We get it — sometimes when you're ordering a drink at a bar, it's easy to default to rotating between a few of your go-to favorites. While there's nothing wrong with popular crowd-pleasers like margaritas, espresso martinis, and vodka sodas, variety is the spice of life. Switching up your beverage order is a great way to make drinking more exciting, expand your palate, and even become a trendsetter amongst your fellow drinking buddies.
If you're ready to branch out and break the mold, but aren't sure what to order, we're here to teach you about a handful of underrated drinks you need to put on your radar. From classic cocktails that deserve more love to beverage hacks you didn't know you needed, we're here to help make your next visit to your favorite bar more interesting (and delicious). Once you're aware of all these beverage possibilities, you'll never go back to playing it safe again.
Seltzer And Bitters
Ordering a drink at a bar doesn't always have to mean ordering a beverage that contains alcohol. If you don't want to shell out for a mocktail, but you want something with less sugar and calories than juice or soda, we have the solution for you: seltzer and bitters. This combo has a lot going for it. It's cheap, it's healthy, and it tastes as refined and grown up as a cocktail, despite not containing any actual booze. Now, technically speaking, bitters are alcoholic, but you'll only be consuming a few drops, so unless you're strictly avoiding alcohol, it's not enough to really worry about.
We also suggest ordering this in between cocktails to help you hydrate in style. Plus, if you ever find yourself at a bar still suffering from a hangover from the night before (it happens to the best of us), this will help get you back on your feet.
A French 75 isn't an unusual cocktail by any means. In fact, it's a classic. However, not nearly enough people order this classy, sophisticated, and absolutely delicious beverage. Made from a simple (and potent) combination of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Champagne, it's perfect to order when you want your beverage to feel festive. It's also one of the best-value cocktails out there since it's boozy enough that you'll only need to order one or two (don't let the easy-drinking nature of this one fool you).
Even though French 75s seem admittedly fancy, almost any bar can make one, even if they have to substitute Prosecco or another type of sparkling wine for the traditional Champagne. This one definitely has the potential to become your new go-to drink.
These days, people tend to sleep on this chilled, slightly effervescent red wine, but it's actually delicious and highly quaffable — and you should definitely order a glass if you see it on offer at a bar. Now, you're probably not going to find this at your local dive, or even at a cocktail bar for that matter. You will find it at a wine bar or even on an Italian restaurant's bar menu.
Some Lambruscos are sweet, while others are dry and crisp. Since there is a good bit of variation between styles, you can always ask to taste it before you order if the establishment sells it by the glass. We love Lambrusco because it allows you to enjoy red wine even when the weather is hot or you just want something more refreshing than its traditional still counterpart.
Classic Negronis are far from underrated — and we love that people are embracing this bitter Italian beverage with open arms. Mezcal Negronis, on the other hand, are less popular (and completely as delicious). If you want to take your Negroni game to the next level, order it with mezcal instead of gin for a cocktail that perfectly balances a gambit of flavors. Combining the smokiness of the mezcal with the bitterness of the Campari is a game changer, and you'll likely find yourself ordering this again and again.
Not only is this a great Negroni variation you need to try, but it's also a cocktail you should put on your radar if you want to impress your bartender. Trust us — mezcal Negronis are not underrated amongst the industry crowd, and you'll probably get a subtle nod of approval when you order one.
If you're anything like us, you've probably ordered your fair share of Aperol Spritzes in your drinking career — and we applaud you! As much as we love everyone's favorite bubbly summer drink, there are a plethora of Aperol Spritz alternatives out there that you should consider adding to your repertoire, especially the Campari Spritz. It's similar enough to an Aperol Spritz that it will seem familiar, but it's boozier and noticeably more bitter.
Although this cocktail is underrated (at least in the US), it doesn't rely on obscure ingredients, so you can order it almost anywhere. It's ideal as a before-dinner drink or as a mid-afternoon indulgence on a hot day. It's also bright red and just as fun to look at as it is to drink.
If you're a tequila drinker who wants a cocktail that flies under the radar, try a margarita. Just kidding, but if you're seriously looking for a drink to fit the bill, we recommend a Paloma. Made with tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda, it's a refreshing, delicious concoction we think more people should work into their bar order rotation.
You can find the classic variation on plenty of Mexican-inspired cocktail menus, but you can also order one at any bar that has grapefruit juice on hand, as the bartender can use grapefruit juice and soda water in lieu of the standard grapefruit soda. Try it with a salted rim for some delicious contrast, or ask for a chili rim if you like your beverages to include a little spice.
First things first — we aren't talking about the frozen beverage that often comes to mind when you hear the word "daiquiri." We're talking about the oh-so-simple, oh-so-delicious classic Daiquiri. You won't find any crazy flavors or fruit purees in this one. What you will find is rum, lime juice, and simple syrup — and that's it. It might not sound like much, but it's a classic cocktail that's stood the test of time for a reason.
Many cocktail bartenders pride themselves (and even judge their peers) on their ability to make a good daiquiri because its simple nature means it's all about technique. Find a bartender who can make a good one, and rejoice in having found a new go-to drink that's refined, elegant, and perfect for almost any occasion.
People who follow drink trends know that this cocktail has been rapidly gaining traction, but people don't keep up with beverage news and are seriously missing out on this tasty cocktail. The Hugo Spritz gives the Aperol classic a bright, floral twist along with a refreshing hit of mint. St. Germain (which is an elderflower liqueur), mint, Prosecco, and soda water are the stars of this bubbly show, and we promise they combine to make one tasty libation.
The Hugo Spritz is the type of drink that's almost impossible not to like. Even if you usually don't enjoy the taste of booze, you'll probably like this cocktail. It's easy to knock back several of these, and they're light enough that you can do so without worrying you're going to end up on the floor.
Vodka Soda With Simple Syrup And Lemon Juice
This is essentially a DIY vodka sparkling lemonade, but you can order it at a dive bar without getting a dirty look. There's almost no better option when you don't want a beer or a well drink, but you're not in the right setting to order a full-blown cocktail. Sure, the simple syrup will add a little sugar and a few calories, but we think the difference in taste between this and a plain vodka soda makes it completely warranted.
It's still relatively healthy (we're talking maybe an ounce of simple syrup, here) and it won't fill you up or bog you down. You can also try this with gin, tequila, or mezcal, so having this order up your sleeve opens you up to a world of simple, easy-drinking beverage options.
Gin And Soda
Plenty of people think to order vodka sodas or tequila sodas, but not very many people think to order a gin and soda. A gin and soda is underrated because it has all the same appeal as its more popular cousins (light, low-calorie, affordable, easy), with the added benefit of boasting a more unique flavor. It's also a good option because gin is one of those spirits that's rarely consumed on its own, so it's nice to really be able to taste your favorite gin without it being covered up with a plethora of other ingredients.
Gin comes in several styles, and you can find options that feature unique botanicals, heavy citrus notes, etc. Just experiment with different varieties until you find one you love.
You're probably familiar with the coffee drink of the same name, but there's no espresso in this one. An Americano is another light, bubbly, bitter beverage that doesn't get the love and attention it deserves. It's similar to a Negroni in that it features Campari and sweet vermouth, but it ditches the gin for soda water. The result is a low-ABV drink that's a good pick if you want something that will give you a slight buzz but will prevent you from embarrassing yourself in front of your boss at a work happy hour.
Pair it with a few salty, crunchy snacks and you've got the perfect thing to enjoy before dinner. The bitterness can be somewhat of an acquired taste, so you're better off not suggesting this to someone who only likes sweet cocktails.
If you're a brunch fan, you already know that a Bloody Mary is a great pre-noon libation. While plenty of people gravitate towards the vodka-laden version any time they want a boozy beverage to accompany their eggs benedict, we think more people should consider the tequila-based version of the drink, which is called a Blood Maria. While the relatively neutral flavor of vodka doesn't add much to the cocktail except for its intoxicating effects, tequila adds complexity and nuance. The earthiness and zing go well with the acidity of the tomato juice, and it makes the cocktail taste punchier and more interesting.
You can also branch out and try a Bloody with gin, bourbon, or something more unique like Aquavit. So, the next time you want a morning tipple, feel free to experiment.
Vodka And Ginger Beer
This suggestion can be considered as more of a hack than as an underrated drink, so hear us out. Ordering a vodka and ginger beer is a great way to get something that tastes like a cocktail, without actually ordering a cocktail. If you ask for a slice of lime, you're basically getting a cheap, knock–off version of a Moscow Mule. Using ginger beer as a mixer will make your beverage taste a lot more elevated than regular ginger ale since it's spicier and not as cloyingly sweet.
Feel free to use this tip with other spirits. Ginger beer pairs wonderfully with whiskey, rum, and even mezcal. Most bars keep it on hand, so you won't have to go out of your way to find a place where you can test out this strategy.
If you're looking for a brunch beverage that breaks the mold, this one's for you. Girabaldis are the ideal solution for when you want something bright, citrusy, and mildly alcoholic, but you don't want a run-of-the-mill Mimosa. Made from just two ingredients — Campari and orange juice — it's a testament to how simple drinks can taste incredible. We recommend ordering this at a bar that uses fresh juice since the simplicity does mean the ingredients need to be high-quality.
If you enjoy Negronis or other Italian aperitivo-inspired cocktails, we implore you to give this one a shot. The bitterness of the Campari helps to balance out the sometimes overwhelmingly acidic notes of the OJ, and the colorful hues of both ingredients make for a drink that's both beautiful and delicious.
Champagne lovers (or any sparkling wine lovers, for that matter), this one's for you. A Kir Royale is a crowd-pleasing cocktail that combines creme de cassis with bubbly. The result is a fruity, easy-drinking beverage that tastes almost like adult juice (in a good way). It's a good option if you enjoy cocktails like French 75s, mimosas, or Bellinis, but want something that feels a little more special. Not all bars stock creme de cassis, but don't worry — you can ask the bartender to sub-in Chambord (which is a lot more common), and you'll still end up with a delicious treat.
Once you're hooked on Kir Royales, it's easy to start making them at home. In fact, it's the perfect party cocktail since it feels fancy, but only requires two ingredients and zero shaking or stirring.
If you're at a bar that doesn't have mocktails on the menu, asking for a basil lemonade is an easy request that yields a delicious result. You might not be able to get this at a dive bar (the last thing most dive bar bartenders want to do is muddle herbs), but you'll probably be in luck at most cocktail bars or even restaurant bars.
The addition of basil transforms a simple lemonade from a drink that feels like it's meant for kids, to something a lot more adult and interesting. If you do want to consume alcohol, adding gin makes for an incredible cocktail that tastes like a summer day. Opting for mint instead of basil is another good option, and even easier to find since most bars stock mint to use in Mojitos.
People forget that beer can be used as an ingredient in a beverage, too. On a hot day, a shandy, which is a simple combination of beer and lemonade, is a great thing to sip on. The lemonade cuts down on the alcohol, so it's great for when you don't want to get too buzzed but don't want to drink a mocktail or soda, either.
If you tell the bartender you'd like a shandy, more than likely they will ask which beer you'd like to serve as the base. We recommend sticking with something light such as a lager, pilsner, or wheat beer. You can also ask your beer to be mixed with another beverage such as grapefruit juice or lemon-lime soda, but just keep in mind that if you're mixing with anything other than lemonade, the concoction is called a Radler (though many people tend to use the terms interchangeably).
A martini is the absolute opposite of an underrated drink — in most cases. While it might seem like everyone at the bar is sipping on this classic (because they probably are), we're willing to bet that most of them aren't drinking Vesper martinis. This variation is known for being James Bond's drink of choice, and it features a unique combination of gin, vodka, and Lillet Blanc.
If you have a hard time deciding if you want a gin or vodka martini, your prayers have been answered with this one since you get the best of both worlds. The addition of Lillet provides complexity and works to soften the boozy bite. It's garnished with a twist of lemon that adds the perfect amount of citrusy brightness. Just don't ask for it to be shaken, since James Bond was definitely wrong about that one.
This underrated drink definitely leans into the slightly more obscure side of things, as it's a classic cocktail that far too few people have heard of. We'd describe it as a (highly) elevated lemon drop martini, as it features gin, lemon, Lillet Blanc, creme de cacao, and is served up. It's unbelievably silky smooth, and the creme de cacao does wonders to mellow out the acidity. We know that pairing lemon, chocolate, and gin might seem outlandish (or admittedly, downright awful), but it works.
Unfortunately, not every bar stocks creme de cacao, but if you find one that does, please (we're begging here) order one of these delicious drinks. We promise you won't be sorry! Keep in mind that although these go down easy, they are essentially a martini, so consume with caution.
Adding ice and some form of bubbly non-alcoholic beverage (we like soda water, but lemon-lime soda works, too) to wine is all you need to do to make a wine spritzer. For some reason, wine spritzers have a reputation for being "uncool." We don't understand this because wine spritzers have a lot going for them! For one, they are great for when you know you're going to be drinking for a long period of time but want to stick to wine since the soda water adds volume without adding alcohol.
For two, they transform wine into a refreshing, bubbly beverage that's ideal for summertime sipping. And finally, the soda water and ice can help less-than-stellar wine taste a lot better. What's not to like?
Read the original article on Tasting Table.