Pin it

I always don’t know what to get at bars. Years of drinking under my belt and yet I’m always struck by indecisiveness when someone offers to get me something. Usually, I end up with a beer or a copied cocktail I spied across the bar, or, I admit, I tell someone to get me “whatever” or that “I don’t care.” I try not to, because even though I can’t make up my mind at the bar, indecisive orderers sort of annoy me. I blame it on my background in customer service.

I can’t make up my mind, and you’d rather not wait, and the bartender has other people to see to, and it’s filling up, and we’ll have to wait longer if I don’t go now. You see? We both can’t be indecisive. Life’s unfair like that. So to help you, gentlemen and ladies who have been put on the spot, I have a few suggestions:

1. If you just got there

You guys had to take your coats off, find seats, find your friends, and find space at the bar to order, and yet she still didn’t have an opinion on a drink. It’s not like she had that entire time to think of something alcoholic and pleasant to the palate or anything. Put on the spot, you should just get her a Dark and Stormy. It’s such a low commitment order, possibly because it’s sort of the easy, elder sister of Rum and Coke. In an analogy form: Rum and Coke is to the college student as Dark and Stormy is to the graduate.

2. If she’s wearing a faux fur coat and black tights with high waisted shorts

Just get her Bourbon. Make it neat. She’ll talk to you about malts and barrels and ryes, and somehow Crown Royal will be brought up. She’ll drop bar names around Brooklyn that you’ve never really thought too much about to have an opinion, and then she’ll mention either how her dad or grandfather or uncle or her English professor she had romantic entanglements with helped her develop a taste for the stuff. Wait till she grabs a pack of smokes from her canvas tote bag purse and heads outside, then repeat this process over with another glass.

3. If she started quoting authors she’s never read

She probably prefers a Whiskey Ginger. She’ll start talking about her vinyl collection and how long she’s been a vegetarian and how her co-op will kick just about anyone out.

4. If she’s always wearing yoga pants and has a subscription to Birchbox

Get her a Vodka tonic. Heck, go crazy and ask for “with lemon” to boot. She can carry her glass with one hand while she logs her meals for the day on her diet mobile app, then checks Goop for more krazy ideas for Kale.

5. If she likes sweet

Get her a Fuzzy Navel. I know. I know. It’s sort of one of those drinks I hate ordering because I have a bad connotation with it being just so, so silly to say, but the combination of peach schnapps and orange juice (sometimes lemonade) is just too sweet and delicious to distract me from caring. A friend of mine unabashedly identifies it as her favorite, because she is a lover of what she calls “girly drinks,” a phrase which also has negative connotation but shouldn’t. The drink sort of reminds me of an early 2000’s party girl with five million mini ponytails on her head, body glitter, opaque white lipgloss, and a rave in Miami, so maybe that’s why I think it’s a flibbertigibbet of bar orders. It’s time, however, to bring this drink back without shame. Starting now.

6. If she likes her coffee black

Get her a stout beer (or an espresso stout beer if offered). You at least know that she likes her coffee in the morning without any frills, so it’s easier and faster to get through the long Starbucks coffee line. Keep that same mentality at the bar and go for a dark imperial stout. It’s dark like coffee. It also has a nice foam on top and is smooth as hell. It’s basically the bitter brew of the bar orders. Because of this, if she also happens to have doughnuts, croissants, or pie with her at the bar, it’s doubly good to get her a stout to compliment the flavors.

7. If she came from work

Is it Happy Hour and she’s wearing improbably heels and has a story about how Jan in accounting and Dave in IT are out to ruin her life? First, pull her into a hug and be on her side about all of the office conspiracy theories, and then go get her a martini and make it dirty. Make it very, very dirty. Her extreme anger will slowly disappear with the vodka, vermouth, brine, and each Olive she pops into her mouth. Pay attention to her glass and keep them coming until she’s done bemoaning the discrepancies in invoices or whatever the hell that jerk Dave did to her.

8. If she came from a nap

Maybe she needs a kick from champagne or maybe you’re feeling particularly Parisian, but the French 75, made with champagne, Cognac or gin, simple syrup on ice with lemon. The name apparently comes from the French 75mm field gun and a sip gives the drinker a “kick” as if he were shot with one, only less fatal and more bubbly. This drink has the optional bonus of allowing you to order it as a “Soixante Quinze,” but be warned that while impressive, you might sound like a high-falutin douche if you do this in eight out of 10 establishments. But it’s classy and comes in a champagne flute and it looks like you and the sleepy she sort of made an effort in the first place.

9. If you’re really not sure

Get her what you’re having. This route has several benefits. First, you already decided what you were hankering for and playing the guessing game to please her can lead to a slippery slope of a wasted drink she doesn’t care for and/or her bumming off your choice later on. This takes time away from over thinking the situation. Instead, just go back to the bar for whatever you are holding in your hand. This is an added bonus as you now have a prop to point to in case the bar’s too crowded and you have to resort to eye contact and miming for ordering. Besides, if she doesn’t like it as much later, you now have a backup drink for yourself that you don’t have to get later. If not, get her water. She said she didn’t care, right?