to look for more mature cocktails, which none of those are.

                                                    I DO agree about the Lillet though, especially in the summer.

                                                    OP- What did you choose?

                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      Invin- I see nothing in the original post re: maturity of the drinker. I simply suggested simple drinks that any bartender could make, comparable to a fruity rum based drink that the poster has ordered in the past (which was in the original post). Personally I'd rather someone think I am 19 and drink what I like. I couldn't care less what other people think of my drink order, seems like an awfully silly thing to judge people on.

                                                      1. re: jme1beachbum

                                                        Per the OP, "I actually like Malibu and pineapple (something about the coconut and pineapple flavours together -- very summery), but I feel like an unsophisticated kid ordering it!"

                                                        Silly in your eyes or not, lots of people consider those kiddie drinks, and the drinkers of such having unsophisticated palates. Some people care about such things, others don't. Personally, I wouldn't be caught dead drinking a glass full of sugar, but hey, bottoms up. You can have my share.

                                                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        Lighten up a bit, taste is important, I serve all of the above to a huge age range, all depending on taste, not what decade they were born in.....

                                                        1. re: jspear

                                                          Said the man who drinks Chambord with a splash of vodka in it. :)

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            Amen, stress the MAN part don't forget the curly twist

                                                            1. re: jspear

                                                              That actually just made me laugh out loud. Good one!

                                                              I just think that the OP can have ther best of both worlds: more mature cocktails that taste great as well. It's all trial and error. Some people, like yourself and jme1 like sweeter drinks. I definitely don't care for the calories OR the throbbing in my head the next morning, so I try to drink slightly drier drinks.

                                                              Also, having worked in very high end dining for years, sometimes customers DO get judged by what they eat/drink. I'm not saying it's right or wrong to do so, but it happens all the time. I don't think it's so much of a "Malibu and pineapple tastes disgusting", but more along the lines of "Malibu and pineapple with a $50 Ribeye? Nasty!".

                                                              I mean, there's a time and a place for everything. Hell, I drank Baybreezes while floating in a pool in Mexico recently. They were delicious. But the OP is looking for drinks to have at dinner with her husband's work colleagues. It's implied she's looking for something a bit more indicative of the situation.

                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                Ditto on the life experiences with food and I agree, you can be seen as what you drink. I am not at all worried about what I drink (demonstrated by my taste selections here and other posts) and think you need to feel comfortable in your skin. This post has had both ends of the spectrum and lots in between, the benefits of a free society I guess.

                                                      3. re: jme1beachbum

                                                        Lillet isn't that easy to come by in many restaurants and if the OP is not already familiar with the drink it could be awkward trying to explain to a server what it is.

                                                        1. re: MobyRichard

                                                          I'm not a huge fan of very alcoholic-tasting drinks, either, but I recently discovered the joys of the old-fashioned. The bit of sugar and the bitters make it taste delightful, but it's still a good, classic sipping drink.

                                                          1. re: pamiam

                                                            thank god someone added an old fashioned, the most modifiable drink known to man, sweeter, more bitters, more fruit, burbon, whiskey. Great to try. I agree with the rum and tonic suggestion, especially a white rum with lemon wedge in a large glass. cosmo's are passe but still a good order at any bar. Here's my new favorite, the hypnotist. Chilled Hypnotique, a few drops of casis for a bottom color topped off with a bit of champagne on top, cherry for garnish. A champagne cocktail with muddled casis, touch of sugar and twist with champagne in a champagne glass is kind of a classy classic. Don't forget coffee and ....... based drinks, especially after dinner, an Irish coffee, baileys and coffee or any number of cordials and coffee. LI iced tea as well.

                                                        2. re: jme1beachbum

                                                          Yum, big fan of Chambord.....beach bum