How to Order Bourbon at A Bar?

You’re at a bustling bar and it’s your turn to order. You’d like to try bourbon, but you’re not sure where to start. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

This guide will demystify the basics of bourbon, teach you the lingo, help you pick the right bourbon, and show you how to order like a seasoned connoisseur.

So next time, you won’t just be ordering a bourbon – you’ll be ordering your bourbon.

Understanding the Basics of Bourbon

You’ve got to understand the basics of bourbon before you can confidently order it at a bar. It’s not just any old whiskey, it’s a distinctive American spirit with its own set of rules.

For starters, it’s made primarily from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. The aging process gives it its unique flavor profile, ranging from sweet and caramel-like to smoky and rich.

When you’re ordering, you’ll often see terms like ‘straight’ or ‘single barrel.’ Straight means it’s been aged for at least two years, and single barrel means the bourbon comes from one specific barrel. You’ll also want to note the proof, which indicates the alcohol content.

Now, with this knowledge, you’re ready to order your bourbon like a pro.

Essential Bourbon Terminology

It’s vital to understand some key terms when delving into the world of this popular spirit. First, ‘mash bill’ – that’s the mix of grains used in bourbon production. It’s typically a blend of corn, rye, and malted barley.

Next, ‘neat’ – you’re ordering it straight, no ice, no mixer. If you want a splash of water, say ‘bourbon, neat, with water back’.

‘Proof’ refers to the alcohol content. In the US, bourbon must be at least 80 proof.

‘Single barrel’ means the bourbon comes from one specific barrel, instead of a mix from many.

Lastly, ‘small batch’ isn’t a legally defined term, but usually means a bourbon made from a limited number of barrels.

Now, you’re ready to order like a pro!

Tips to Select the Right Bourbon at a Bar

Choosing the perfect whiskey at a liquor-serving establishment can be a tricky task, especially if you’re still new to the world of bourbon. But don’t worry, you’re about to get a handle on this.

First, remember to consider the bourbon’s age. Older isn’t always better, but it can impact the flavor depth.

Second, be aware of the proof. Higher proof bourbons pack more punch, but also more flavor. If you’re a beginner, you might want to start with something lower in proof.

Lastly, ask for recommendations. Bartenders are generally knowledgeable and can guide you based on your preferences.

Steps to Ordering Bourbon Like a Pro

Mastering the art of requesting whiskey like an expert isn’t as difficult as you’d think. First, decide on the type of bourbon you’d like. There’s straight bourbon, high-rye, high-wheat, and more. Each has a unique flavor profile.

Next, choose your brand. It’s perfectly okay to ask the bartender for recommendations.

When you’ve settled on a bourbon, determine how you’d like it served. Neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water? If you’re not sure, start with it neat – you can always add water or ice later.

Lastly, remember to savor your bourbon. Take a moment to appreciate its aroma, taste, and finish. You’re not just drinking; you’re experiencing.

There you go, you’ve ordered bourbon like a pro.

Etiquettes to Follow When Ordering Bourbon

Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s look at some etiquette you’ll need to follow when making your request.

First off, don’t rush. Take your time to peruse the bourbon selection. It’s frowned upon to snap your fingers or tap on the counter to get the bartender’s attention. Patience is key here.

Also, know your order before you ask. It’s not polite to hold up the line while you’re still deciding. When you’ve made your choice, be clear and concise with your order. Remember, it’s a busy bar, not a classroom.

Lastly, don’t forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Good manners never go out of style.

With these tips, you’re well on your way to ordering bourbon like a seasoned pro.


So, you’ve got the basics, the lingo, and the etiquette down pat. You’re all set to order that bourbon like a pro.

Remember, it’s about enjoying the experience, not just the drink itself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or try something new. Bourbon’s rich variety is part of its charm.

So, go on, step up to that bar with confidence, order your bourbon, and savor every sip. You’ve earned it.