Food & Drink

6 tips for in-the-know drinking

You don’t need fancy copper mugs to make a great Moscow Mule.
You don’t need fancy copper mugs to make a great Moscow Mule. Observer file photo

The joy of writing about drinking is not just drinking, but also watching what, and how, other people drink. (You guys really like vodka tonics. And when did Long Island Iced Teas become a thing again?)

But sometimes, I wish I had the chutzpah to lean over to say, “Add two dashes of bitters to your cocktail. It will taste 10 times better.” Or yell: “For the love of God, don’t order two more glasses of wine. Just buy a bottle.”

Here are a list of the thing I think every patron should know to drink better and smarter.

Drink Like You’re In Europe

Order wine by the bottle, not by the glass, if you’re drinking with friends. It’s a much better deal. Besides, you don’t know how long those open bottles have been sitting on the shelf.

Order A Cocktail With Fresh Pineapple Juice

Once you realize how good a tropical drink tastes with fresh pineapple juice, you’ll never want the canned version again. Thanks to the Tiki trend, many craft cocktail bars now use the good stuff. If they do, order it.

Drink Like You’re In Tokyo

Japan may be the epicenter of mixology, but what do the locals there drink? Japanese whiskey highballs. I’m a convert. Take about 1 1/2 ounces of Japanese whiskey and top the glass with sparkling water and ice for a light, bubbly drink. They even sell whiskey soda in a can in Japan.

Order Your Mojito With Bitters

Everyone loves mojitos. You’ll love it more if you order it with two dashes of Angostura bitters. It adds a layer of complexity and rounds out the rum and the sugar nicely. This rule is also true with martinis (two dashes of orange bitters) and Manhattans (two dashes of either).

Don’t Order Off-Menu

In the cocktail climate of late, it became trendy to saddle up to the bar and tell the mixologist “dealer’s choice,” to have him or her make something off the menu. You look cool while other patrons stare at what the bartender has under the old arm garter. I say order from the menu. It’s how I judge a craft cocktail bar on a first visit. The menus are much better thought out now, with interesting original and seasonal drinks. Even if the star bartender doesn’t work every night, his or her imprint is on the cocktail menu.

Make A Moscow Mule At Home

The vodka drink-of-the-moment, a Moscow Mule, runs from $10 to $12 at many bars, even though it only costs about $1.25 to make. Save your money and make it at home. It’s easy. And don’t believe the marketing hype. Your Mule will taste just fine without a fancy copper mug. Here’s what you do: Buy the cheapest vodka. It won’t matter. But don’t skimp on the ginger beer. I prefer Barritt’s, Fever Tree or Goslings.

Moscow Mule

2 ounces vodka

1 ounce fresh lime juice

4 ounces ginger beer

Ice cubes

Pour vodka and squeeze lime juice into a tall glass with three ice cubes. Throw the spent limes into the glass. Add ginger beer. Stir and drink. And then bang your head on the kitchen counter for paying $12 for this drink.

Yield: 1 serving.