Ordering drinks can be intimidating for a non-native speaker.
You’re at a noisy, crowded night club. The music is blaring, the lights are flashing, and there is a long line of people waiting to get their drinks. You make your way to an open space at the bar. You can feel people pushing up from behind.
The bartender finally leans forward and asks the important question:
“What can I get ya’?”
It’s a very simple question, but it’s not easy to answer.
Everything is moving fast, so you quickly blurt out your order. “I’ll have 3 beers and…um…uh…a mojito.” There. You said it right. You start to relax as the bartender starts making the drinks, but suddenly, he asks a second question.
“You want that with a twist and on the rocks?”
You have NO idea what he is asking you! And now, he’s waiting for an answer. “What? Sorry?” you reply nervously. Suddenly, the music stops. You start to sweat. Everyone is looking at you. So what do you say?
For the moment, just say, “Yes.” You’ll know what he was talking about when you get your mojito with ice and a slice of lime.
But next time, here is some helpful vocabulary for ordering drinks at a bar.
With a twist means with a slice of fruit, typically lemon or lime. On the rocks means your drink will be served with ice, and neat is for a drink with no ice, no fruit, no nothing. You can order any drink followed by these phrases to customize your order.
For example, “I’ll have a whiskey on the rocks.” Or, if you’re feeling flirty, ask for a “martini, with a twist.” That will get you started on the many different ways of ordering drinks!
Alcohol comes in various containers, depending on how it is served.
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,
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR!
Beer drinkers can be picky. Some like bottles, some 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 and he will add the total to the tab. 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!
The person who decides not to drink so that he or she can safely drive home is known as the designated driver. The “d.d.” will want to order virgin drinks (without alcohol). Make sure you thank your driver, and never drink and drive!
Studies have shown that having a few drinks can actually improve your ability to speak. Alcohol lowers your fear of making mistakes, and actually can improve your pronunciation. It’s true!
I know that after studying English grammar all day, I definitely appreciate a nice glass of wine. So treat yourself to a night out with friends from time to time. It’s a great way to practice your new vocabulary for ordering drinks at a bar.