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How to Order Drinks at a Bar: An Idiot's Guide to Ordering Drinks at a Pub or Bar

Updated on August 30, 2012
How to Order Drinks at a Bar: An Idiot's Guide to Ordering Drinks at a Bar
How to Order Drinks at a Bar: An Idiot's Guide to Ordering Drinks at a Bar | Source

Ordering drinks at a Pub or Bar can be a daunting experience for most people if they've never done it before, the fear of making yourself look silly not knowing what to order or ordering drinks incorrectly. The truth is: It's not rocket science! Here's How to Order Drinks at a Bar: An Idiot's Guide to Ordering Drinks at a Pub or Bar in 5 easy steps.


Before you run off to the nearest pub or bar to try out the tips in this practical guide there are certain things you should take into consideration:

  • First and foremost, it may seem obvious but you must be 18 years of age in order to order alcoholic drinks at a bar, there's nothing to say however that you couldn't order either soft drinks or cordials, but if you do look quite young for your age, be prepared and don't be offended when you're asked for ID, the bartender could lose their job if they were found serving alcoholic drinks to someone underage!
  • Drinks aren't cheap! I'm British, and I don't know about drinks ordered over the bar across the pond but in England, you couldn't get away with walking into a pub with a £1 coin and ordering a Carlsberg! It just doesn't work that way I'm afraid, not in 2012, anyway.
  • Know your drinks: Now, I'm not telling you to become a drinks 'expert' as such, but just to get a bit of background knowledge of alcoholic drinks so you know exactly what you're ordering, it'll make the entire process of actually ordering your first few drinks so much less painful. For instance, do you know the difference between White Rum and Bacardi 151? Try having a few Google searches, look into the different types of drinks (Vodka, Whiskey, Rum, Beers and Lagers etc) and look up the common brands associated with them. (Smirnoff, Budweiser, Captain Morgan etc.)

Know your drinks
Know your drinks | Source

Step 1

Decide what you want to drink ideally before approaching the bar, if the staff are particularly busy they won't be too impressed if they have to ask if you're ready to be served only to be turned down! If you'd like to have a look at the drinks on display behind the bar, stand away from the bar, don't lean into it as this'll make the staff presume you're ready to order. Do you want a mixed drink, pre-mixed drink, shot, beer or cocktail? When you're ready to order, approach the bar.

Step 2

When a bartender approaches you, speak loudly and clearly. I'm not telling you to shout at the bartender but at pubs and bars it can quite often to noisey and as a result you may need to speak up a bit.

Ordering a Pre-Mixed Drink

VK, WKD, Smirnoff Ice? These drinks will typically come in a small'ish glass bottle, they're pretty much the easiest drinks to order over the bar, tap water aside and have very little alcohol content.

Ordering a Beer or Lager

Typical little British annoyance for bartenders is when somebody who's never ordered a drink before approaches the bar and asks for a "pint". Typically a "pint" will refer to Beer or Lager, but you could also get a Soda, Cordial or Cider in a pint glass! So always order a pint of something, if you want a Beer you'll have to tell the bartender specifically which Beer you want, same goes for Lager. It's pretty much common sense, there are thousands of different brands of Beer and Lager in the world, all brewed differently and the bartender is exactly that: A Bartender, not a mind reader!

Ordering Mixed Drinks

Adding a bit of complication, if you'd like to order a mixed drink, Spritzers aside (i.e a rum and this, whiskey and that) the same rule applies here that does for Beers and Lagers, always say the name of the alcohol first and the name of the mixer second. Whiskey and Coke? Which Whisky would you like? Do you want a single or a double shot? How much mixer do you want? Simply put, basic bar etiquette dictates precise and relatively concise orders as mentioned previously. "Get me a JD and Coke short please". You've just ordered a single shot of Jack Daniel's with a Coke mix in a short glass. Did you want Ice with that?

Step 3

Finally, if it's busy, leave the bar and find somewhere to sit and enjoy your drink, congratulations, you've just ordered your first drink at a bar!

Bottoms up!
Bottoms up! | Source


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    • JakeFrost profile image

      Jake Frost 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Some great tips here. Very well written and an easy to understand layout.

      Well done! Very interesting hub!

      ~ Jake