8 Cocktails Bartenders Say They Would Never Order
You may want to rethink your cocktail order after learning what bartenders would never drink themselves.
Bartenders avoid ordering certain cocktails for a number of reasons, be it out of respect for busy staff caught in the middle of a rush or fear of being judged for wanting to drink something that might seem basic or uncool. Regardless of the rationale, there are a select few drinks that seasoned bar professionals and mixologists unanimously steer clear of. Read on to hear what they say they would never order and why you might want to reconsider, too.
Ramos Gin Fizz
Almost unanimously, bartenders across the country are staunchly opposed to subjecting a fellow bartender to the relative labor intensity of making a Ramos Gin Fizz.
Made up of gin, lemon, lime, cream, egg white, orange blossom water, sugar, and soda, this classic frothy cocktail usually requires anywhere between five and 12 minutes of shaking in order to achieve the proper texture—plus, egg and cream cleanup is hardly anyone's favorite.
Some bars use shaking machines in order to expedite the process and save bartenders' weary shoulders, but Ohio-based bartender Katie Schanz isn't a fan of that option "In that case, they always end up gross," she says.
But Eric Trueheart, founder of cocktail company Black Yeti Beverage, says if this drink is on the menu—which you may find in New Orleans—then go for it. "They're probably proud to make it."
Moral of the story? Just read the room and you'll be golden.
Long Island Iced Tea
The Long Island Iced Tea is right up there with the Ramos Gin Fizz in terms of bartenders' most frowned-upon cocktails. Made up of vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, and a splash of cola, this drink is something most people in the industry would never order themselves.
"It's just a dumb drink that tastes pretty much only like cola, sour mix, and raw booze. It is somehow less than the sum of its parts," says Dan Adams, a bartender in Florida.
Paul Kushner, mixologist, pub owner, and CEO of MyBartender, agrees. "They are just a hodgepodge of booze, too sweet, and take little finesse to make. A $5 Long Island will taste pretty much the same as a $25 Long Island. You don't get to appreciate the unique flavors of the spirits, and the wash of sweetness overpowers everything anyway. They are also a pain to make! Too many ingredients for such a mediocre cocktail."
Working behind the bar is not for the faint of heart, and those who do it share a universal understanding of where everyday tasks fall on the enjoyability scale. Making drinks that require a blender isn't among the top favorites, as it often means more cleanup, and that's precisely why most off-duty bartenders stay away from ordering frozen drinks.
"They're noisy, and once one goes out to the dining room, everyone wants one," says industry vet Mary Bee. "We used to hide the blender."
Florida bartender Conor Canavan points out a doubly unfortunate frozen drink order: a Miami Vice. This cocktail's two components—half strawberry daiquiri and half piña colada—must be made in two separate blenders before being combined. "In my opinion, [it's] the perfect summertime [or] beachside libation," Canavan says. "But I know the bartender is cursing me."
According to Jamie Nyqvist, who was a bartender for three years in Paris, unless you're at a cocktail bar or a bar that's pretty empty, don't order a mojito.
"These are a pain to make, especially when I used to have to cut limes by hand and then physically crush the ice, too, like with a little wheel machine," she said in a TikTok video under the username @jamienyq.
Likewise, Luke Slater, founder of The Cask Connoisseur, says, "People think this is an easy drink to make, but muddling the mint can be time-consuming."
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Lemond drops, pineapple upside down cakes, Jolly Ranchers—yes, these are all the names of super-sweet shots you can order at a bar but maybe should not.
"Ordering a mixed shot is a waste," shares award-winning mixologist and hospitality industry consultant Carlos Ruiz. "The restaurant I used to work at a long time ago would charge $10 for a green tea shot (Jameson, peach schnapps, sour mix) and $8 for a Jameson shot. Why pay an extra $2 for sugar? Just ask for a lemon/lime wedge if you don't like the taste of alcohol. Our shot was a typical 1.5 oz. pour, and the mixed shot dropped down the Jameson to 1 oz."
Dirty Vodka Martini
This classic cocktail isn't on the list because it's complicated or messy to make, but rather because it feels like a throwaway order.
"A dirty vodka martini—bonus points for blue cheese stuffed olives—just feels like a jerk move," says Austin, Texas bartending expert Paul Tilton. "Especially if I am in an establishment with even a decently respectful beverage program. I feel like I am saying, 'I see all of this creativity on your menu here, but you know what? I just wanna be basic tonight.'"
"My free pass is usually in an old-school steakhouse-style dining establishment," Tilton notes. "Dim lighting, wood panels on the walls, white tablecloths—yeah, I'm definitely ordering an extra dirty vodka martini for starters before switching to red wine."
This classic cocktail has only three ingredients—bourbon, sugar, and Angostura bitters (and the optional orange peel)—which means it can either be really good or really bad.
"It is very easy to mess up since there is nothing to hide behind," say Sam and Stacy Greene, co-founders of boutique bartending company Twist & Bitters. "It is immediately noticeable if the balance of the ingredients is off. Over the years I have seen bartenders pervert this drink in all sorts of ways with sprite, club soda, too much muddled fruit, cheap maraschino cherries, etc."
If you're at brunch, by all means, have as many bloody Marys as you'd like. But if it's past lunchtime or you're frequenting an establishment that doesn't serve breakfast, you might want to find a different drink, says Lonnie Sepe, creative director of Falcon Marketing and bartending influencer.
"Chances are, PM bartenders, we don't have this stuff," she says in a TikTok video under her username @basicbartender.