“Happiness is…finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry.”
You’re on a first date and it’s going amazing. The car ride over went off without a hitch — small talk, laughter, the works. You got this. This is it. Love, marriage… till death do us part. By the time you make it into the restaurant, your flying high. The host seats you at your table and you look at the menu.
There’s no drink menu.
The waiter comes by. He asks, “Can I get any drinks started for you?”
“Where’s the drink menu?”
“Oh,” he replies, “we have a full bar – and I promise we’ll do anything better than you’ve ever had it.”
You freeze. The only drinks you know how to order have names that aren’t even appropriate to say on a first date, let alone order.
Drinking on a first date has mixed reviews by the different “gurus” out there. Personally, I think it’s fine — If, that is, you know what you’re doing, and if it’s a dinner or happy hour date. So, here are 5 drinks that will make you look more like a classy adult than a frat star (sorry, guys, no Keystone Light). Try them somewhere prior to your date (but, not the same day), so you know what you like and what you don’t.
Also, general rule of thumb is to keep it to 2 or less. Starting your relationship off hammered really doesn’t set the best precedent…
1. Dry Martini
A classic. James Bond and his beautiful date sipping martinis. Nothing says class like a dry martini. 007 got it wrong, though. A martini is made with GIN, not vodka. Specify this, because even restaurants can get it wrong. A classic dry martini be made with gin, a dash of dry vermouth, and garnished with either olives (green) or the zest of a lemon (sometimes a lime). Two ingredients – yet made the right way, these can slip down very easily after a long week.
The waiter may ask for your gin preference, so be prepared. My personal favorites are Plymouth, Hendricks, or (if you’re ballin’ on a budget) original Bombay Dry.
Don Draper’s favorite drink. Mad Men gave this classic a resurgence in popularity in the past decade, but let me tell ya… it’s a classic for a reason. It’s much sweeter than a martini. So, if you prefer drinks on the sweeter side, this may be for you. It’s made with whiskey (typically rye or bourbon), a sugar cube, and bitters. Then, it’s garnished with an orange twist and cocktail cherry. Many restaurants will mess up this cocktail by adding soda water, which drives me crazy. Also, many restaurants will put their own spin on it, which is a bit of a high-risk, high reward. But, if you’re at a craft cocktail bar with a bartender who really knows what he’s doing… this is your drink.
I explain this drink as the whiskey lover’s martini. A manhattan is made with whiskey (bourbon or rye) instead of gin, sweet vermouth instead of dry, and includes a dash of Angostura bitters. It’s garnished with a cherry. Um, yes please.
Like the martini, they may ask for your whiskey preference. For Bourbon, I prefer Buffalo Trace or Woodford Reserve. For Rye, I prefer Bulleit Rye or Knob Creek Rye.
Few things pair with a truly great meal better than truly great wine. Do your research, and know the differences in white wines and red wines. A Merlot is going to taste a lot different than a Pino Noir. A chardonnay will be typically be different from other chardonnays depending on the region. When in doubt, if you’re at a nice restaurant and are ok with splurging a bit, ask the sommelier (staff drink expert), what their recommendation is to pair with your meal.
5. The Signature Cocktail of the Restaurant
Many restaurants will have a signature cocktail. At a Mexican restaurant? Get a margarita! (Seriously, who doesn’t like a margarita?) Italian restaurant? Try one of my favorites, a Negroni (if you’re ok with bitter drinks). You can’t go wrong with the signature cocktail. Well, you can if it sucks… but you won’t mess up your first date by ordering it.
*Bonus* 6. Water or Iced Tea
Don’t drink? Or, are you trying to save money? Order water or iced tea. Can’t go wrong with either. I’d recommend staying away from soda. You’re wasting $3 on drinking syrup.