Time Out Melbourne

Want to win your bartender's respect? Here are some dos and don'ts of drink orders

DISCLAIMER: Really, you need to order what you like, and if you want a Midori Illusion, God speed. But if you want to try something tasty, here's what your friendly Melbourne bartenders recommend at the moment.

Ask for a dirty Hendrick's gin martini

This is a double homicide summed up in one bad drink order. The problem? Gins are different. Hendrick's suits cucumber, not olives, so you're showing your ignorance, and secondly, dirty martinis (where you add olive brine) belong in dirty 80s movies. “You may as well order a kebab,” as Everleigh man Alistair Walker puts it.

Sweat the small stuff

Calling for a certain top shelf liquor in a cocktail where it makes up an imperceptible portion of your drink is pretentiousness incarnate.

Order countless pots of beer

How much do you reckon bartenders love the fact that you’re coming back every five minutes because you want to do cheap rounds?

Be a candy bandit

If your drink comes with an umbrella, or has the words melon, passionfruit or blue in the description and you’re not in a pool, or at the LuWOW, don’t order it. Sure, it’s on the list, but only so the bouncers know which young trashbag’s bags to search on the way out.

Ask for an Espresso martini or Cosmopolitan

Sorry, we’re just the messenger here folks. We know you love 'em and they were on Sex and the City and all, but they’re just not cool right now. Think of them as the woollen jeans of drinks. They may come back, but consider Space Bagging ‘em for a while, OK?

Get a vodka soda at a good bar

Aka the Skinny Bitch. Ladies, we get it, but in the bartenders eyes, you’re not on a one way track to sleek hotness; you’re the unappreciative lamo who goes to MONA and sits in the café checking Facebook.


Own your order

This is the exception to the rule of bad drink* ordering. James Bond’s favourite drink is a ladylike vodka martini that’s diluted by vigorous shaking ferchrissakes. So if you like the Kahlua and milk of a White Russian, or a JD and Coke, order it like you mean it, and nobody will dare question you. *Exception does not apply to anything made with Blue Curaçao.

Sit at the bar

Seriously. Do it. Go on a weeknight too when it’s quiet enough to get some chat time with the bartender. It’s the quickest way to learn about drinks, and therefore learn what you like and what you should order.

Trust thy bartender. Lose the list

The Everleigh only has five cocktails on the list. That’s no mistake. The final offering ‘bartender’s choice’ makes it the biggest menu in Melbourne. When you go to a great bar, the menu is often only intended as crutch for lazy people. These guys know how to tailor drinks to your tastes. Let them do their job!


Whisky, whiskey
Nine out of ten bartenders claim to go weak at the knees for a gal who takes her whisky (better yet, American rye whiskey) neat with a craft beer chaser. And while we’re not encouraging you to drink your way into bartenders’ pants, we can confirm that this is a great way to enjoy both types of booze.

Great things are happening for Melbourne and craft beer right now, so put your big brand bottles down: there’s a whole world of awesome you’re missing out on. Any bar worth its salt is pretty well stocked with interesting gear from local brewers like Southern Bay, Red Hill, and Hargreaves Hill. Beer cocktails are worth a look too. Get a Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew at the Beaufort – a fresh mix of gin, lemon, house steeped ginger syrup topped with a beer float.

Four-ingredient cocktails are still going strong. Try a Mary Pickford of rum, fresh pineapple, grenadine and maraschino (cherry) liqueur if your palate isn’t quite ready for the boozy assault of a Toronto (rye whiskey, herbal Fernet Branca, sugar syrup and bitters, served straight up).The Everleigh, Bar Americano, the Black Pearl and EDV do these numbers best.

Mixed drinks
Bars are stocking seriously good spirits at the moment, and a lot of them are making their own mixers from ginger beer to fresh juices, which makes a simple twosome a pretty good idea. Good ice, fresh grapefruit soda and a great tequila with a salt rim is pretty much your perfect Paloma – pride of Mexico.

Speaking of tequila, hot off the Mexican bandwagon, we’ve learnt that this liquor is actually a great drink that’s had a bad rap. Try some complex aged (anejo) numbers at Little Blood.

Aperitif cocktails
This is the future friends. Look out for a lot of vermouth based cocktails in 2013. "This is the trend in the States right now," Little Blood's Paul Ramsey tells us, "which means we can expect to find it filtering over here soon."

Updated on 28 Apr 2014.

By Gemima Cody   |  
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