Urban legend dictates that every rock star has one hit song they are utterly bored with and can’t stand playing in concert. While at first glance performing artists and cocktail makers have little in common, most bartenders share similar experiences with many of the drinks they are asked to serve.
It’s the same everywhere in the world
The experience of the bartenders we spoke reveals that it takes a lot of different factors to shape the cocktail consumption habits of a particular country, region or city. Who drinks what largely depends on the location, time and occasion, and very often on the waiter or bartender in question. Whether you’re in a five star hotel, a nice bar or seaside club, which spirits are available behind the bar, and the continent you’re in can also make a big difference. That said, there are certain drinks that bartenders the world over greet with a resigned sigh whenever the waiter brings in an order, and that they neither have the time nor the energy to refine to perfection. With the help of bartenders from London, New York, Vienna and Budapest, we have put together a list of why some drinks are annoying or difficult to prepare, and what they say about you and your drinking habits.
Long Island Ice Tea
Those in the industry may know that this drink has nothing to do with tea or Long Island, but our guests are not always so well informed. The mix actually contains vodka, gin, rum, tequila and triple sec, as well as cola, citrus fruit and added sugar. The recipe might sound pretty potent, but it’s a long drink at the end of the day, and the brutal alcohol content is somewhat blunted by the cola, so the alcohol molecules found in the gin, vodka, rum – they’re essentially the same in every spirit – don’t do any serious damage to your system. If you want to just get buzzed, it’s much better to simply slug a shot of rum or tequila – it’s faster, cheaper and there’s definitely a lot less sugar.
Nine and a half out of ten guests adore this fresh mint and lime drink. So what’s the problem? It takes an age to prepare properly, so if someone asks for three, and then halfway through making it their friend asks for three more, it can be something of a headache. And this is made all the worse for the discerning bartender when the quality of the cocktail is ruined by some special request. Like asking for it without ice, for example.
A sweet, long drink, the consistency of which depends on the method of preparation: blended, shaken or something else entirely. It’s the boiled sweet of cocktails: everyone has heard of them and most likely tasted one too. That’s why everyone has their opinion on the perfect Pina Colada. Unfortunately, the drink has been around for too long for us to reduce the sugar content, despite our best intentions. Happily, organic shops are full of coconut water and other alternatives to help bartenders create various different forms of the drink. And the classic version served in a tulip glass? Oh, that’s so last year…
Sex on the… anywhere
The classic Sex on the Beach may be the alpha and omega of cocktails, but no one has really been able to understand why ever since it first emerged in the 1960s. Obviously, shouting the name across the bar demonstrates a certain amount of courage, but other than that, there’s nothing really of any real interest here. Most probably, someone just found a good name that everybody could identify with – in one way or another. This is an old-school drink, so it’s best to trust the recommendation of the house.
The B52 does give you that “wow” factor with its classic stripy look, a last remnant of the renaissance of layered drinks, but the sugar content hits your system first, not the alcohol. And even for an experienced bartender, it takes a long time to make. So when someone asks for five B52s in some weird combination at two in the morning, they shouldn’t expect an ear-to-ear grin from the bartender. More likely an unspeakably deep sigh disapproval.
I had this drink once…
Failing to come up with the name of a cocktail is unlikely to endear you to any bartender. Yet if our guests remember most of the ingredients from what they drank on holiday, the proportions and the way to make it, the task is not impossible. If, however, you don’t remember the exact recipe, you are likely to end up disappointed or just “Yeah, whatever, that’ll do…” Referring back to the drinks menu can be a great help in ensuring a positive outcome.
Expensive spirit + energy drink (or cola)
Unfortunately, sometimes the order is less about the sublte flavours of the drink than it is about demonstrating the buyer’s spending power at the bar. What goes through the mind of the person making it? What a waste of expensive liquor…
We are talking here about the various fruit-flavoured iterations of the MarTEENi drink. Thankfully, these abominations disappeared from Hungarian market so fast they never really come into fashion. Appletinis, strawberry, blueberry and raspberry Martini shakes are pretty simple, and are popular with kids who have only just started drinking, at least according to our London and New York colleagues. For the teenage girl’s choice, mix vodka with one or two types of fruit and add a splash of lemon juice and some sugar.
Of course, all these cocktails come in dozens of variations. In the best places, you will find most classic cocktails have been updated with a new twist, even though they have been popular with the masses for such a long time that they have picked up on some general flavour trends. And it’s also true that it’s not the job of any bartender to judge us on what we order. So what if you want a Pina Colada to celebrate your anniversary? Cheers! Especially if your husband or wife asked you out for the first time in a Spanish seaside resort 12 years ago…