Getting what you want.

The title may not sound like a typical cocktail related blog post. It can apply to more than just ordering cocktails. In life, we like to get exactly what we want. But aren’t there times when being demanding and getting exactly what you want ends up being very unfulfilling?

I know when I go out to a bar or restaurant and order a cocktail, I have certain expectations about what I’m going to get.

I have assessed the establishment, perused the drink menu, judged the liquor selection behind the bar, given the bartender working the once over and then decided what to order.

I know I have to be flexible about what I expect depending on where I am. This flexibility in getting what I want saves me from being disappointed when ordering a drink.

If I see a wall of flavored vodka, a lonely bottle of Bacardi rum and a few random bourbons and whiskeys, chances are I’ll play it safe and just order a Jameson on the rocks. It’s a safe sipper for me and usually stocked behind the bar. I would not order a complicated drink or even a gin martini. The result just would not be satisfactory.

Some bars make delicious variations of classic cocktails. Like at a local bar near me, they make a fantastic Maple Syrup Old Fashioned. I tried several other cocktails on their menu before hitting upon this one and now it’s a favorite.

If I’m at a chain restaurant and the drink menu consists of brightly colored, sugar filled  margaritas served in fish bowls, I’ll probably just order a beer.

If I see local spirits or locally sourced ingredients featured on a drink menu, I’ll order that cocktail. It’s something I may never get to taste again. While on vacation in Hawaii, a bar we visited featured a Frozen Coconut Mojito. It had locally grown coconuts, fresh mint and a Hawaiian rum that they infused with coconut. This was once of the best frozen drinks I’ve ever tasted.

The same can’t be said for the Blue Hawaii pictured next to the Frozen Coconut Mojito. It was sugary and very disappointing.

When I’m sitting at a well stocked bar with unusual liquor choices, a bartender who is attentive and may even suggest a favorite off the menu then I’ll be adventurous. Chances are I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the cocktail set in front of me.

The one thing that I never do is dictate step by step instructions for how I want a cocktail made. It comes across as pretentious and rude.

Recently on social media, a discussion was started by a person who had a business card printed with an exact drink recipe he likes. He hands this card to bartenders when ordering. He does not bother trying to explain what he wants because as he stated, “they’ll just screw it up or come back and ask again.”

This guy must be hated by so many bars and bartenders. I understand that he is spending his hard earned money on a cocktail and likes what he likes but seriously it just seems so…… I’m not even sure what word to use…..jerky seems the kindest word to use.

The bar may not stock the exact brands he’s requesting. The bartender may be able to make an awesome riff on the cocktail he likes.

Or here’s a novel idea, try something new and save your favorite drink for when you’re at home with all the ingredients you need and can make it yourself.

While I understand being particular, I think there’s too many outstanding cocktails to always drink the same exact thing. As with life, it pays to mix it up a bit and try something new.

We all think we know what we want, but sometimes when presented with an alternate choice, we realize the thing we thought we wanted, was not it at all. Wow – that’s a pretty complicated theory just for a drink choice. But it’s true and it applies to life also. So throw away that dopey card and get crazy!

My favorite drink is the Mai Tai.  I specifically like the version Trader Vic invented in 1944. Do I order this when out? Not usually, I’d be disappointed nine times out of ten. The only place where I’m consistently satisfied with their Mai Tai is at The Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It is a landmark Polynesian restaurant and bar in business since 1956. The bartenders there know what they’re doing and don’t need me handing them a little card to tell them how to make anything.

I order a Mai Tai many times when I see one on a menu elsewhere. I like to see how other bartenders put their twist on this iconic cocktail. Sometimes I’ll even ask for a specific rum in the cocktail if I see it sitting on the shelf. But I’ve never given exact instructions on how I want it made.

I’ve drank some horrific Mai Tai’s and some surprisingly awesome Mai Tai’s. That’s all part of the fun. So loosen up, and order a cocktail.

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