If it wasn’t apparent before, we’re here to confirm that, yes, there are drinks bartenders hate to make. Should we avoid ordering them? Professional bartenders weigh in.
A wonderful perk of bartending, we hear, is the artistry of concocting a deliciously picturesque blend of spirits enjoyed by many. Just the thought of a premium cocktail conjures up images of a uniquely bright, grapefruit-colored Paloma and the layered flavors of a Mai Tai. It had us thinking, of all these mixes, what drinks would bartenders actually hate making?
The most despised drinks in the field of bartending might surprise you. We’ve put together a quick list along with some relevant notes to hopefully discourage you from upsetting bartenders on busy bar nights.
The Splendid Blended Job of Bartending
First of all, is there a more hip job than being a bartender? Most would agree that serving up adult slushies and barely sodas, interacting with different people, accessing only the best alcoholic beverages, and – on good nights – lucrative earnings is better than a 9 to 5 at a desk. The world of nightlife has a special allure and, for the most part, bartenders seem to really love their job. Aside from occasional grumpy or difficult patrons plus being on your feet, it can be a perfect fit for outgoing, creative, ambitious, and patient hospitality professionals.
What we know about the market is that the restaurant and food industry is diverse. Within it, bartending is a respectable position that continues to flourish in terms of job growth and demand. According to Data USA, the bartending industry is expected to grow over 6% over the next few years.
Bartenders typically work at restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and other food service and drinking establishments. During busy hours, they are under pressure to serve customers quickly and efficiently.
Growth in the Standards of Mixology
Historically, employees working behind bars, distilleries, and breweries have been referred to as bartenders, cocktail waitresses, barkeepers, tapsters, and even barmaids. The early 2000s witnessed a new trend emerge centered around the creation of unique cocktails. The rise of cocktail culture through a style labeled mixology transformed the world of drinking. Mixology is the profession that focuses on mixing traditional cocktails with other novel and unique ingredients.
In the digital age, cocktail recipes are providing viral content being shared by influencers and larger websites like AllRecipes.com and Food.com. Restaurants have noted that unique cocktail blends garner more positive reviews and notability among tourism magazines, guides, and critics. In short, they’re a great way to make any bar stand out.
However, the downside is that bartenders and mixologists understand the inefficiencies and setbacks that premium cocktails present to busy bars. According to an article in Forbes, it takes the average bartender about 30 seconds to pour a glass of wine, about 45 seconds to pull a draft beer, and about a minute to make a classic Martini. On the other hand, it takes a mixologist about four minutes (or more) to make a specialty cocktail. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include the time spent taking the order, ringing it up, collecting money, and running a credit card. In the real-world, four minutes may sound like no time at all, but with hundreds of patrons pouring in during Happy Hour and weekend outings, these times can certainly add up.
Understandably, drinks bartenders hate to make often involve those that take up time and prevent turning customers and therefore, losing out on sales and tips. Specialty drinks, in the end, seem like unnecessary fluff from behind a bar.
Where is the Bartending Industry Headed?
Before we get to the list of drinks that bartenders hate, let’s quickly examine what is expected for the bartending industry. Are there ways of improving certain inefficiencies? How do patrons order their favorite specialty drinks without feeling as though they’re imposing on a bartender’s shift work and obligations?
Assuming 50% of a mixologist’s time is spent actually making drinks, the earning that can be expected every hour for wine, draft beer, classic cocktails, and specialty drinks is well documented. The breakdown by Forbes is as follows:
- Wine by the glass is about 60 per hour equivalent to $480
- Draft Beer is about 40 drinks per hour equivalent to $240
- Classic cocktails are about 30 per hour equivalent to $270
- Specialty cocktails are about 10 per hour equivalent to $120
Technology is working to help bars improve their efficiencies and revenue growth. Changes emerging post-pandemic within the technical arena include:
- Cocktail kit companies
- Booze delivery
- Liquor store service
- Bartenders relying on social media to teach patrons
Smartphone apps are also addressing problems that are unique to bars, breweries, and distilleries. A new app, Gloworder for example, is assisting bartenders in managing orders and providing lead time to help turn out drinks sooner and without getting backlogged. The expectation is to provide top-tier drinks without the downside of delays. It can also answer the unspoken question about social distancing in areas like crowded bars, music venues, and distilleries. The fact remains, premium cocktails are now expected for personalized touch and USPs.
Drinks Bartenders Hate to Make
Bartending after a worldwide pandemic may change in its approach, but it’s unlikely that seasoned bartenders will feel any better about making the following drinks. Here’s that list (finally!) of the worst drinks bartenders hate to make. The summary list includes:
- Pina Coladas
- Lemon Drops
- Gin and Juice
- Mint Leaves
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces white rum
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- Club soda
- Mint sprig (garnish)
- Lime wedge/wheel (garnish)
A favorite among many patrons, Mojitos are the perfect combination of Caribbean staples: citrus and rum. While it’s a tasty refresher for drinkers, Mojitos are hated by bartenders near and far, primarily because who wants to muddle leaves? They’re one of the most time-consuming drinks and often very costly for busy servers.
As one bartender, Noah Esperas of Le Duplex in San Francisco put it: “Honestly, if I am slammed at 1 a.m. and someone asks for four Mojitos, I won’t make them. If it costs $9 for a Mojito and $8 for a Grey Goose (vodka), the bar isn’t losing much and I can make up for it in tips with the other people by saving time.”
Alternative: if you like Mojitos and the bar is crowded, consider a Gin Rickey, instead. This combines lime, gin, and club soda. Another refresher that will put any bartender at ease.
2. Piña Colada
- 2 ounces rum
- 1 ½ ounces cream of coconut
- 1 ½ ounces pineapple juice
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- Pineapple wedge (garnish)
Most bartenders are waiting for the day when this premium cocktail goes out of style. While it’s a delicious summer treat, blended beverages tend to rank very low among mixologists. Not only are they time-consuming, but they’re messy and sticky, too. Many bartenders feel it’s a glorified slushy with some rum.
Alternative: if you’re into summer favorites that feature tropical fruits, try a Sex on the Beach. This peachy dream can elevate a traditional cocktail with some different flavored juice. It features vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, cranberry juice.
3. Lemon Drop
- 2 ounces vodka
- ½ ounce triple sec
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- Sugar rim
First squeezed to life in the 1970s, this cocktail was originally a fan favorite worldwide. Perhaps there are still millions that call this candy-inspired drink top of the line. For those working the line, it’s just another on a long list of drinks bartenders hate to make. Turns out, the sugar. . . ain’t so sweet. The issue with a sugar-rimmed glass is the mess and the stickiness.
Alternative: are lemons your squeeze? Kamikaze is a great alternative featuring the exact same ingredients sans sugar rim.
4. Gin and Juice
- 2 ounce gin
- Juice to top
Unlike the others that made the list of the worst cocktails for bartenders, gin and juice is seemingly basic. With only two ingredients, bartenders should be promoting it to every patron, right? Actually, bartenders dislike vague drink orders as much as those that are time-consuming. As one bartender said, “Don’t come up to me asking for a “gin and juice.” Yes, we all know the song. I still need to know what kind of juice. Pineapple juice? Cranberry juice? Orange juice? And what kind of gin? I’m trying to make nine other drinks right now, and I need you to know what you’re actually ordering.”
Alternative: try this one, but give your bartender a specific request for gin and juice options.
Bars are aware that the most premium, albeit time-consuming, cocktails can offer the best profit margins, but often face losing sales due to the time factor of creating these beautiful concoctions. Bartenders often fall back on easier blends to keep patrons happy without sacrificing quality or turnaround time. What if there was a new way to drink? In a perfect world, patrons could order anything under the moon without feeling guilty for inundating a bartender. Folks, it’s here.
Gloworder is a new app that transforms bar orders to focus on simplicity. The solution is really two-fold. On one end, patrons can order the exact cocktail they want using an easy-to-use smartphone app. It would allow them to order from anywhere while providing ample time for the bartender to receive and begin the creation of premium cocktails and other beverages. What’s more, is the app allows for easy check out with little to no interaction. Browse through various menus directly in the app, order ahead, and easily notify the bartender where you are when you arrive. Learn more about our upcoming launch by entering your email on the waitlist here.