10 drinks you should never order in a crowded bar, according to bartenders

bartender pouring a simple cocktail into a short glass on a bar
Mixing complex cocktails during a big rush at a bar can be stressful. siamionau pavel/Shutterstock
  • Business Insider asked bartenders which drinks customers should never order in a crowded bar.

  • Stay away from mojitos and Bloody Marys if you're shoulder to shoulder at the bar.

  • The experts also said to avoid drinks with lots of garnishes and mix-ins.

Whether you're stopping in for a happy hour or going out with friends, it's nice to have a go-to bar order.

Since inflation has sent alcohol prices soaring, picking the wrong drink is a costly mistake. And if you're in a crowded bar, you might get eye rolls or long wait times if you order certain things.

Business Insider spoke with bartenders and mixologists to find out what they'd never order in a crowded bar.

Steer clear of Long Island iced teas.

long island ice tea cocktail on a bar
Long Island ice teas typically have a few different kinds of alcohol in them. gresei/Shutterstock

Don't ask the bartender for a Long Island iced tea just because you can't rid yourself of the nostalgia from your college days.

According to Jamie Robinson, former bartender and current assistant food and beverage manager at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, called the drink "a big no-no, especially at a busy bar."

She explained that it requires too many ingredients — including multiple kinds of alcohol that she would never personally mix.

"You're likely only going to order one or two unless you plan on ending up on the floor at some point during the evening," Robinson told BI.

Save the mojitos for a slower day.

three people cheersing mojitos outside on a nice day
Proper mojitos take a little armwork from bartenders. Lomb/Shutterstock

There's usually nothing wrong with ordering a mojito at a bar. But you might want to think twice if the place is packed because they can take a while to make.

"A proper mojito should feature hand-muddled limes and mint, plus whatever flavor you might be adding to it," Robinson told BI. "They are a labor of love, to say the least."

Don’t order a White Russian.

white russain cocktail sitting on a bar
Bartenders don't always have cream on hand. gresei/Shutterstock

If there's a sea of people waiting to order at the bar, it's considerate to order things the bartender likely has on standby. Unfortunately, the heavy cream required for a White Russian isn't usually handy.

"Save your bartender the time of having to go check to see if they have some in the back, and save your stomach from mixing dairy with whatever else you might be inclined to drink that night," Robinson said.

Ditch the spicy margarita in a crowd.

two spicy margaritas with the ingredients around them
Spicy margs are specialty cocktails, so they take time and attention to make. Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

According to Zulay Duran, executive bartender at Taste My Aruba, spicy margaritas are very involved.

"This is a specialized drink that takes careful execution, which isn't feasible for most bartenders on a busy night," she told BI. "Opt for a proper glass of wine instead, if you can."

Bloody Marys are for brunch.

two garnished bloody mary cocktails on an outdoor table
Don't order drinks with tons of garnishes on a night out. N K/Shutterstock

Vodka and tomato juice is a fan-favorite combination. But according to Aliz Meszasi, bar manager at The Fed at The Langham in Boston, Bloody Marys aren't a night-out drink.

The expert said unless it's brunch time, finding all the ingredients and garnishes is usually like a doomed scavenger hunt for bartenders.

If a drink calls for egg whites, don’t order it.

amaretto sour cocktail with a dried orange slice on a cocktail napkin
Amaretto sours typically include egg whites. Vic Munhoz/Shutterstock

Some cocktails, like gin fizzes and amaretto sours, call for egg whites to produce a nice foam. But that can be a pain on a crowded Friday night.

"The Ramos gin fizz is very labor intensive," said Nick Jackson, head bartender at The Rum House. "It requires shaking for several minutes and is very difficult at a crowded bar."

Skip the piña colada.

two people cheersing pina coladas in plastic cups on a beach on a nice day
Piña coladas are better on the beach. Brookie Cookie/Shutterstock

Unless you're at the beach, bartenders probably don't want you ordering a piña colada.

"Please don't make the bartender fire up a blender in the middle of a crazy service," said Zach Pace, chief operating officer and beverage expert at Ten Rooms.

Get your caffeine fix at a coffee shop, not a crowded bar.

hand garnishing an espresso martini on a bar
Espresso martinis are good for nice dinners or chill cocktail bars. Denis Bukhlaev/Shutterstock

Meszasi said to avoid ordering an Irish coffee at the bar. The layered beverage with lightly whipped cream and hot coffee can be time-consuming when you're one of 10 people in line.

The same thing goes for espresso martinis, according to Vinny Spatafore, bartender and beverage operations manager at Blue Bridge Hospitality.

"The strong, lingering espresso smell means bartenders have to wash the shaker extra carefully, which can be time-consuming," he told BI.

Layered shots are tedious, especially for an entire group of friends.

three layer shots on a bar
Stick to vodka or tequila for shots. Cristi Lucaci/Shutterstock

Sunshine Foss, founder and CEO of boutique liquor store Happy Cork, told BI that people should stick to simple vodka shots on busy evenings.

Layered shots that require multiple liqueurs or spirits can be a hassle to prepare properly.

"Bartenders are already under pressure to serve drinks quickly, ordering layered shots just doesn't make sense for anyone," she told BI.

Please don’t ask a bartender to whip up your own creation on a bustling Friday night.

ice falling into a glass with a cocktail
Pick something on the menu or a simple mixed drink. siamionau pavel/Shutterstock

No one is saying that what you like is bad, but rattling off your own involved cocktail recipe in a packed bar is annoying.

"Be specific but not a poet," Joshua Lucas, mixologist at Kiki's in La Quinta, California, told BI.

For example, he said he never wants to hear, "I'll have a Belvedere vodka martini extra shaken with two cucumbers, no vermouth, a lemon twist expressed and discarded, and save the shaken ice on the side."

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