Embarassing Bar Orders

You are given plenty of help in life. Your father teaches you to shave, your gym teacher gives you a state-approved talk about sex and the bully at school teaches you the merits of fasting. However, when it comes time to cross that final threshold into adulthood, you are utterly on your own. There is no one looking out for you when you begin ordering drinks at the bar. You roll the dice with each request – until you finally get the hang of it.

In the hopes that those of you just starting down the path to cirrhosis may learn from my mistakes, I present to you the first installment of my many, many embarrassing bar orders.


One summer in Boston, my roommate’s mother came to visit from Ireland and I was charmed by her stories of her girlhood spent drinking shandy with reckless abandon. Shandy, for those unfamiliar, is generally made by mixing lemonade with a light lager, such as Stella Artois.

I contemplated the concept of this new drink a while, and came to the conclusion that something popular with an Irish girl in the early 1970’s was CLEARLY the drink for me. James Bond had his shaken martini. Ernest Hemingway had his bottles of rubbing alcohol. In the spirit their masculinity, shandy would be my signature drink.

I ended up at the sports bar my buddy worked at by Fenway Park one Sunday afternoon about a week later. I decided to impress everyone I was with by ordering an exotic beer cocktail. So suave, so debonair. The ladies would form an orderly, single-file line to the left of my stool any second now.

It should be no surprise to anyone that the bartender never heard of shandy. I explained the recipe to him, and choking back laughter, he said that he would see what he could do. He came back with a wine glass filled with a pale yellow liquid.

My first sip of the concoction produced a look on my face reminiscent of that Nazi who’s face melted in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It turns out that the closest he could come to the recipe was Bud Light and 7-Up. I wish I could say a lesson was learned about pairing location and drink choice – but, no, no it was not…which brings us to malt liquor…

Malt Liquor

This one, I unfortunately still do, much to the chagrin of whoever I’m out with, though it is no longer out of ignorance. This is something that my Seacoast friends have yet to experience.

There comes a point in everyone’s night (assuming that the word ‘everyone’ is modified to mean only me and the homeless) where all you want is a nice pint of malt liquor. Now, I am CONVINCED that there is a bar somewhere that has my beloved Haffenreffer’s Private Stock on tap. All this requires is asking every waitress, everywhere, for their malt liquor list.

I receive varied responses to my inquiries. Some laugh it off as a joke, others tell me to fornicate myself, some even suggesting to do so with sharp objects. There is a rare bunch, however, that go ask the bartender or head waitress for the malt liquor list. They generally return red faced and avoiding eye contact. One industrious waitress brought me the scotch list, assuming I confused malt liquor with single malt.

These are just some of my bar orders gone awry, I have yet to scratch the surface of mixed drinks and ordering wine like Dr. Steve Brule.

Enjoy life. MM.