How To Order Whiskey At A Bar Like You Know What You're Doing

The dim lighting of a trendy bar, an effortlessly cool bartender, and other patrons eagerly waiting their turn can make ordering whiskey a daunting task. It's a bit of a high-pressure situation where no one wants to appear uninformed. However, the secret key to ordering whiskey, or any spirit, lies in communicating what you like, and asking for help when you need it.

Food Republic spoke to JoAnn Street, the Portfolio Ambassador at Wild Turkey, for her advice on ordering whiskey, and it all boils down to communication. If you're uncertain or confused, the best approach is to ask the bartender for a recommendation. Street advises, "They are the pros and can steer you in the right direction." This is the perfect opportunity to mention any whiskeys you've enjoyed previously and what appealed to you about them, as this information gives the bartender a useful starting point.

The following step involves articulating the flavor profile you desire. Street points out that terms like "smooth" are too vague, as they can vary in meaning from person to person. Specific descriptors such as "sweet" or "spicy" are more beneficial, along with typical whiskey tasting notes like "oak, caramel, vanilla, maple[,] and different fruit flavors such as citrus, cherry, raisins[,] and dates."

How to properly drink the whiskey you order

So, you and your bartender have settled on a whiskey for you to try. Great! Now, you must decide how to drink it. JoAnn Street asserts that it's all about personal preference — there's no single correct way.

Whiskey can be enjoyed neat, which simply means it's served at room temperature straight in a glass. Alternating sips of water with whiskey can cleanse your palate, or you can add a splash of water directly to the whiskey itself. Adding water to whiskey can actually enhance your tasting experience. Alternatively, you can opt for whiskey on the rocks, where it's served over ice, to introduce slight dilution. If you're inclined towards a cocktail, Street recommends ordering an old fashioned, because it accentuates the whiskey's natural flavor without overwhelming it. Regardless of your choice, the aim should be to showcase, not disguise, the whiskey's flavor.