The 9 Drinks Bartenders Hate Making the Most
"It's the saddest, most embarrassing thing I have to make," one bartender says.
"I was once at a bar that said on the menu, 'Well drinks $5, complicated drinks $8, stupid drinks $10. Bartender gets to decide what is stupid,'" shares Eric Trueheart, founder of cocktail company Black Yeti Beverage. Generally speaking, most bartenders and mixologists are more than happy to build any drink you want, but even the most accommodating of the bunch have certain orders that get under their skin. To find out what they hate making the most, we spoke to veteran bartenders to share their most-dreaded drink orders, from cocktails that are difficult to make to those they believe are just, well, "stupid." Read on for their thoughts.
Mark Schettler, a bartender based in New Orleans, Louisiana, says a whiskey mint julep is a "stupid drink to order" in a cocktail bar. "[It's] mint, sugar, whiskey, and ice—you can do that at home."
Juleps can also be extremely loud to make if you don't own a crushed ice machine. "My bar is small. We literally couldn't get a crushed ice machine if we wanted to, so we have an ice crusher instead (for making snowballs)" which is very loud, Schettler says. "When it's broken, we have to muddle ice by hand—loudly."
There's no denying that White Russians are a classic. Sure, they're not the most balanced drink, but they do have a time and a place—just not after midnight at a packed club.
"One time when I worked at a nightclub, someone ordered a White Russian at [2 a.m.]," says Katy Guest, an industry vet based in New York City. "I had all the ingredients to make it, but I just told the customer 'no.' Who trusts dairy from a nightclub at 2 a.m.?"
As their name suggests, layered cocktails are those that layer different liquids so that they form bands of color. According to Paul Kushner, mixologist, pub owner, and CEO of MyBartender, two of the most popular are a Pousse Café and a B52, both of which he says "are a royal pain in the butt."
"You not only have to pour each layer carefully to avoid breaking the surface tension, but you also need to remember the proper order of ingredients or it could turn into a muddy mess," Kushner explains.
Ramos Gin Fizz
Perhaps the most-loathed cocktail by bartenders, a Ramos Gin Fizz not only requires a lot of ingredients (gin, lemon, lime, cream, egg white, orange blossom water, sugar, and soda), but it takes a lot of time and elbow grease to make.
Mixologist and bar personality Elissa Dunn, posting a video on TikTok, says that while she doesn't "hate" making this, it does make her sigh, as she compares it to cooking a delicate soufflé. "You have to shake it for a really long time, you have to let it set, it usually takes, if you do not have a hand blender, somewhere around 12 minutes."
The biggest gripe bartenders have with a Bloody Mary is all the ingredients it takes to make one—vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, celery salt, Tabasco, and lemon juice.
But the other issue, as Luke Slater, founder of The Cask Connoisseur, notes, is that today there are so many different riffs on this cocktail. "It can sometimes be difficult to guess what a customer may like in their drink."
Utah-based bartender Xania V. Woodman says that a vodka martini is simply "a chilled 1.5-ounce serving of vodka that will cost you more than ordering a chilled 1.5 shot of vodka because of the word 'martini.'"
The glassware is, of course, also a differentiator in this equation. "There's nothing I can do to make [a vodka martini] look better in the glass that it sadly halfway fills," says Woodman. "When someone asks for it with an olive, I give them three in an attempt to displace volume and make it look fuller. But it's the saddest, most embarrassing thing I have to make."
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Along the same lines as the vodka martini, Sam and Stacy Greene, co-founders of boutique bartending company Twist & Bitters, say "a little piece of our soul dies" every time a customer orders a vodka soda. "It's quite possibly the most boring, flavorless, and mundane cocktail a person can order. It's the equivalent of someone asking a chef to serve them a piece of plain, un-toasted white bread for dinner."
That said, if a vodka soda is what you're in the mood for, the Greenes say they won't judge you. "We'll just feel bad for you," they quip.
Kushner also dislikes making any "bomb" drinks, those that are made by dropping a shot glass of liquor into a larger glass filled with a chaser. Jägerbombs, a shot of Jägermeister dropped into a glass of Red Bull energy drink, is probably the most common.
"They aren't difficult to make per se, but you use up twice the glassware and they seem to always be ordered for large groups," says Kushner. "Large group drinks also mean lower tips, in my experience, since the person buying tends to just round up the total instead of tipping a proper percentage."
Going off-menu can be tricky territory. You're usually in the clear if you order a classic cocktail (think martinis, Manhattans, sours, and the like), but sometimes what seems like a simple request can be overly complicated to make.
"If the bar is busy, bartenders hate making anything with more than three ingredients that's not on the menu," says Trueheart. "Save the complicated requests for when things calm down."
On the flip side, Kushner says he hates making a basic cocktail when he's working at a craft cocktail bar. "When you come to a bar that is known for their signature cocktails or the creativity of the mixologist, it's a bit of a bummer when we are asked to make a G&T." Basic rule of thumb, according to Kushner: "Context is truly key for cocktails!"