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Your "signature" drink

I'm writing an article about how people develop a taste for the drink they order anytime they're at a bar or restaurant. Being 27, I still switch it up quite a bit, but having a "regular" cocktail is not lost on me. How did you decide on one? Do your friends know it's your drink? How old were you when you stopped experimenting?

Any input would be great, Thanks!


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  1. If out for a meal in a nice restaurant I'd always start with Campari & soda or a Kir IF there is a nice Aligoté by the glass on the wine list.

    1. If I'm at a fine cocktail bar the whole point is to experiment. If I'm at a place that can't make a good cocktail I order wine. If they have a lousy wine list, then I leave, because I'm in a place I shouldn't be. Life would be boring to boring if I had a signature drink.

      1. I'll almost always order a Negroni, first. It's a good litmus test. Do they shake it *gasp*? Are they too light with Campari *gasp*? Do they not use orange bitters *gasp*? Do they not garnish with orange *gasp*? You get the idea...

        And Campari has the added benefit of being a aperitif. Score. Always a lovely way to start the evening.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mrgrotto

          I don't believe I've never seen a recipe for a Negroni calling for orange bitters. Nothing wrong with it, I'm sure it tastes fine. Just noting.

          I love a Negroni now and then, and I feel safe-ish ordering a Negroni from an iffy bartender. They usually can't screw it up if you tell them equal proportions of the vermouth, gin and Campari.

          In response to the original post, over the years of trying many cocktails, I've narrowed down my list to five or so that really hit the spot. It's just no fun to have an "okay" drink.

          1. re: Up With Olives

            True: Orange bitters is not the norm but the gin and Campari kind of beg for it. Perhaps the *gasp*ing was a bit melodramatic. Give it a shot, though. I also like the flamed orange peel trick.

            You'd think it'd be an easy drink to not screw up, but some bartenders don't believe that someone would a drink with that much sweet vermouth and Campari in it.

            And your 5 go to cocktails?

            1. re: mrgrotto

              I like to muddle an orange slice at the bottom of the mixing glass before stirring the drink; gives it a nice fresh flavor. I also like to use Punt-e-Mes in place of the usual sweet vermouth. I think given that combination the orange bitters won't even register, but I could be mistaken... I'll have to conduct many tests to make sure!

              1. re: mrgrotto

                Top cocktails to hit the spot: Martini, Manhattan (rye), Negroni are tops. Duplex (aka Cin CIn, aka Vermouth Cocktail) if I don't want hard liquor, sometimes a Picon cocktail.
                A margarita now and then.
                Aperitifs/wine/beer also but that's a whole different category.

                1. re: Up With Olives

                  Sapphire and Tonic, tall. Been my drink for a little over a year....right after discovering that Sapphire Martinis go down WAY to easy.

          2. I always order a vodka-tonic with lime, unless I know that the place does a good mojito.

            I used to order margaritas, but we went through a really hot summer where they just seemed too sweet and sticky. It took a year to get the bar staff to realize that I'd changed.

            Oh, and this was in my late 30s, to answer the other part of your question.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tracylee

              thanks for your input! did anyone specifically introduce you to them or did you discover them on your own?

              1. re: CulinaryKate

                Mojitos I first had at the Samba Room in Denver, where my sister lives. I love to make them myself in the summer, and was thrilled to find mint growing at the place I'm renting.

                I think I first had vodka/tonics at my parent's place - although they usually do it with gin, which I can't stand.

            2. Maybe not just one, but a short list, with some dependence on what i percieve as the skill level of the barkeep in question.and some dependence on season/mood, In no particular order of complication (or liklihood of proper ingredients being available); Manhattan(rye), dry manhattan(rye or bourbon if no rye available, with dry vermouth and a twist, stirred and served up), Martini(gin of course-3 &1/2 to 1 with a dash of orange bitters)Negroni, Aviation, Szazerac, Old fashioned, Caipirina, Gimlet, mint julep(only when I can see fresh mint behind the bar) Mojito(same). I guess it's not that short a list, but one doesn't want to get into a rut, does one?

              2 Replies
              1. re: chazzerking

                is there anything that particularly brought you to enjoy manhattans. did anyone else in your life drink them? did you discover them on your own?

                1. re: CulinaryKate

                  Mostly a result of experimentation. My dad is a martini/gibson drinker, gin, and Noilly pratt, stirred very cold and quite dry. I guess watching the mixing process when a kid, helped lead me down the cocktail path, though

              2. Beefeater gin and tonic with a shot of bitters. " mad dogs and English men" and all that.

                1. Spending most of my time in a rural area its rare to find a bar that I trust to make much of a drink right so I save most of my experimenting for home. At an average bar in this area I'll order a gin and tonic (I even had one that was off tonight...not sure I didn't get gin and club soda). At a grungier bar I'll get wild turkey neat. Someplace that might have drambuie behind the counter will get me a rusty nail. I dream of one day finding a place in the area that I can order a gibson made with plymouth and lillet.

                  1. I'm 28 and never order the same drink twice. I guess if i had a go to, it would be a scotch because you can never go wrong with that. But like JMF says, the establishment is the best barometer for deciding what you want.

                    1. I always go for a good red wine... a big tuscan preferably... Don't mess with Mother Nature's original drink!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JRCann

                        Minor point, but if ancientness is your criterion, you should be drinking beer, which most historians believe dates to the Stone Age and may have preceded the production of bread. Mead and rice wine are probably older than grape wine, too.


                      2. I've been working on this recently. I got in the habit of always ordering wine or draft beer but I decided I needed a "go-to" drink if I was in the mood for liquor, or if everybody else in the group was ordering martinis, etc. I used to order margaritas but they are not consistently good. So for now, I get a Cosmopolitan. They're better than regular martinis and prettier. :=)

                        1. For years, ok for the past 3 decades I've ordered Pastis or Pernod and water. You would be surprised how difficult it is to find in many places in North America.

                          1. Bourbon Manhattans, definitely, and my friends do know that they're my drink. With that said, I absolutely still experiment if there's a knowledgeable bartender at the ready, and I do have backups depending on mood, surroundings, availability, and even weather. These include Pimm's Cups, Sazeracs, and vodka tonics.

                            1. Screw that article, why only drink one thing?

                              I'll order different drinks depending on mood, location, season, weather, what I ate, who I am with, etc. If you are new at ordering drinks, it's good to have a few simple drinks you know you like, and especially "safe" drinks that are hard to screw up to order when you are somewhere you don't know and the bartending seems dubious.

                              Beyond that, I see little use for stubborn consistency.

                              1. It depends on the season, who is mixing the drinks and the reat of the evening's plans. In general though, I tend to order one of these.

                                Winter is the time for a nice sidecar, a glass of red wine, or a pint of Guinness. It really depends if dinner will be eaten, bands will be heard, or a fireplace is curled up in front of.

                                Spring is a Blue Moon with a wedge of orange, a glass of champagne (well, anytime is champagne time) or an Aviation. Something pretty.

                                Summer is Gin and Tonics, Sangria, a fancy pink lemonade and vodka combo, or a Bud Light (or 5) at Wrigley.

                                Fall is dark beer, a Manhattan, a dark and stormy.

                                1. I used to drink gin and tonic almost exclusively. I remember the day about 4 years ago when I had my first sip of Crown Royal Special Reserve, I was 25 and it blew my mind. After four years of experimenting with different whiskies I have settled on Jameson's on the rocks. I will settle for Bushmills if the bar does not carry Jameson's.

                                  1. I hope I never stop experimenting: there're way too many exciting things happening in serious cocktails right now.

                                    I do have some easy-to-make standbys that I go to when I've got a disinterested or less-than-talented bartender, some simple shaker cocktails (Negroni, Gimlet, bourbon Manhattan, not-so-dry Martini) and long drinks (whiskey/lemonade, gin/tonic, Americano, Moscow Mule). I'm spending most of my cocktail time in bars where the staff can skillfully surprise me, or at home imitating them.