Part of the fun of pretending to live in an alternate timeline is being “in the know” on how things were done back in the day. Flipping hep talk or dressing like Dean Martin are two easy ways to impress your easily impressed friends. But when you really want to throw a ball, you need to pony up to the bar and order something that screams “I learned this from my Grand Dad”.
Let’s start off with the cocktails. No self-respecting retroist would ever order a new concoction like Maker’s Mark, or a Crown and Coke, or even a “Martini” (without being very specific, see post). You have to order something that could have/would have been ordered prior to at least 1965. Here’s a list of liquor cocktails that should get you thrown out of a TGI Fridays, or make you man of the hour at the Gateway Casino in Vegas:
Dewars & Soda
J&B on the Rocks
Jack & Ginger
CC & Ginger
Beefeater Martini, with a twist
Cutty Sark & Soda
Wild Turkey, straight up
Old Grandad, neat
Seagram’s 7 & 7 (you have to say “Seagrams”)
Smirnoff Screwdriver (not Fleishman’s)
Sloe Gin Fizz
Also, asking the bartender “Do you have any 12 year old Scotch” will date you to the pre-fancy-assed Scotch era, 1980 or before.
That should do it on cocktails. Of course this list doesn’t include any exotic drinks (with the Sling being borderline), since you should only order such in an establishment that is capable of creating them properly.
Beer: If you must drink beer, you must drink very old style beer. There are a few that are still packaged very much the same as they were 75 years ago. These include Miller Highlife (the Champagne of Beers!) Michelobe, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and if you can find it, Ballentine. There are more, but I’m not much of a beer drinker, so I can’t recommend any others. Anyway, never ask for anything “lite”. That’s like asking for Fleishman’s in your Martini.
Wine: Just ask for Rosé.
Cordials: Just asking a bartender for a cordial should be enough to throw him. Galliano, Sambucca, Chambord & Cream or Drambuie will do it. Or if you really want to make his night, order a Pousse Cafe.
Well, I hope that helps you in your quest for Retroness. Try one of these requests the next time you go out for drinks or dinner. Make sure you watch the bartender make your drink, so he doesn’t give you a Philadelphia whiskey and Sprite when you order a Seagram’s 7 & 7. You should probably memorize the recipes too…but since I’m too lazy to post all those suckers here, you’ll have to look em up yourself!
Cheers and Cen’t Anni, Tiki Chris
Reporting from the cocktail lounge connected to the Bohemian Restaurant at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar & Resort, South Florida
If I made a few typos, please excuuuse me, as I am drinking a Dimple Pinch, neat.
17 Replies to “Ordering Old-Style Drinks to Amuse Your Friends and Annoy Your Bartender”
Great article. I’m dealing with many of these issues as well..
What about the Mai Tai, Zombie, Tom Collins, Gimlet, Grasshopper and Highball??
My folks used to serve these, and more, at their parties in the 40s – 70s! Swanky! 😉
I once ordered a Singapore Sling and the bartender blatantly refused, stating, “only what’s on the menu, pal!”. There were at least 30 different “martinis” and other random, unknown cocktails. I was very disappointed. So I ordered a double rum on the rocks. He still looked at me weird. Probably because it was not on the menu.
Ha! I’m surprised you didn’t leave:)
I learned the Jack & Ginger from my Uncle Tim, who is younger than I am (and not my uncle). He, however, I’m sure learned it from his dad, who learned it from HIS dad… and the whole family, while actually from Oklahoma, carry an air of Southern gentry. My memories of my own dad are of G&Ts and Campari and soda. Grandpa, if I recall, drank Old Fashioneds while Grandma sips vodka on the rocks. ::shudder::
Don’t forget the Rusty Nail and the Gibson. The bartender will think you are at least 85.
Oh, I see the Rusty Nail IS listed. Nevermind
I should have included the Gibson! And a Gimlet too.
I’ll have a Jack and Ginger. Maybe two.
Two Jack & Gingers comin’ up
I’ve thrown many a bartender just by ordering a Sidecar… Can you believe it? A freakin’ Sidecar? I had one SuperTownie bartender actually say, “Nah, I don’t make East Coast drinks”. LAME.
Oh, I believe it. Most don’t know it’s an actual drink. I had one girl argue with me that a “sidecar” was a shot on the side, like with a beer. That was good for a laugh!!!
Come on up to Wisconsin sometime and order an Old Fashioned. No one will look at you funny. That is still a popular drink. Although, muddling the fresh orange isn’t how it is made very often anymore.
Being from the beer town of Milwaukee it is easy to pick up on beer history. Blatz and Schlitz are two old style Milwaukee beers that are making a comeback recently too.
This was a fun post!
Thanks Damon…and SCHLITZ! Haven’t seen that in years. And I’ve heard of, but have never seen Blatz. Fantastic!
More than once I ordered a Glenlivet on the rocks with a splash…and got asked “a splash of what?”
I always enjoy the look of confusion when I ask for a little something “neat” 😉
Enjoy your pinched dimple!
Imagine the particular crowd we have in South Florida…everything is so trendy, even drinks that were hip a few years ago are gone with the wind…so ask a bartender down here to make anything like this, and they just look at you like you’re crazy…and say something like, “How about a Mojito?” (which is, too, a classic drink…but never seems to go out of vogue here)