When I first met Elliott my drink of choice was cheap beer, which I only drank at college parties with my friends. I knew nothing about wines, and avoided liquor like the plague (smart choice I thought). When it came time to meet his parents at an upscale restaurant, his mother ordered off the wine menu: Chardonnay from the Chablis region. His step-father also ordered from the wine menu: Chianti from Tuscany (this wine menu listed wine by name and origin). Then Elliott chose A 7&7. I had heard of none of these drinks and stressed for a long time. Do I order wine, but what kind? Do I follow suit with a 7&7, whatever that is? Even the beers were unrecognizable.. where was the miller lite?
I believe I went with the 7&7, which was way to strong and I barely touched. After running into the same problem a few awkward dinner parties later I decided to make it a point to learn about the fine world of alcoholic beverages beyond beer. I learned I enjoy mojitos, IPA’s, and just about every wine. It took awhile to learn the differences between what I liked and disliked, but it was well worth it. Some time down the road this also saved me from awkward work related events and at the local bars.
Here’s how you can order confidently no matter where you are.
Know your drinks.
Okay so this is a basic starting point. Everywhere you go you’ll find beers, wines, and spirits. Ales are darker hoppy beers, sometimes spiced or fruity, and possibly nutty or bitter. Lagers are generally more carbonated and come in a range of flavors, generally moderately hoppy. Stouts & Porters are generally very dark beers with fruity flavored compliments such as cherry though they are usually not sweet, but rich and creamy. Malts are rich and creamy and often advertised as having a caramel, toffee, or nutty flavor. White wines like chardonnay are dry, woody, and slightly fruity, or zesty, but not sweet. Sauvignon Blancs are very fruity and very acidic (think kiwi), they are tart, and usually balanced with herby flavors. Pinot Grigio is lighter and while still citrusy, more mild and sweet. Rieslings are the most sweet of the bunch and acidic. Red wines like Cabrinet Sauvignon are full bodied and heavy, with a peppery taste along with fruits like cherry. Syrahs are also peppery and medium bodied, with deep fruit flavors like plum and blueberry. Pinot Noirs are lighter bodied, highly fruity wines and mild floral notes. As a general rule white wines are best with lighter meals such as chicken or fish and reds compliment meats like steak or lamb well. As for spirits (rum, whisky, ect) check out This link.
Know what you like.
It’s essential to know what you like. Do you like beer, vodka, wine, gin? Are you more keen on something sweet or bitter? Would you prefer something dry and crisp or something deep and rich? These are adjectives that you can relay to your drink provider to help them zone in on what would be a good drink suggestion. If you find you aren’t familiar with the dinks on the beer or wine list you can always ask your waiter, they’re trained to help you pick, but it’s important to know what you like. Some to choose from: acidic, bitter, spicy, balanced, clean, creamy, crisp, dry, fizzy, floral, fruity, sweet, peppery, nutty, oaky, mild, mellow, fresh, refreshing, rich, savory, silky, smooth, tangy, tart, and zesty.
Have a Go-To.
Having a simple drink you can order no matter where you are is important. If your drink of choice is complex, say Elly’s dad’s “Scotch, on the rocks. With a splash of water, not soda, and a 1 inch twist of lemon” can be disappointing at a sports bar with a bartender who doesn’t know his scotch varieties (or if your drink is expensive and they don’t carry it altogether). It’s helpful to pick something that’s on the menu just about everywhere. Good go-to’s could be a certain type of wine (Pinot, anyone?) beer varieties like “pale ale, pillsner, lager, ect”, or specialty drinks like a rum & coke, mojito, martini, or sangria. These are things that just about every bar is equipped to carry and every bartender can make.
Know who your with.
If you’re out with your boss or the in-laws, it’s safe to order something similar to them, so if he or she orders a gin martini you can follow up with a gin and tonic. If you’re ordering to impress someone get something to share, such as champagne or a bottle of wine you all like, and if you’re out for a long night go with something that’s not too strong and not too sweet, you want to have fun (and remember) the whole night, right?
That’s all for now loves,
Have one for me tonight!