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Assessing a bar before ordering

This happened awhile back, but I was reminded of it today.

I was in a restaurant -- small chain steakhouse -- and ordered a Manhattan. The waitress first asked me if it was a Martini, and then said she didn't know if they had sweet vermouth when I told her what was in it. (They did, I could see it behind the bar.) I had to laugh when I was later looking through their beverage menu and the Manhattan was the very first item on the cocktail page.

I'm not a cocktail expert, but I feel like the chances of getting a good drink out of someone who doesn't know what sweet vermouth is is probably fairly limited. I decided not to have a Manhattan, but the whole encounter was awkward, and I'd like to avoid those kinds of conversations.

Is there a handy trick or rule of thumb for assessing whether to try a cocktail or stick to wine/beer/ice water? I mean, if it's the kind of place that offers 9 kinds of Martinis and 3 flavors of Mojitos on a plastic tent card on the table, I'm pretty sure it's not worth it unless I'm interested in a tequila slurpee. And if it's the place where the cocktail card lists 4 house drinks with spirits from a local distiller and house-made bitters, I'm pretty sure it's going to be worth a try. But what about all the places that are in between -- are there context clues you use to "read" a bar / restaurant and determine the likelihood that they'll pour a decent drink?

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  1. Talking to the bartender usually does the trick. Maybe s/he's even a *mixologist*. Ha.

    2 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      I'd like to specifically avoid that conversation if it's likely to prove awkward.

      1. re: Jacquilynne

        Ah, gotcha. Perhaps other hounds have some magic solution.

    2. I tend to scan the spirits behind the bar. If all I see are the usual supermarket suspects and no liqueurs other than bottles of Hot Damn!, Apple Pucker, et al., I take one of three courses of action: (a) lower my expectations and opt for something easy (margarita being my default), (b) scan the beer taps and/or wine selection to see if anything decent can be had, or (c) head for the door.

      Generally, (c) happens after one iteration of (a) or (b)--the truly and deeply inept and/or very beer-centric folks often can't manage decent versions of "easy" cocktails. Of course, if I'm at the bar because of a social obligation, I just gut it out. ;-)

      7 Replies
      1. re: hohokam

        Must be a regional thing, because around the Northeast a Margarita is the least likely common craft cocktail to be drinkable in a questionable bar. It will almost certainly be Cuervo + sour mix. Maybe some low-end triple sec (maybe not). Maybe some orange juice from a can. Maybe in a blender. Served in a bird bath. Maybe with some strawberry syrup, too.

        I have never ordered a Margarita in a craft bar. I need to do this.

        A poorly-made Manhattan with Canadian Club, an aging bottle of Stock sweet vermouth, a raft of ice chips, and a neon cherry is at least I cocktail I could drink. I am simply not drinking a neon sour mix Margarita.

        If I spy Campari, I order a Negroni. The ingredient are simple. The ratio is simple. If the sweet vermouth is oxidized, that's not awful.

        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          You'd think that ordering a negroni would be easy, but we have received shaken negronis, negronis missing any gin (!), negronis with a fruit salad in them... Or people who had no clue what a negroni even was.

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            If the place isn't too busy, I feel like I can guide the bartender to something passable ("Could you make that with fresh lime juice and triple sec, instead of the Cuervo mix?"). I'm not saying that the marg is going to be a stone cold lock in every case, but often it feels like the safest choice, at least at the Tini-jito places. At beer-and-shot joints and TGIMcFunsters, I agree, the probability of getting anything other than a drink made with mix is vanishingly small.

            As to regional differences, my perception is that in these parts, the odds of finding limes and triple sec behind the bar are higher than finding any kind of vermouth.

            1. re: hohokam

              It is regional then. In the Northeast Triple Sec is no problem -- every bar has it. But fresh lime juice (rather than just a bunch of pre-cut garnish limes) is rare -- much less common that both sweet and dry vermouth. Now whether the vermouth is fresh is another matter....

            2. re: EvergreenDan

              I went to an italian place once. A fairly large chain, and ordered a negrini. The waitress asked initially if i meant peligrini, and i said no :ask the bartender if he / she knows how to make it.
              Bartender said no, so i told the waitress how to make one on the rocks, since it was simpler, and he he was happy to learn it. the resulting drink was good, and strong.

              1. re: TroyTempest

                Is a Negrini a Negroni that makes you happy? ;)

                1. re: EvergreenDan

                  Oops, I fat fingered it. I meant negroni, of course, but then all negronis make me happy.

          2. For me, ordering a cocktail is the exception and not the rule. That is, the restaurant/bar has to earn my cocktail order by plainly displaying that they know at least the basics of cocktails - for example, a good and detailed cocktail list, a bar that appears to be well-stocked beyond the basics, a server that's eager to talk cocktails, etc. If I don't see any of those, then I'm going to stick with wine, beer, or a straight pour of call liquor and not take the risk of ordering a $10 "manhattan" that's Beam with aging Martini vermouth and a bright-red cherry, shaken till it's full of ice chips.

            Funny story: I was recently at an upscale restaurant in the Colorado mountains and noticed that the Negroni on the cocktail list claimed to be made of "gin, sweet vermouth, and an orange slice." I asked the server if they had Campari and she said no, their Negroni didn't use Campari. Interesting choice. I went with a nice malbec instead.

            2 Replies
            1. re: monopod

              Agreed on your litmus test and that ordering a cocktail is the exception. Wine is a crapshoot at most bars too (oxidized, overpriced) so I tend to hit straight whiskey or a gin/soda.

              I ordered a Campari/soda once in Central PA and the bartender went into a rant about how gross vermouth is and he couldn't believe I was drinking it. I tried to explain to him that Campari wasn't vermouth (never mind explaining that a quality, fresh vermouth can be delicious) but he was convinced Campari was vermouth. On the plus side, I was charged for vermouth which was $4.

              1. re: monopod

                This. I used to frequent several neighborhood places, and only one of them would I ever order a cocktail at. At the rest of them I stuck to beer. Fortunately, I like beer. Once I ordered a pair of martinis at a pretty expensive restaurant and watched in horror as the bartender shook them heavily, serving us cloudy drinks full of ice shards. As it was a date I let it slide.

                Even at the places that know a good cocktail I have to specify that I want to be able to taste the vermouth, otherwise I get the "rinse the glass and toss" nonsense.

              2. Not scientifically tested, of course, but my quick and dirty rule of thumb is: Red, neon, plastic maraschino cherry = don't bother; quality cocktail cherry = good to go. I have started to informally test this theory. Not sure exactly how reliable it is yet.

                1. Rule of thumb for me is a menu - no menu or menu with 2/3 vodka drinks ending in tini I get a beer. Luckily the craft beer explosion has made this front a lot safer. Only exception is if I know the bartender knows his stuff.

                  1. The house-made bitters sound like the person in charge of the list knows what they're doing, but isn't rigorously training the staff. It also could have been a list done by a "consultant" who is long, long gone.

                    I usually watch the bartender make other drinks. Do they mostly free pour? Do you see no jiggers at all or the use of a soda gun? And for a shaken drink, do they shake it for 2 seconds, and that's it? I've seen a bartender simply pour from one glass to another and and back, and count that as "shaking" the drink.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kathryn

                      Reminds me of a time I was at a neighborhood dive bar and ordered a manhattan. They had a full selection of alcohol, and I know they train their bartenders. So I ordered the manhattan, expecting a passable drink. The cocktail waitress asked what was in it, so I told her. Next thing I know I see her behind the bar vigorously shaking the bitters bottle, one-two-three-...-ten+ times. I had her toss the drink and I showed her step-by-step. Even if you had no experience with bitters, the little stopper at the top of the bitters bottle might have clued her in. Guess not.

                    2. If the place looks sketch, I'll order a beer in a bottle.

                      1. I think I once saw a video where David Wondrich said he can tell whether or not to order a cocktail in a bar by listening to how vigorously the bartenders shake the cocktails. While I doubt that's a foolproof method, bartenders giving drinks a couple of limp plops is always a bad sign.

                        I have to agree that talking to the bartender is probably the best way to get a feel of things. It really doesn't have to be awkward; an easy way to go about it so it doesn't seem like you're interrogating them is just to ask for a recommendation. For example, if you ask "what's a good vermouth for a Manhattan," you'll probably be able to tell from the response if the bartender understands something about Manhattans as well as vermouth.

                        At restaurants it can be really tricky, since a lot of places put a lot into presentation, including their bar/cocktail offerings, but don't deliver. Often if I'm ordering a cocktail at a restaurant, I'll just specify everything when I order, from brands to ratios to glassware. That way there are rarely any disappointing surprises.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: A_Gonzalez

                          I live in a part of the world where good cocktails are exceptionally rare - no matter how well stocked the bar looks. But the point about a shaker is an excellent point.

                          At my favorite bar here (where I'd never order a cocktail) - if a drink that requires a shaker is ordered, you almost feel the dust coming off a rarely used piece of equipment. But if in the time I'm waiting to order, I see/hear the a shaker being well used then that's a good sign.

                          1. re: A_Gonzalez

                            Man, if a bartender shakes the hell out of a shaker without askin' me, I might go the shot and a beer route. Always safe. But, I want my gin unbruised. It should be stirred. Then again, I'm not a fictional character substituting flavorless booze for the proper ingredient.

                            In fairness though, as much as I love my 4 to 1's, I've got a lotta "shot and a beer blood" in my veins.

                            1. re: A_Gonzalez

                              As a bartender, I agree; chat with the bartender. Ask for any recommendations. Perhaps offer up what sort of drinks you tend to like so as to give some indicators about your palate.

                              Hawk-eyeing the liquor shelf can help, but it's all for naught if the bartender is lost. Table tents, drink menus, etc., are reflective of the establishment and can be symptomatic of the overall experience, but ultimately it settles down to your bartender and ingredients.

                              I don't ever find these types of conversations awkward, though I have known some bartenders whose egos get in the way.

                            2. Not to nitpick however there are a few questions I have regarding your experience. Most chain restaurants are the starting place for many servers. A vast majority are "kids" being under 21 and might not have a vast knowledge of drinks, especially something "old school" like a Manhattan. Their lack of knowledge has nothing to do with the bartenders knowledge, generally speaking a bartender at a chain, has more experience, or specific training when it comes to drinks.

                              Based on previous experience at some chains, and recent news in NJ, my biggest problem are short pours or watered down drinks at chains.

                              I sit at the bar most of the time and after a few minute chat with the bartender and a watch of the pour (another downside to most chains are either auto pour machines or use of shot glass/measured pour) and gauge things from there. I just drink straight vodka though, so it's hard to short pour me!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                She told me she would be making the drink when she asked me how to make it.

                                1. re: Jacquilynne

                                  If it was genuinely a chain, I assume the bartender was out sick or on a break etc. That is very out of the ordinary for them to have a server making the drinks. I'll assume she was trying to expedite getting your drink to you, but I agree, that is reason to question the situation. Sorry.

                                2. re: jrvedivici

                                  I had three different friends send me that story about bad booze in NJ bars because I have been known to uh.. disagree with the barkeep about the provenance of their spirits. I usually drink brown liquors neat, so I'm in the same situation, it's easy to see how heavy their pour is. But do you ever encounter vodka that is clearly not the vodka you ordered? I've spent enough time behind the bar that I can tell the difference between call & well liquor, either immediately and forcefully with the taste or the nature of the hangover the next morning.

                                  1. re: dan

                                    I can normally tell a well from a premium. I personally love Stoli, up, with olive's NO vermouth. Stoli, depending on who you debate, is a borderline premium vodka. The biggest difference between Stoli or any premium vodka is the after taste or "burn" you experience. Now in all honesty, I might be able to guess the difference between Stoli and Goose or Kettle, just because I know the subtle Stoli flavor very well. But there is NO WAY I could tell he difference between Kettle and Goose or some others.

                                    Even lately there are some very good discount vodka's like Svedka that can be very sneaky and smooth for a $20. per 1.750ltr bottle.

                                3. Here's the beauty of every single bar in the world: you can always order a gin and tonic and you'll never be let down.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: radshoesbro

                                    Unless they use tonic from the soda fountain

                                    1. re: TroyTempest

                                      And Bellows gin or some other synthetic housel gin.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        But you can call your gin, tonic not so much

                                  2. Just because the waitress doesn't know her martinis very well doesn't necessarily mean the bartender doesn't. Although it is possible the waitress could ring the order in wrong due to not knowing enough about them. In all fairness people very rarely order them, especially at chain joints.

                                    I worked as a server at a chain restaurant years ago (TGI Fridays) and as part of our training, we had to learn all the questions to ask someone when they are ordering a martini, as well as be able to suggest three top shelf liquors that we would upsell them on. But if so few people order them, I could see where some servers would eventually forget.

                                    I happen to drink martinis myself, so I always remembered. But there were some of my other coworkers who didn't drink at all and didn't always remember everything to ask.

                                    I would just be as specific as possible, and let them ring it in as such.

                                    1. As others have said, I tend to look at the liquor. 12 flavored vodkas, Pucker, cheap triple sec, and several candy-flavored schnapps? No thanks. Does it look like the vermouth has been sitting on the back bar for many, many years? I'll pass.

                                      Truthfully, I almost never order cocktails at bars and restaurants, and when I do, it's places whose reputations for mixing good drinks proceeds them. Despite the "cocktail renaissance" the vast majority of bars and restaurants out there neither care, nor know, how to make a proper cocktail. Thankfully I've spent several years building up a well-stocked home bar in which I can make proper cocktails for me, my GF, and our friends.

                                      1. Scanning the cocktail list is usually a good indicator to me (bear in mind i generally drink rum / gin, and occasionally bourbon)

                                        1st I check the list to see if they have mainly vodka drinks listed, if they do - pass - they probably don't take their cocktails seriously (no offense to vodka drinkers but that is my experience)

                                        If they don't list any vodka drinks other than a moscow mule and maybe one other, could be a good starting point

                                        Check out their rum list - if they have mainly bacardi products pass - they wont make a good rum drink and I am angry anyone would serve anyone bacardi

                                        Brown Derby - If they have a brown derby on the menu, they can probably make a passable drink, also bourbon and honey is pretty forgiving - even if it is a close call, this will probably be passable

                                        If all else fails a good belgium ale works or Gin and Soda

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Dapuma

                                          "If all else fails a good belgium ale works or Gin and Tonic".


                                              1. re: TroyTempest

                                                Maybe Dapuma actually meant what was written, "Gin and Soda"? Many people order that instead of a gin and tonic.

                                                By the way, FTFY has an other meaning that is used much more commonly by today's young interwebbers...


                                                1. re: JMF

                                                  I meant exactly what I typed

                                                  If I meant tonic I would have said that :)

                                                  I rarely like gin and tonics, about the only one I have every truly enjoyed was from Tuck Shop who makes their own tonic and they used Hendricks gin and a cucumber

                                                  If I can talk to the bartender and they have some basics I will ask them if they can get cucumbers, have them muddle the cucumbers in the bottom of the rock glass with a dash of st germain, then gin and soda me, cucumber garnish - not the greatest drink ever but anyone can make that if they can follow simple directions

                                        2. Having a mixed drink in a bar is a treat for myself. It is not a requirement in my dining experience. So when I go to a new place, I like to watch the bartender mix a few. If I have my doubts, I ask them what their well scotch is. If they don't know, I usually order a soda.

                                          1. One thing I've started doing is to ask about their vermouth. So, I'm looking at the cocktail list and there's a martini and I'll say, "What vermouth are you using [tonight]?" I'm asking in all interest and very positively as one cocktail fan to another. If it's decent and refrigerated, I go ahead and order a cocktail, usually something like a 50-50, which should be straight forward. If they point to some low-quality vermouth just sitting out on the bar, I go a different direction.

                                            Once the bartender told me he didn't know the vermouth, he'd check. Not a good sign. Then he came back with a small glass bitters shaker filled with vermouth and said that's what he had since martinis only need a little vermouth. So I ordered a glass of wine.

                                            1. This is a very interesting read... lots of good advice, here.

                                              I'll add one note. Just last night I had a friend who ordered a French Martini. This is a cocktail I'd personally put a second tier of being well-known. It calls for pineapple juice, chambord (the French part), and vodka. She got a Kir Royale (champagne and chambord, so they got that last bit right).

                                              My friend flipped out. Turns out she orders this and fumes all the time about the result. To her, it's like a kind of test for the bar. I see a lot of that: people order a drink like they're the schoolmaster of some British prep academy and grimly await the results for judging.

                                              In my humble opinion, if you don't know the bar and you're ordering something that they don't explicitly list, help them help you: call your drink out rather than name it.

                                              If my friend had said, "Can you give me equal parts vodka and pineapple juice shake and served up with a splash of Chambord," why then she'd be a happy girl! Instead, she's fuming.

                                              That won't answer for bad ingredients, poor technique, crappy ice, etc. But it at least gives your drink a fighting chance of being proportioned right.

                                              For me, this works.. particularly when I have to send an order to the bar via a waiter/waitress from a sit-down restaurant.

                                              --Neal (Proof66)

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: proof66

                                                Huh. I always thought Kir Royal was cassis and champagne...

                                                1. re: proof66

                                                  Honestly, I wouldn't even put it third or fourth tier. I've got a half dozen or so well-regarded cocktail books on my shelf, and none of them have a French Martini. If it's her test of a good bar, then perhaps the fault is hers for ordering such an obscure drink, and being so unaware of what constitutes the hundred or so "cannonical" drinks that generally would serve as a decent bellwether for how well a bartender knows the "craft" of his job.

                                                  Also, FWIW, that drink sounds awful. It reminds me of the overly sweet shooters I had to churn out back when I tended bar in the '90s and the drink scene was basically dominated by fruity junk designed to get people drunk fast without tasting any of the booze they were drinking. Though not a favorite, I'd prefer a Kir Royale any day of the week to what she calls a French Martini.

                                                2. This has been one of the better discussions on this board. Everyone has their way of assessing a bar and the likelihood of getting something that they would enjoy.
                                                  I find that if you spend a few seconds asking others what they are drinking, it will quickly give you a good idea of the skill level at the bar. You must take into account the age/sex (drink selection) of the others but most people at the bar will be happy to discuss their choices with you.

                                                  1. I rarely order a cocktail. Not because I don't like a good cocktail, but because of a kind of catch 22 in finding a bar that would make a good one.

                                                    If a bar has a nice collection of liquors beyond the usual suspects, then it's more likely they'll make a decent cocktail. But that same collection of interesting liquors makes me more likely to try out a bourbon or rye or scotch or cognac that I haven't yet sampled or don't get to drink often.

                                                    Perhaps ironically, I sometimes find a pretty good bloody mary at places where the liquor list isn't particularly impressive but the food is good. Because of this, it's the only cocktail I wind up ordering much.

                                                    1. If i am going the mixed drink route I try to scan the bottles. If the bartender is showing promise as he/she works or has a good reputation, I my just risk trusting them. If there isn't anything to go on I just provide them with very clear instructions, like "a Bombay and M&R martini, 4:1, shaken for about twenty seconds, one olive, no olive juice." That's pretty simple to follow, and if they know what they are doing, they likely will not resent it. If they don't know what they are doing, tip well if it comes out ok and let them know you liked it. If they still find a way to screw it up, you are ten dollars lighter, a little mellower from a little gin, and wasted less time and money than if you went to a dud movie or bought a boring book. If that is too risky or you, learn to like whiskey on the rocks.

                                                      1. I'm in a place that doesn't look promising, but I see a Woodford Reserve / Carpano Antica / Luxardo cherry Manhattan on the menu. Hoping they just didn't both to list the bitters, I order it, fully expecting it to be shaken.

                                                        Out comes a light pink drink, neon cherry, smelling of fruit and citrus. I send it back -- obviously a bartender mistaken order. Then out comes a grey-pink (not brown) drink with another neon cherry, with no hint of whiskey flavor. At this point, I figure the bartender if messing with the waitress or me. The waitress is very flustered at this point. She say I should order something else. Okay, I order a glass of Carpano Antica with a wedge of lemon. She comes back. "The bartender used the last of that in your last drink." Yeah.

                                                        I order a Tanqueray Martini with an olive. Out comes a watery glass of not-that-cold gin, fully aerated with a raft of ice chips. Just what I expected. I enjoy it nonetheless.

                                                        At least it beats the "Martini" I got the night before elsewhere, which was on the rocks, garnished with 3 olives and a wedge of lemon.

                                                        I really wish places wouldn't but drinks on their menu that they can't make.

                                                        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                          That happened to me on a first date once. I ordered two Beefeater martinis at the bar before our table was ready, and watched in horror as the bartender shook them until they were both cloudy with ice chips.

                                                          At that point I had two choices: A) tell him that he was making our drinks wrong and risk looking like an anal retentive asshole, or B) let it go and let us both drink substandard martinis. I opted for the latter, and ordered a bottle of wine with dinner, but it seriously annoyed me. This was a pretty upscale restaurant -- no Michelin stars, but it probably would have at least been considered.

                                                          1. re: JonParker

                                                            You're not being anal retentive if a bartender doesn't know how to do his job. But again, my general rule is never order cocktails unless you are 100% positive that the place has well-trained bar staff.

                                                        2. Went to a bar well known for their drinks this weekend, and ordered a mai tai - figured they could do a pretty resonable job

                                                          ended up with a drink in a collins glass, with an orange garnish, that tasted like cointreau - It was pretty terrible and i was going to let it go, but decided to send it back

                                                          The manager came out and asked why I didnt like it and to make sure I didn't expect the mai tai to have grenadine in it, at that point i got a little upset and proceeded to tell him what the ingredients in the mai tai were and how to make it and what garnish and type of glass to put it in heh...

                                                          they brought me out a rum old fashion that was pretty good :)

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Dapuma

                                                            I'm guessing there are less than 20 bars in the country where you can order a Mai Tai and reliably get a good one. So many pitfalls, and requires obscure rum, orgeat, and crushed ice. Probably one of the worst drinks to order unless the bar has been set up specifically to make a great Mai Tai.

                                                            In a similar vein, I ordered a Singapore Sling after seeing it on the menu at a place that is known for their cocktails and it was quite awful. I guess the lesson is to steer clear of tropical drinks unless you're at a place like Smuggler's Cove.

                                                            1. re: nickls

                                                              Agreed, though I think the drink is fine without crushed ice, but...yeah...orgeat...good luck ordering a drink at a bar in which orgeat is a key ingredient. Anything requiring a particular style of rum, or flavor profile, is dangerous. In general, rum just hasn't had the sort of bar renaissance (yet) that bourbon has achieved. Most places (even with a decent liquor selection) probably have a white, a spiced, Goslings (maybe) and if they have a dark, it's either Myers or Appleton V/X, which I've found through trial and error to be acceptable but not ideal in a Mai Tai.

                                                              But, in order to not be a total downer, beer is wonderful, amazing nectar, and beer selection at soooooo many bars throughout the country is better than ever. S

                                                              1. re: nickls

                                                                Being a bit of a Tiki-ophile I'd say that you can reliably get a Mai Tai in most of the better cocktail bars. I could probably name 20 places in NYC. The rums may be slightly off, but well within the parameters. But other than at the rare, real tiki bars, and some of the top cocktail bars, you are right in that most places make very poor renditions, many with a recipe so far off base as to be unrecognizable. Also, there are so many recipes for the Mai Tai, and with no proof that the recipe that is most well documented, attributed to Trader Vic, is the real one either. I have around a dozen classic recipes for it, all from top historical Tiki bars, all different.

                                                                The Singapore Sling is a cocktail with so many versions, it's hard to get a good one. The original recipe is long lost. Ted Haigh, Jeff Berry, and a few others tried to recreate it, or found possible old recipes, but they vary a lot.

                                                                Singapore Sling 1930’s – Don the Beachcomber, 1937 from Jeff Berry
                                                                1 oz. gin
                                                                1 oz. Cherry Heering
                                                                ½ oz. lemon juice
                                                                1 ½ oz. soda water

                                                                Shake all, except soda water, on ice. Stir in soda. Strain into a tall glass and top with ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

                                                                Singapore Sling 1950’s - from a letter to the editor of Gourmet Magazine from a Singapore resident.
                                                                2 oz. gin
                                                                1 oz. Cherry Heering
                                                                ½ oz. Benedictine
                                                                ½ oz. brandy
                                                                1 oz. lime juice
                                                                1 ½ oz. soda water

                                                                Shake all, except soda water, on ice. Stir in soda. Strain into a tall glass and top with ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and orange wheel.

                                                                Singapore Sling 1970’s – Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh’s version, of the modern Raffles Bar re-formulation, from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, 2004.
                                                                2 oz. gin
                                                                ¾ oz. Cherry Heering
                                                                ¼ oz. Cointreau
                                                                ¼ oz. Benedictine
                                                                2 oz. pineapple juice
                                                                ¾ oz. lime juice
                                                                ¼ oz. grenadine
                                                                Dash Angostura bitters
                                                                ½ oz. soda water

                                                                Shake all, except soda water, on ice. Stir in soda. Strain into a tall glass and top with ice. Garnish with pineapple, orange, and cherry.

                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                  We have a local bar that offers a 40s, 80s and modern version of the Mai Tai. The 40s is my favorite, the 80s one is the worst.

                                                            2. I printed out a Manhattan recipe and keep it in my wallet, so when the first one comes out wrong, I give it to the waitress. I must admit, I've had mixed reactions, but I usually get what I want. If there are a lot of blue hairs in the restaurant, I am confident the bartender knows how to make one. If the clientele leans towards tattoos, plaid shirts, and those black framed glasses I wore in third grade, I am more skeptical.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Hammie

                                                                In most bars, he recipe is only half the battle. Your main concern should probably be whether they're using a bottle of vermouth that's been open for a year or two, siting on the back of the bar near the scotch no one orders :(