How to Order a Drink at the Bar

Posted by: Tara Benwell
Know what you want to drink before you walk in

You will get quicker, friendlier service at a bar if you know how to ask for your favourite drink in English.

Questions the bartender/server will ask you:

What can I get for you?
And for yourself? (Your friend has ordered. Now it’s your turn.)
Would you like the house wine?
Do you want a pint or a glass? (a pint=20 oz, a glass [sometimes called a “sleeve“]=12 oz)
Do you want that on tap?
Do you want a double? (2 oz of liquor instead of 1)
On the rocks? (over ice)
Straight up? (no ice and no mix)
Would you like a glass? (with your bottle of beer)
Would you like another?
Do you want to start a tab? (The bartender will keep track of your drinks. You pay at the end.)
We only do cash and carry. (You have to pay for each drink separately.)
Do you have a designated driver?

Questions you can ask the bartender/server:
What do you have on tap/on draft?
Do you have anything light on tap? (a light beer)
Do you have anything dark on draft?
Do you have any pale ales?
Do you have anything local?
Do you carry any import beers?
Do you have any drink specials?
May I start/run a tab?
How much is a …?
May I also have a glass of water? (Try to ask at the same time as you order your drink.)
Can you call me a taxi, please?

Ordering your drink:
Bartenders are busy people. Don’t take too long to place your order. Ask to see a drink list if you aren’t sure.

I’ll have a pint of …
We’d like a pitcher/jug of beer. (to share between 2 or more)
I’ll have a bottle of ________ (beer name or beer type)
I’ll have a glass of red wine. The house wine is fine. (the wine that the bar uses most often)
I’ll have a glass of white.
We’d like a half litre of import white.
We’d like a litre of house red.
We’d like a bottle of … (specific wine from list). We’ll need three glasses please.
Can I have another…? (name the drink you already had)
We’d like another round please. (Each person at your table would like a second drink of the same kind.)
We’d like a round of shooters please.
I’ll have a …. this time. (change your second drink to a different type or size such as a bottle instead of a pint)

5 Common Types of Beer:
Light beer (slightly less alcohol)
Pale Ale (light brown in colour)
Stout (dark beer)
Non-alcoholic beer (also called “near beer” 0% alcohol)

You can also ask for one of these types of beer:

Domestic (made in the country you are in)
Local (made in the region you are in)
Imported (from another country)

5 Common Cocktails:
Strawberry Daiquiri (rum and frozen strawberry mix-pronounced “da-cker-ee”)
Margarita (tequila and frozen lime mix)
Tequila Sunrise (tequila and orange juice and grenadine)
Cooler (pre-mixed alcoholic fruit drink that comes in a bottle, such as an apple cider)
Blood Caesar/Mary (Clamato or tomato juice and vodka)

5 Common Mixed Drinks:
Rum and Coke
Gin and tonic
Rye and ginger (gingerale)
Vodka and orange juice
Coffee drink (your choice of liqueur with coffee and whipped cream)

5 Common Shots: (1 oz that you drink quickly from a shot glass. Often as part of a celebration such as a birthday or farewell)
Shooter (Various types of shots with a mix of juice or liquer. Ask the bartender to recommend one.)

Leaving the Bartender a Tip:
You don’t need to say anything when you leave a tip to a bartender. You can just leave the money on the bar or table. Sometimes there is a cup marked “Tips” to put money in. If the bartender comes back with your change,, you can say: “That’s okay/fine” or “That’s for you.” You can also wave your hand and say “Thank you.” He will understand the change is his tip. If you don’t need change when you offer the payment, you can say: “That’s fine, thank you.” A tip is usually about 15-20% of the price of the drink or bill.

If you don’t know what to order and you aren’t picky, use this phrase: “Surprise me.” The bartender will pick your beverage for you. To help him out you can say, “I’d prefer something light”, or “I’d like something fruity”.

Practice: Ordering at a Bar

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | November 2009
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.


Leave a comment