Why Bartenders Roll Their Eyes At Your Gin And Juice Order

While Alton Brown's go-to cocktail order — a classic Manhattan — is his way of testing a bartender's skill and attention to detail, your order of gin and juice is likely a test of your bartender's patience. In other words, if you've ever felt like a bartender's mood soured after you ordered a gin and juice, you probably weren't imagining it.

Sure, a gin and juice is easy enough to make, but only if you specify the type of juice. You could be referring to the classic grapefruit juice, or you might actually want one of the countless other juices stocked behind the bar — pineapple, orange, cranberry, lime, lemon, even tomato. The truth is, your bartender can't possibly know — and the lack of specificity eats up valuable time they could be using to help serve other customers. So, the best thing you can do when ordering a gin and juice is to know which gins pair well with which juices, and then tell the bartender exactly which types you want.

Know your gins and juices

If you're going to order a gin and juice, you should know that there are many varieties of gin to choose from. London Dry, for instance, has heavy notes of juniper pine, while Plymouth is full-bodied and fruity; both pair well with just about any juice you can think of. New Western Dry, on the other hand, is lighter on the juniper. Instead, it carries floral and citrus flavor notes. Gins in this category might pair better with citrus juices like orange, lemon, and lime.

Old Tom gins are typically sweeter, including notes of honey or licorice, and again pair well with citrus juices. The acid found in such fruits helps to balance out the sweetness, leaving you with a more well-rounded drink. Conversely, barrel-aged gin may taste of oak, vanilla, and spice, pairing well with apple, orange, or lemon juices. As such, you might consider asking the bartender what gin they have on hand before choosing your juice. If you're a fan of gin, you'll likely be satisfied with any combination, but it's always nice to narrow your options down to those that best suit each other.

Follow bar etiquette no matter what you're ordering

Whether you're ordering something as seemingly simple as a gin and juice or as complicated as a bloody mary, your ordering behavior should remain the same. For example, you should try to always specify the gin and juice you'd like, in that order. Just like the Starbucks drink ordering code, stating your alcohol and then additional ingredients helps the bartender remember your order while they're making it. You should also mention whether or not you'd like ice.

Even if your drink was made exactly to order, you may find that you don't like it as much as you thought you would. It's acceptable to politely send the drink back in such a scenario. If the bartender isn't too busy, they might even be able to help you find a drink that's more to your liking.

Regardless of your drink's perceived complexity — or your satisfaction with it — you should always be sure to tip your bartender for their service. You can tip either a couple of dollars per drink, or 20% of your tab (the latter being more considerate if you're ordering more complicated drinks). Your bartender will greatly appreciate it.