How To Order Drinks At The Bar Without Embarrassing Yourself


  • Edgar says:

    Usually we can ask for a cold drink or a hot drink, but how can I ask for a bottle of water that isnt cold nor hot?

  • Rhett says:

    Thanks for the tips. Have a question:

    Is there any line for ordering an alcohol beverage and the mixing drink in two separate glasses?

  • Abel says:

    Thanks a day, i attended the bar i didn’t know how to order a drink .that day, i was boring but today that you help me to know how to do it it’s a great chance because i will not meet my water loo again.i would like to thank you for everything you do .

  • Thiha says:

    Good tips! Thank you!


HowToOrder Drinks At A Bar

Choose Your Drink 

When deciding what drink to order, make sure you do not stand directly at the bar. This will allow those who know what they want to place their order and prevents overcrowding. If you don’t know what you want, would like a recommendation, or have a question for the bartender then wait until he or she is not busy.  

When placing your drink order be prepared to answer questions as to how you would like it made and always have a plan B drink in case the bar doesn’t have what you asked for. 

Paying For Your Drinks 

There are several ways to pay for your drinks but regardless of how you choose, make sure you are ready when the time comes. If paying by credit or debit card, you can open a bar tab. The bartender will add your drinks to the bar tab and charge your card at the end of the night. Or, you can pay each time you place an order. There is also the option to pay with cash.  


Tipping is always important but even more so if you plan to become a regular. If paying with cash, tell the bartender to either keep the change or how much of the change to keep. This will save the bartender time from running back and forth with your change.  

If paying by credit or debit car, you can write the tip in.  

It is customary to leave a tip of 10-20% of the bill total. 


Who doesn’t like a nice cold ale or lager? Unless you are talking about craft beer(1), it’s pretty straightforward and arguably the easiest alcohol to order at the bar. 

A glass

If you are just ordering one beer for yourself, you can just order a glass. While ordering, it isn’t even important to specify the word “glass” in most cases. 

Ex. May I have a glass of Guinness, please? 

Ex. May I have a Guinness, please? 

The bartender(2) will certainly understand what you mean if you just say the name of the beer. However, if you want to eliminate any chance of confusion, just use the word glass. 

A pint

A pint(3) glass holds 473 ml. Bars commonly serve pints, and they became popular in the United Kingdom in the early/mid-20th century. 

Ex. May I have one pint of Carlsberg, please? 

Ex. May I get a pint of Budweiser, please?  

A pitcher

Let’s say you have a few friends, and you all want to drink together. You could buy separate glasses or pints, but to save money, you could order a pitcher(4) of beer and share it. 

Pitchers vary in size: They are commonly between 946 ml and 1893 ml. When ordering a pitcher, you will also get smaller glasses on the side, that way you can share the pitcher with friends. 

Ex. May I get a pitcher of PBR with three glasses please? 

Ex. Can we get a pitcher of Boddington with four glasses? 

Beer Flight

Not every bar will have beer flights(5). They are more common in craft beer shops where there are many different styles of beer to try. 

A flight is anywhere from four to eight small glasses of beer (three-five ounces each). You order a beer flight to sample different beers and see what you like. 

Ex. I would like a flight with your IPA, your raspberry sour, your porter, and your smoked lager. 

Learn Some Bar Lingo

Photo by PicJumbo You shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, but it doesn’t hurt to learn some basic bar vocabulary, either. That way, when your bartender or waiter asks if you want your drink “on the rocks” you know he or she isn’t actually asking if you want gravel in your booze. has a whole list of common bartending lingo, including:

  • On the Rocks: With ice. Straight up is without ice.
  • Neat: A drink served at room temperature without ice. “If someone asks for a whiskey neat, they are asking for a shot straight out of the bottle.”
  • Dirty: If you want a lot of olive juice in your martini, ask for a really dirty one. “Adding olive juice to a martini which makes it a Dirty Martini. The more olive juice, the dirtier the martini.”
  • Well Drink: When you order a well drink, you’re basically telling the bartender you have no preference of what brand of alcohol you want, so just give you the cheapest option. “A well drink is a drink where neither the brand of the liquor or brand of the mix is mentioned.”

It doesn’t hurt to do a little research, either. If you know you’re going to a bar or restaurant in advance, you can check out their wine, beer, or cocktail list online so you know what you’re getting into and you’re more comfortable when you get there. Vinepair is a fun resource to learn about different kinds of spirits, Beer Advocate has a whole section on Beer 101 and check out Wine Folly for a beginner’s guide to drinking wine.


Martinis are alcoholic drinks made with either vodka or gin. There are many different kinds of martinis, but many martinis also contain another kind of alcohol called vermouth(9). 

Depending on the type of martini you order, there could be fruit, lemon twists, or even olives inside. A dirty martini is a blend(10) of alcohol and olive juice. The dirtier the martini, the more olive juice is used. 

Dry martini

 A dry martini means adding less vermouth. This will make the martini more bitter. 

Wet martini

A wet martini means adding more vermouth, which will make the drink taste smoother. 

I am no expert on martinis, but since they vary so much, you will likely have to keep experimenting to find out what matches your taste. 

Types of Drinks

If you really want to get the party going, you can start by doing a few shots of tequila. A large shot is also called a double shot. Tilt your head back and gulp it all down. As they say,

Bottoms up!

Some beer drinkers like bottles, others like draft beer (beer from the tap), and some don’t mind drinking out of cans. Large groups of friends will want to order pitchers. It’s cheaper than buying it by the glass.

The bartender will ask if you want to open a tab. This means that you can continue ordering drinks without paying each time. When you finish your drinks, tell the bartender to close out the tab. This means you are ready to go pay. Hopefully, a friend will offer to pick up the tab, which means your friend will pay for all the drinks. Cheers to that!

Reader Success Stories

  • Mario Ibarra

Jun 5, 2017

    Mario Ibarra Jun 5, 2017

    “I’m turning 21 tomorrow and I’ve been wanting to have a bartender make me a gin and tonic. Now I know how to order it and I’ll probably try some of the drinks here, too.”…” more

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