Common Mistakes You’re Making When Ordering Drinks at a Bar

What will I learn from the English lesson ordering drinks in a bar?

During this lesson you will learn to go to an English bar and ordering drinks. The last part of the lesson is about paying using with a credit card and learning what an open card is.

When you are inside a bar, you can walk up to the bar (counter) and order your drinks. Some bars will have a waiter / waitress who come to your table.

Ordering your drink by name and quantity

Can I have 5 bottles of Stella please.I’ll take a single shot of whiskey please.Give me 3 shots of vodka please.I’ll have one beer and  glass of Coke please.

After ordering the bartender will tell you how much to you have to pay

That will be £17.30 please.

That comes to  £7.10 please.

If you pay with cash, then most times you will receive change. It is up to you if you want to tip it is considered to be polite. If you pay using a visa card, they they might ask if you want to leave it open.

Can I pay using my visa card please?

What does leaving it open mean?

Leaving it open means that you keep your credit card open this is because if you want to order more drinks, you will get one bill instead having to keep using your credit card several times. 

Do you want us to keep your card open?

Asking them to keep it open

Can you keep my card open?

When you have kept your credit card open, the more drinks that you order will go straight onto your credit card. When you finished you can just ask them to for your bill.

Hello, can I get my bill please?

When the bartender has your credit card, all you have to do is go up to the counter and say:

I want to close and pay my tab please.

Lessons that are related to this one 

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Ordering drinks Learning English

Video

Beer

Who doesn’t like a nice cold ale or lager? Unless you are talking about craft beer(1), it’s pretty straightforward and arguably the easiest alcohol to order at the bar. 

A glass

If you are just ordering one beer for yourself, you can just order a glass. While ordering, it isn’t even important to specify the word “glass” in most cases. 

Ex. May I have a glass of Guinness, please? 

Ex. May I have a Guinness, please? 

The bartender(2) will certainly understand what you mean if you just say the name of the beer. However, if you want to eliminate any chance of confusion, just use the word glass. 

A pint

A pint(3) glass holds 473 ml. Bars commonly serve pints, and they became popular in the United Kingdom in the early/mid-20th century. 

Ex. May I have one pint of Carlsberg, please? 

Ex. May I get a pint of Budweiser, please?  

A pitcher

Let’s say you have a few friends, and you all want to drink together. You could buy separate glasses or pints, but to save money, you could order a pitcher(4) of beer and share it. 

Pitchers vary in size: They are commonly between 946 ml and 1893 ml. When ordering a pitcher, you will also get smaller glasses on the side, that way you can share the pitcher with friends. 

Ex. May I get a pitcher of PBR with three glasses please? 

Ex. Can we get a pitcher of Boddington with four glasses? 

Beer Flight

Not every bar will have beer flights(5). They are more common in craft beer shops where there are many different styles of beer to try. 

A flight is anywhere from four to eight small glasses of beer (three-five ounces each). You order a beer flight to sample different beers and see what you like. 

Ex. I would like a flight with your IPA, your raspberry sour, your porter, and your smoked lager. 

HowToOrder Drinks At A Bar

Choose Your Drink 

When deciding what drink to order, make sure you do not stand directly at the bar. This will allow those who know what they want to place their order and prevents overcrowding. If you don’t know what you want, would like a recommendation, or have a question for the bartender then wait until he or she is not busy.  

When placing your drink order be prepared to answer questions as to how you would like it made and always have a plan B drink in case the bar doesn’t have what you asked for. 

Paying For Your Drinks 

There are several ways to pay for your drinks but regardless of how you choose, make sure you are ready when the time comes. If paying by credit or debit card, you can open a bar tab. The bartender will add your drinks to the bar tab and charge your card at the end of the night. Or, you can pay each time you place an order. There is also the option to pay with cash.  

Tipping 

Tipping is always important but even more so if you plan to become a regular. If paying with cash, tell the bartender to either keep the change or how much of the change to keep. This will save the bartender time from running back and forth with your change.  

If paying by credit or debit car, you can write the tip in.  

It is customary to leave a tip of 10-20% of the bill total. 

Martinis 

Martinis are alcoholic drinks made with either vodka or gin. There are many different kinds of martinis, but many martinis also contain another kind of alcohol called vermouth(9). 

Depending on the type of martini you order, there could be fruit, lemon twists, or even olives inside. A dirty martini is a blend(10) of alcohol and olive juice. The dirtier the martini, the more olive juice is used. 

Dry martini

 A dry martini means adding less vermouth. This will make the martini more bitter. 

Wet martini

A wet martini means adding more vermouth, which will make the drink taste smoother. 

I am no expert on martinis, but since they vary so much, you will likely have to keep experimenting to find out what matches your taste. 

Types of Drinks

If you really want to get the party going, you can start by doing a few shots of tequila. A large shot is also called a double shot. Tilt your head back and gulp it all down. As they say,

Bottoms up!

Some beer drinkers like bottles, others like draft beer (beer from the tap), and some don’t mind drinking out of cans. Large groups of friends will want to order pitchers. It’s cheaper than buying it by the glass.

The bartender will ask if you want to open a tab. This means that you can continue ordering drinks without paying each time. When you finish your drinks, tell the bartender to close out the tab. This means you are ready to go pay. Hopefully, a friend will offer to pick up the tab, which means your friend will pay for all the drinks. Cheers to that!

HowToOrder Whiskey

Whiskey is a broad term that includes rye whiskies, American whiskies, American bourbon, Scotch whiskies and so on. The bottles will range in price and quality. If a whiskey is not specified the bartender will typically use a mid-range label. Be prepared to specify how you would like your whiskey (e.g. on the rocks, neat). 

While ordering drinks at a bar can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. By researching beforehand, learning key terminology and asking questions you will be on your way to becoming an expert.   

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