The Dumbest Questions You Can Ask a Bartender

By: Dan Gentile


Credit: Shutterstock (edited)

Some people say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but those people have never been asked about the gluten content of a margarita. Bartenders field questions like this all the time, and although most are happy to help clueless customers, there are certain questions that draw the ire of even the friendliest barkeep… and they’re asked with alarming frequency. Here are the questions you should never ask a bartender – but probably will – according to actual bartenders.

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Why isn’t this glass full?
Because the only place you’re going to see a full glass of wine is in the hands of Tyrion Lannister.

What do you make the best?
Some drinks are more complicated than others, but bartenders don’t think this way because the same basic skills go into making a Manhattan as a martini. Most often, this question gets translated as “what’s the easiest drink for you to make right now?” Especially considering that it makes you sound like you don’t give a crap what you’re drinking.

What’s your favorite thing to make?
This question is also translated as “what’s the easiest drink for you to make right now?”

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What’s cheap?
You are! What you meant to ask is if there “are any specials running tonight?”

What’s good here?
At the heart of this question there’s an honest desire to learn what makes a bar unique, but there are far better/less condescending ways to ask. This implies that other than their specialty rum punch bowls, everything else tastes like a snifter of mediocrity.

Could I have something that’s not too sweet?
Your bartender is probably happy to lay off the simply syrup, but this question rules out Jolly Rancher shots and little else. The problem is that everyone’s sweetness barometer is different, and also that the stereotypical person asking this question doesn’t know any other criteria for how to describe a cocktail. A bartender is glad to listen to you as you describe your tastes, so do that instead.

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Can you make a Bob Marley shot?
They probably can, but will need a few minutes to consult a bartending book purchased on sale from Spencer’s Gifts.

Will this give me a headache?
Unless the bartender doubles as your primary care physician, he doesn’t know about your history of migraines.


Credit: Flickr/Dennis Wilkinson

Does muddled mean there’s mud in it?
The answer is no. And yes, this question is asked far more often than you can even imagine.

Just give me a beer?
The person asking this question will invariably be unsatisfied with whatever type of beer they receive.

Do you guys do birthday shots?
The answer is no. But nice try, cheapskate.


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Is that margarita gluten-free?
The answer is always yes. Grains aren’t going anywhere near tequila, but even barley-based spirits are safe territory because distillation removes all the gluten. It’s been anecdotally reported that some people still have bad reactions, but the science isn’t on their side.

Can I get that extra strong?
Yes, that’s called a double, and it costs extra.

Can you put some extra vodka in it?
Yes, that’s called a double, and it costs extra.


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Do you make a good… ?
Some cocktails like Bloody Marys will change from bar to bar, but any bartender worth their bitters should be able to execute all the classics with equal quality. Asking about it is a recipe for stink eye.

What can you make me that’s strong?
The S word rears its ugly head once again. Bartenders hate this question because it prioritizes alcohol quantity over quality, and it doesn’t actually guide them in making a recommendation.

I had this drink once but I don’t remember the ingredients, can you make it?
The answer is no, your bartender cannot read your mind, and even if they could it would not help since you don’t know what you’re asking for.

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