Everyone around you is drinking bourbon. This all-American liquor has become an incredibly popular drink, with production levels that have risen 53 percent over the past couple of years in bourbon’s home of Kentucky. So you’re ready to try some when you’re out at a bar, but you don’t know how to order bourbon without looking like a novice. It’s not a problem because we’ve put together this guide to help you order with ease. Stick with us, and we’ll have the perfect bourbon drink in your hand in no time.

How to Order Bourbon: Order By Name

The sure way to look like a novice is to simply ask the bartender for a bourbon. If you do this, people will assume you don’t know your bourbon, and the bartender will choose a ‘well’ brand to serve you, which will be a less expensive, lower quality choice. Instead, pick a brand to ask for when you order. Just be aware that you’ll pay more when you specify a shelf brand rather than receiving the well choice, but it’s well worth it!

In most bars, you won’t be able to order any type of bourbon you could imagine, so your brand choices will be limited. Generally, you can find Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Maker’s Mark brands in a bar. Nonetheless, these brands make specialty bourbons, and there are many additional brands in existence, so you might be able to choose a different kind depending on what each bar offers. At first, pick one of the basics to order; then you can branch out over time and see which type you like best.

Not Sure If You’ll Like It?

It’s intimidating to dive right in to a type of liquor you’ve never tasted. If you’re worried you’ll get the urge to spray a mouthful on all of your friends, try a tip President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Eric Gregory, shared with Today.com. He says to ask the bartender for a recommendation on a low-proof bourbon from a small batch, if your particular bar carries it. After that, you can ease into higher proofs and different brands to find your preference.

How Do You Want It?

Once you’ve decided on a type of bourbon, figure out how you want it served. Ask for it “neat” if you want to sip the straight bourbon with nothing added to it. Order it “on the rocks” if you would prefer it over ice. Say the name of the bourbon first, and then this distinction. For example, say, “I’d like a Jim Beam, neat” instead of, “I’d like a neat Jim Beam.” You’ll probably get laughed at if you say it the second way, and we’re trying to help you not look like an amateur here.

Mix It Up

If you’re not a fan of straight liquor or you find yourself in the mood to shake things up, order your bourbon mixed with something. You could order a [brand name] and soda, which will have club soda, or one with Coke or ginger ale. Another option is to choose a bourbon cocktail. Try an Old Fashioned, which includes bourbon mixed with sugar, bitters and water. A Derby mixes bourbon with Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth and lime juice. Or go for a Mint Julep, the drink of the Kentucky Derby, which contains bourbon, fresh mint, sugar and water. These are just a few bourbon cocktail choices for ordering at the bar. When ordering, first specify the brand, and then say the cocktail. So, you would say, “I’d like a Jim Beam Old Fashioned.”

We hope this How to Order Bourbon guide helps you order like a pro. You’ll be one in no time! Remember to give different brands and types of this American whiskey a try so you can find the one you like the best. Then, find the way you prefer to drink it, whether it’s neat, on the rocks or part of a cocktail. It might take you a while to find your signature bourbon drink, but we bet you’ll enjoy the process! Once you’ve ordered bourbon in your local bar, tell us about your experience in the comments. What did you order and did you enjoy your drink?

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About The Author

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Passive Eater

I am quiet when I eat and loud when I write. On the streets and in the field calling it like I see it