A Denver bartender's sociological analysis: Sizing up you and your drink order

Last week, if you recall, I brought you a list of five bar types adults should avoid. Now I'm back with a rundown of what your drink order says about you.

Most bartenders aren't judgmental people. We never really want to bite the hand that feeds. If you want your Macallan 25 and soda, we pour it -- and add $70 to your tab. And we genuinely hope that you enjoy it. But the staff is going to talk about you over beers after we get off. The secret fraternity meetings tat happen at large round tables in the backs of bars and restaurants are usually boisterous affairs that see conversation drifting to food, drink and customers. Our stories include accounts of guests who order well-done burgers and then complain that the result was 'dry,' tales of couples who downed 14 glasses of high-octane malbec, and, yes, a description of your $70 scotch and soda.

So what does your drink say about you? Here's a concise anthology, based on sociological research, concerning the imbibing of beverages by (mostly) adult individuals.

1. Vodka-Press: Derived from a Presbyterian cocktail, hence "Press," this drink was originally a mixture equal parts ginger ale and club soda. A variation on the classic high-ball of days past, it was probably named for those pesky teetotalers that wanted something that looked like a cocktail but wouldn't damn them to hell. Someone got the right idea that the light ginger flavor and vigorous bubbles were missing something to make it truly great, and a shot of bourbon or rye was quickly added to improve its flavor. That said, if you want your Vodka Press with Sprite and soda, you probably think it's called a "press" because you push the Sprite and soda buttons on the gun at the same time, and you think it makes you look sophisticated, like you're ordering a proper cocktail instead of vodka and 7UP like a high school kid filling their thermos before the football game. Like the flavor? Next time order a Vodka Collins or a Tom Collins with a light-profile gin; I promise it doesn't taste like a pine tree.

2. Stella-Artois: Of all the great beers of Belgium, you choose to drink their Keystone Light. Well played you man of the world, you traveler, you sophisticate. You can afford to pay for your crappy beer to be shipped from overseas; you also probably tip poorly, own a pink polo, and "ironically" pop your collar indoors. Drinking crappy imported beer in the midst of one of the greatest beer towns of the world is like kicking your neighbor in the shins. Want to drink a light, quaffable beer and have a good conscience? Try Steamworks Kolsch from Durango or Great Divide Hoss. Both are delicious and from the great state of Colorado. Your bar doesn't have these beers? Raise a fucking ruckus, speak to a manager and make beer drinking better for everyone.

3. Make it a strong one: Whether it's bourbon on the rocks or a gin and tonic, the proper word is "double." A double is 2-2.5oz of booze, not two shots of booze; two shots of booze is called "a drinking problem." Doubles cost more because you are getting more liquor. If you're going to nurse your bourbon and ice for two hours, don't want to order twice and want to save some money, order a double, not a strong one. Oh, and if you're ordering a strong one because you can't taste the vodka when combined with your soda, there's a reason why: Vodka is flavorless, odorless, and colorless, especially when you dilute it with flavorless, colorless, and odorless soda. You look like a douche when you say you can't taste it, because that's the idea: You shouldn't be able to taste it.

4. A glass of your house merlot:" This one is always interesting and fun. You've automatically dated yourself to the early '90s; you clearly haven't seen the movie Sideways; and you're most likely connected to at least one country club. You like fruit-forward, plush wines created with a new-world palate, which helps me a lot. Unfortunately I'm probably going to pour you a Carmenere from Chile or a delicious table wine from Valpolicella since that's what I have open. Sometimes a bartender just has to let you know that "these are not the droids you're looking for." For the record, some of my favorite wines are made from merlot; I just can't afford to drink them, let alone pour them by the glass.

5. Dealer's Choice: A pleasant trend grabbing hold in a few of Denver's bars offers you the opportunity to give those with the keys to the hen-house a chance to craft something unique and special just for you. I regularly duck into one of these places after my shift, and the bartenders know that I like to taste something that they've been working on: Sometimes that drink is a hit, sometimes it's a miss, but it's always interesting. "Dealers Choice" is a great way to learn that you actually like gin, that scotch isn't awful, and that you and your great-aunt share a secret love affair with sherry. In my experience with letting the experts work their voodoo magic, I've had religious experiences with food and drink, and it simply starts with "I normally drink this, what would you recommend for me tonight?" Granted, THIS DOES NOT WORK if your bartender is a leathery-skinned out-of-work stripper, unless the answer you are looking for is "The Clap, m'dear."


A Denver bartender

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.