If you’re old enough to order a drink at a bar, then you’re old enough to know the importance of first impressions. First dates are a perfect opportunity to show off that hard-won knowledge. Beyond the obvious dating don’ts (being late, talking about your job) and general bar-going don’ts, there’s also a list of dos when it comes time to order.
These seven drinks are solid first-date orders. The list leans heavily on classics and favors straightforward drinks the bartender doesn’t have to fuss over. There are even a couple options for when that first date happens in a bar that doesn’t really do cocktails. If you like them, maybe let’s, um, go out again sometime?
Ah, the Manhattan. A masterpiece of the pre-Prohibition era, this drink is a perfect order on a first date. It’s an understated mark of good taste without the requisite eye-roll that accompanies a Martini order. It has the additional virtue of practicality: easy and quick to make (two ingredients, plus bitters).
If the person you’re stepping out with can’t appreciate a cold tall can and a shot, you should maybe close out your tab right away. Yeah, yeah: This isn’t a “cocktail.” That’s the point. It’s a fun, unserious drink order and that’s exactly what a first date should be. Of course, if more than one round of shots gets ordered, you’ve just crossed over from fun first-date territory into the messy hookup zone.
Thanks to Mad Men, the Old Fashioned has either come back in style or become a trendy annoyance. The first camp is the right answer. A proper Old Fashioned is a thing of beauty, so order it somewhere you know makes it right: big ice cubes, no soda water, not too sweet and definitely no copious amounts of muddled fruit.
If your date orders one of these and knows exactly which whiskey they want, you should start planning for your future together—now.
The Negroni has had a huge resurgence in recent years. Maybe that’s because it’s an elegant, beautiful drink that’s easy to make and the perfect start to a long night. Gary Regan said it best: "Want to impress your date? Order a Negroni. Want to impress your boss? Order a Negroni. Want to impress the bartender? Order a Negroni." So, yeah, order a Negroni.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
Be warned, there are some stipulations to ordering this cocktail on a first date:
1. Only in a bona fide cocktail bar. (Whipping out your phone to find the recipe for a bartender trying to rush out 10 Whiskey Gingers isn’t cool. It’s desperate.)
2. Only if you have time on your hands. (Gulping down this New Orleans classic makes about as much sense as rushing through The Big Easy itself.)
3. You have to know how pronounce it (“voe-car-ehhh”)
Now that that’s out of the way, you should definitely, absolutely order this complex classic next time you’re meeting a stranger in a bar with well-oiled dark wood, leather-clad booths and low lighting.
It’s a classic for a reason: light, refreshing and (nearly) impossible to mess up. It’s also a great budget drink, because as great as artisanal tonic and top shelf gin are together, a simple shot from the soda gun and two ounces of well gin work plenty fine. The secret reason, though, is that the G&T will always be the perfect order when the bar is packed. You don’t want a complicated drink request derailing your conversation.
Ordering this tells your date that you have a good record collection and are confident enough to stray beyond the obvious classics. There’s a sugar rim and Cointreau for your sweet tooth, and a cognac backbone that keeps the whole drink walking tall. Definitely nothing to sneeze at.