The Most Polite Way To Send A Drink Back, According To An Expert

Look, it happens. The cocktail you ordered arrives at your table — pretty as can be — but the flavor is just not what you expected. Now you're regretting that you ordered the vodka-based drink with the cute name, as you usually do, instead of asking what those unusual craft cocktail ingredients actually taste like. However, there's no reason to suffer through a beverage that isn't to your liking.

Jessica King, co-owner and master mixologist at Brother Wolf in Knoxville, Tennessee, knows a thing or two about guest satisfaction. If a customer is dissatisfied for any reason, she says, "it is an immediate priority to rectify the situation and supplement with a drink more customized to their desires." So don't hesitate to send a drink back; just be polite, direct — your server wants to understand exactly what went wrong so it won't happen again next time — and patient. Whether the server or bartender made an error, or you simply ordered something you thought you'd like but didn't, it's definitely worth letting your server know so they can get you something you will enjoy. Remember, there's a solution to be had.

How to get your perfect drink in hand

Politely telling your server that you didn't like the drink is the first step, but now you need to explain why. This provides them with valuable information to bring you a beverage more to your liking. As advice to diners in this situation, Jessica King says, "If you believed that you would enjoy the described flavors, begin by emphasizing what you hoped or expected the drink to taste like, and follow with the ways in which it fell short of your expectation. Be specific! It is entirely possible that with a small adjustment of added bitter, sweet, acid, fat or salt, your expectations may yet be met."

If the drink is completely off the mark, most restaurants will simply cover the cost and bring you something entirely different. "The cost of one cocktail is never worth the loss of a new regular," King explains. Even if you opt to swap the drink instead of modifying it, it's still important to discuss your preferences with your server or bartender. Remember, they're the experts, and if you articulate what you're looking for, they can definitely guide you in the right direction. While mistakes do occur, you should feel confident asking questions and considering cocktail ordering etiquette to help you get a better drink from the start.