2010 Best Bars

Bar Basics

Rules of engagement for pubs, clubs and lounges

By Ali Moran November 17, 2010 Published in the December 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

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How to tip
The rules are simple, according to the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute: Tip a dollar per drink if the drink is relatively cheap and easy to pour (beer or wine) and generally a $1.50 for wells. If the drink is more complicated—like a sazerac or an aviation—up the ante to at least $2.

How to keep your coaster on the table
We appreciate coasters and cocktail napkins as much as the next tippler, but not when they’re falling from our glasses mid-sip. Avoid these drinking dingleberries by pouring a little salt on top of your coaster or napkin, and voilà, your drink will stay clinger-free.

How to talk the talk
You may have mastered “neat” and “rocks,” but if you really want to show off, drop these terms into your next conversation:

  • Angostura bitters n. a concentrated mix of herbs and alcohol invented in 1824 as a tonic for touchy stomachs and today used to flavor cocktails. Other brands exist—Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers—but Angostura is the most common.
  • float v. to pour a small amount of liquid over the back of a spoon to decoratively top off a cocktail, à la the Grand Marnier in a Cadillac margarita; see also: latte art.
  • highball n. Originally, in the 1930s, this lazy man’s cocktail was simply whiskey or gin with soda on the rocks; today a highball can mean pretty much any liquor mixed with soda (and sometimes more) and served in a tall glass.
  • jigger n. the small metal cup used to measure booze (typically an ounce and a half); essential for mixing a well-made cocktail, but just plain cheap when employed for pouring whiskeys neat.
  • the stick n. mixologists’ colloquialism for the bar, as in “I’m pouring drinks behind the stick tonight.”
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