- But like in any other situation, there's a right and wrong way to handle getting a drink you don't enjoy.
- I'm a bartender, and you should follow these tips next time to make the best out of a bad situation.
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As a bartender, I've had countless times when a patron told me they didn't like the drink I made them.
Admittedly, it always stings a little to hear this.
But like in any other situation, there's a right way and a wrong way for you to handle your dissatisfaction.
It's when I find out after the fact when the problem is too late to fix that this phenomenon goes from mildly perturbing to becoming a top pet peeve. More irksome than all those annoying drink orders I judge you for.
Why? Because you've failed to take advantage of the single aspect I most love about bartending: If you dislike the drinks I made for you, I can just as easily make it disappear and create a different, better one for you.
But maybe you don't know what to say, or how to say it. After all, no one wants to be that guy.
Fear not: Here's exactly what you should and shouldn't do if your drink doesn't spark joy.
Do use your words
It goes without saying that if you want your cocktail to be better, dissatisfaction with your drink can't, well, go without saying.
Speak up. And more importantly, give us the explicit reason you don't like what is in the glass in front of you.
I've even been able to help a few drinkers who I intuited felt ambivalent toward their drink by simply adding an ice cube, or a splash of soda for overly bold cocktails.
Don't just say, "This is horrible"
That statement is your opinion. Not fact. And definitely not helpful.
Don't claim we hoodwinked you
When you make declarations like "I asked for a ___ and you made a ___," you might technically be "right." You are the customer, after all.
But most likely, we were both right: There are countless variations and differences in even the "classic" cocktails, and we probably simply didn't realize you expected something different, like gin rather than cognac in your French 75 , or an Old Fashioned with muddled cherries and soda, rather than orange peel and lemon.
This is fine. We get it, and can fix it.
Don't down more than half the drink before you try to send it back
Look, maybe you were thirsty. However, when you drink more than half of your offending drink before speaking up, you give the impression that you liked the drink fine you're just looking to score a freebie from a manager afraid of a bad Yelp review.
Do be honest about what you really want
When I'm trying to fix a sent-back drink, what also drives me nuts is when someone won't just admit what they really want because they think I'll judge the drink for being too "basic." (Side note: I don't judge these, and personally will drink a vodka soda with a splash of cranberry any day of the week.)
Sometimes I might nudge someone to be adventurous. Go ahead, try that smoky mezcal drink on the menu! And then, oops, they hate it.
I would always rather a guest try and be adventurous in their choice, even if that choice makes them realize they wanted that "basic" vodka drink they usually opt for.
Four of five times in that scenario, I end up helping someone discover a new drink or flavor that they like. And that's worth the one in five for whom I'm happy to do the do-over.
Do listen to the disclaimers we give about certain cocktails
If, on the other hand, I tell you that Mezcal drink is going to be super smoky, and you send it back because it "tastes like a bonfire," my sympathy meter will be running low.
When you're fairly warned of what to expect and still order an adventurous cocktail before deciding you don't like it, suck it up. Seriously. That's on you.
Extra credit: Don't request another cocktail if it's super busy
Shutterstock/Hunter Bliss Images
Having said all that, I'll add one extra request as a courtesy: Please get beer or wine for your do-over if I'm slammed.
It's considerate to the other people who are still waiting to get an order in, since I will want to prioritize problem-solving your drink before I get to theirs.
There's no shortage of ways to get a better outcome for a bad drink when you speak up to the bartender in a manner that doesn't hurt our feelings or cause our blood pressure to spike.
Because whether it's via a scathing online review or a mean note scribbled on the receipt, or worst of all, when it's made clear in the form of a bad tip, we never want to find out too late when the check is already closed and the glass is empty that you hated every sip.
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