How to order at the bar or coffee shop
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
There are a few irritating situations in life where you cannot help but be annoyed - bad drivers when you are in a hurry, knotted headphones, "Press 1 for..." No one likes being in these situations, but often there is nothing individuals can do to avoid them. But that is not always the case. Take this all-too-common crime against society: holding up the queue at a bar or coffee shop. There is no excuse, and I mean no excuse, for being the person at the front of a bar or coffe shop queue saying "Ummm" or "Ooo I don't know". I have spent plenty of time working behind a bar and I have always, without exception, walked away from customers who had not decided. It is not ok. So gentlemen and ladies please, I implore you, make your decision before you get there. You have just queued up with all the time in the world to make a decision. If this seems like an insurmountable taks, if the idea of you - a fully-functioning grown-up - wading through 15 options written on a piece of card to make a decosion is unfathomable then let me help.
Gents there is an old rule of thumb which says your coffee order should not be more than three words. Stick to that - you too ladies. It works for me personally, but I drink my coffee black without sugar. Let's be honest; if you are ordering a coffee which is longer than three words then you really should have decided what you want in advance otherwise you are wading through an interinable number of combinations. If you have not gone into the shop looking for a "spiced matcha latte with soya milk and cinnamon sprinkles" then you have no business ordering one. If you did go in looking for that then stick to your convictions. Otherwise, keep it short and sweet.
This is more complicated. Bars stock a lot and vary in who offers what. There are two rules here: Know what sort of drink you want before you go to the bar and always have a "go-to" option for each category. Simply put, if you get to the front and nothing has caught your eye then revert to the go-to drink. Drinks at bars fall into five categories: Beer, spirit and mixer, cocktail, wine and soft. Decide which you fancy before you go to the bar.
If it helps here are my go-tos
Beer: Peroni/Birra Moretti/Estrella/Heineken, in that order. Everyone should also have a pick of Fosters, Kronenbourg and Stella Artois since they are served everywhere
Spirit and mixer: Gin and tonic
Cocktail: Old fashioned
Wine: Large house red
Soft: Lime and soda
Sudden death: This is the moment you are looking to avoid, despite everything you have staggered to the front of the queue and found yourself face to face with a bartender asking what you want and you have no idea. In this situation you deploy the "parachute order" which is: "I'm feeling adventurous, I've got £[insert amount you can afford to spend] what do you recommend."* Take their recommendation. If it's good you have landed on your feet, if not you won't put yourself in that situation again. When I was bartending you would have got a Holy Water shot - tequila, sambuca and tobasco sauce.
*The "parachute order" should never be deployed when trying to impress someone at the bar.