I’m going to teach you how to order a cocktail like a “real man” so that you don’t suffer the same humiliation that I did a while back. My wife and I went out with some friends to celebrate my buddy’s birthday. The birthday boy wanted to go to an upscale (overpriced) restaurant because he likes to watch me pretend I’m not phased when I see a meal bill for more than $30. He’s a bit of a financial sadist, but he’s a good friend, so we obliged. I dusted off ye olde blazer and shined up my Payless best.
I knew everyone in our party would order fancy cocktails to celebrate. I’m not a huge drinker, and usually don’t order mixed drinks. I can’t remember the last time I ordered a Harvey Screwdriver, or a Long Island Iced Russian. Those are cocktails, right? They sound more like add-ons for an hourly escort service (not that I know.) Moving on.
I figured I’d join in the club this time and order a hard liquor mixed drink, like a “real man.” I didn’t want to be the odd man out. Besides, when has peer pressure ever led anyone astray? I struggled for a few hours before dinner with what I should order when the time came. Suddenly, it hit me: “Manhattan.” That’s what my grandfather drank any time my family was feeling fancy and decided to take gramps to the swankiest joint he was willing to pay for; usually The Red Lobster.
I researched online what’s in a Manhattan. Although there are a few variations, the standard is this:
Marachino cherry juice
Addendum: If you are not accustomed to drinking hard liquor, you may also think you taste a slight hint of gasoline in this drink. I assure you, the recipe does not call for gasoline. That’s just the taste of not being a “nancy-boy.”
It sounded good enough to me (at least the cherries did.) We sat down at the restaurant and the waiter came over to introduce himself. He asked for our drink orders. This was my moment! I was going to wow the entire table, nay, the entire restaurant with my worldliness and maturity. I might as well have been James Bond (or at the very least, his slightly less sophisticated brother, Skippy Bond.) It didn’t exactly go as I planned.
Waiter – “And for you sir?” he asked, not knowing the fancy-splosion about to hit his ears.
Me -“I’ll have a Manhattan” with one eyebrow raised
Waiter “Wonderful, sir. Your choice of Bourbon?”
Me – “Maker’s Mark” switching raised eyebrows. I was ready.
Waiter – “Bitters?” I stared blankly. Wasn’t that a standard part of the recipe?
Me – “Uuhh yeess?” Both eyebrows raised.
Waiter – “On the rocks or neat?” This guy was obviously trying to fool me with his 20 questions routine.
Me – “Neat” I stared him down “O.K. Corral” style, even though I had no idea what neat meant.
Waiter – “Up?”
Me – “Sorry?”
Waiter – “UP?”
Me – “Do we have to switch tables?”
Waiter – “Would you like your drink up, sir?”
Me – “Yes. Um. Straight Up.”
Waiter – “I’m sorry sir?”
Me – “No problem”
Waiter – “What’s no problem, sir?”
Me – “Whatever you apologized for.”
Waiter – “I didn’t apologize for anything.”
Me – “Well that’s on you. I gave you a chance.”
By this point we were both so bewildered by the exchange that we were trying to find any way out. He decided to just push through
Waiter – “Do you want that with a twist?”
Me – “YES!” as I looked toward my friends and rolled my eyes, as if to say “Do you believe the nerve of this amateur?”
I had no idea what I was ordering anymore. The last four questions he asked me were just a blur, and I was pretty sure I had just requested that he dance the twist upon returning to our table.
Waiter – “Thank you sir.”.
We stared at each other briefly with a burning hatred. Even though the process had been painful, I made it to the end. I had stuck to my guns, and proved that I was a mature man, and not some inexperienced little child ordering a Shirley Temple.
Then the waiter looked at my wife and said “And for you ma’am?” “I’ll just have a Coke.” she responded. “ARE YOU F@#*ING KIDDING ME?” I thought to myself. I had just endured the Spanish inquisition from this dude so I could be like you, and you just ordered a Coke? Surely, she had been intimidated by my superior cocktail ordering skills, so she took herself out of the game.
I knew my friends would not leave me dangling in the wind; the only guy drinking an expensive cocktail at the birthday celebration. Then, my friends left me dangling in the wind; the only guy drinking an expensive cocktail at the birthday celebration. I tried, without success, to hide my frustration. My friend was delighted. Not only did he get to watch me cringe when the bill came, but he got to watch me cringe with every sip of the overpriced, very strong drink throughout the evening.
Although the experience was slightly embarrassing and horribly expensive, it did force me to learn more about ordering drinks. Even if you’re someone who normally doesn’t drink, it’s probably a good idea to do more research than I did. If you want to order a drink like a “real man,” find out what the possible questions are that come with your drink of choice and be prepared to answer them. If that sounds like too much work for you, then just go ahead and order yourself a Shirley Temple.
If you want to see another post about age-appropriate dilemmas, read Should You Chuck Your Chuck Taylors?