• 06/06/2024

24 Drinks to Order at a Bar: Cocktails and Shots

A bar with two stools in front.

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Have you ever sat down at a bar and looked around for a cocktail menu only to find there wasn’t one? If you want to avoid having to awkwardly ask the bartender for recommendations, then you need to know which drinks to order at a bar. Here are 24 drinks every bartender should know.

17 Cocktails to Order at a Bar

Cocktails can be sweet, sour, bitter or creamy — and each classic has countless variations. Narrowing down your go-to selection can save you from furiously searching the internet for ideas the next time you’re at a bar.

1. Long Island Iced Tea

Blend white rum, gin, tequila and orange liqueur to get a Long Island iced tea. Although it’s a blend of alcohol, you probably won’t taste any — that’s what makes it one of the best drinks to order at a bar. 

2. Daiquiri

A daiquiri is sweet and citrusy. This blend of rum, lime juice and simple syrup is a fun, refreshing departure from most classic drinks’ typical flavor profile. 

3. Rum and Coke

A rum and Coke is one of the best drinks to order at a bar because it’s straightforward. The Coke’s flavor is strong enough to eliminate most of the “alcohol” taste. Be warned, though, drink too many and the carbonation might make you queasy. 

4. Martini

You’ve probably heard of a martini before. It’s sweet, but not as sweet as you’d think. It is a blend of vodka and vermouth, giving it an herbal, medicinal flavor. Although it may not be your favorite if you’re new to drinking, it’s fun to try. 

5. Vodka Cranberry

A vodka cranberry tops the list of drinks every bartender should know because it’s just a mix of cranberry juice and vodka. If you like cranberries, you’ll love this simple, fruity cocktail. 

6. Mimosa

A mimosa is sweet and fruity, thanks to its champagne and orange juice blend. While you’d typically order it at brunch the morning after drinking, your bartender won’t judge you for ordering it during your night out.

A bartender straining a drink.

7. Aperol Spritz

An Aperol spritz is an infamous drink known for its sweet and bitter flavor profile. Depending on the bar, the bartender may adjust the levels of Aperol and Prosecco to change its taste. 

8. Manhattan

For a bitter, floral and slightly medicinal taste — due to the combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth and aromatic bitters — order a Manhattan. While its complex flavor profile may not make it the go-to choice for new drinkers, it’s a fun experience. 

9. Moscow Mule

A Moscow mule is one of the best drinks to order at a bar because it’s well-known and tasty. It typically contains vodka, ginger beer and muddled mint, but you’ll often find fun variations that use different fruits or liqueurs. It’s citrusy, bubbly and refreshing. 

10. Tequila Sunrise

A tequila sunrise layers grenadine, tequila and orange juice to achieve a beautiful ombre look. This fruity concoction is a go-to for many people because it’s simple and sweet. If you don’t want to be able to taste liqueur, it’s a solid choice. 

11. Rum Punch

Rum punch is a sweet, tropical drink containing light rum, dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice and grenadine. The fruit juices mask the dreaded “alcohol” flavor while also making it taste sugary. 

12. Melon Ball

A melon ball mixes melon liqueur, vodka and fruit juice. This drink usually comes with a honeydew ball garnish unless you’re at a dive bar. It’s one of the best drinks to order at a bar if you dislike the taste of alcohol. 

13. Whiskey Sour

A whiskey sour is tart but not bitter. It’s typically a whiskey and lemon juice blend, but some bartenders use sour mix or other juices instead. Since it’s one of the most classic drinks to order at a bar, many have their own twist.

14. Mudslide  

A mudslide blends vodka, coffee liqueur and Irish cream liqueur. This creamy sweetness isn’t for everyone — it can be off-putting combined with that infamous “alcohol” taste — but it’s a fun drink to try. 

15. Negroni

You might’ve heard of a negroni before. This classic mixes gin, vermouth and an Italian red bitter liqueur. You’ll love it if you enjoy bitter herbal and floral flavors. Depending on the bartender, it may have notes of fruit or citrus.

A bartender pouring a drink.

16. Mojito 

A mojito blends white rum, lime juice, club soda and muddled mint. It’s sweet and refreshing, making it one of the best drinks to order at a bar after a long night of drinking. 

17. Screwdriver

If you feel uncomfortable ordering a mimosa — the classic brunch drink — at night, consider asking for a screwdriver instead. It uses vodka instead of champagne but has the same orangey taste. 

7 Shots to Order at a Bar

Few people like to take shots of straight liquor. Unless you’re like them, consider ordering one of these flavorful shots at the bar. 

1. Jolly Rancher Shot

Have you ever heard of a Jolly Rancher shot? It mixes vodka and flavored Schnapps — like watermelon, grape or green apple — to make a drink that tastes surprisingly similar to the infamous hard candy. 

2. Lemon Drop Shot

A lemon drop shot is one of the best drinks to order at a bar because it’s simple and tasty. The combination of vodka, simple syrup and lemon juice balances tartness with sweetness. 

3. Birthday Cake Shot

If you’re out celebrating your birthday, a birthday cake shot is one of the best drinks to order at a bar. This mix of cake vodka and white chocolate liqueur tastes surprisingly like a classic birthday cake. 

4. Washington Apple Shot

A Washington apple shot is kind of like a vodka cranberry but more tart. It mixes Canadian whiskey, sour apple Schnapps, pomegranate juice and cranberry juice for a fruity flavor profile.

5. Buttery Nipple

Ordering a buttery nipple feels awkward, but the bartender won’t bat an eye since it’s one of those drinks every bartender should know. They pour Irish cream liqueur over butterscotch Schnapps to make a tasty two-tiered shot.

6. Green Tea Shot

A green tea drink is a common choice for newer drinkers because it’s one of the tastiest drinks to order at a bar. Surprisingly, it doesn’t contain a drop of green tea. Still, somehow, the blend of whiskey, peach Schnapps, sour mix and lemon-lime soda makes it taste like it does. 

7. Sex on the Beach Shot

The Sex on the Beach shot contains vodka, orange juice, cranberry juice and peach Schnapps. It’s a good, fruity go-to if you want a miniature version of rum punch or tequila sunrise. 

Order These Drinks at the Bar the Next Time You’re Out

Be thankful you now know the answer to the question, “What are good drinks to order at a bar when you don’t know what to drink?” Now, you don’t have to worry about what to get the next time you sit down at a bar that doesn’t have a cocktail menu.

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