Getty; Inset: Courtesy Alie & Georgia
Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark, a.k.a. Alie & Georgia, host Cooking Channel food-travel series Tripping Out with Alie & Georgia. Visit PEOPLE.com every Thursday for their playful spins on celebrity recipes, cocktails, entertaining ideas—and, of course, lots of laughs!
We’re constantly being asked what our favorite cocktail is. That’s like choosing your favorite child (we’re assuming). If one is acting up or throwing a tantrum in the middle of a grocery store, then one of the other kids becomes the favorite. If one makes us breakfast in bed, while the other steals our pocket change, then a new kid is crowned favorite.
What we mean is, it depends on the situation and establishment. We would never order our normally-beloved Old Fashioned at a dive bar and risk a gross pile of muddled maraschino cherries at the bottom of the glass. Likewise, ordering a vodka soda at a classy, high-end watering hole would be a travesty and missed opportunity to try something new and exciting.
It’s with this in mind that we suggest what to order at three very different locations. We also added a helpful tip on gratuity for each establishment, because (as the salty old adage goes) Tipping isn’t a city in China, it’s the only way your bartender — who has to deal with drunk, rude people for a living — can pay his or her rent.
Loud, boisterous and full of revelrous jocks, the local sports bar is the perfect spot for a frosty pint of beer on a Sunday afternoon. That is, of course, unless you hate beer; Alie does, Georgia doesn’t, much debate always ensues. If you want to blend in, order a pint of hard cider (a fermented beverage, usually made from apple or pear juice) which comes in an equally frosty pint glass, and no one is the wiser. Cider’s also a no? While the thought of a fragile wine glass in such a raucous setting gives us anxiety, a white wine spritzer served in a tall cocktail glass over ice with a squeeze of lime makes for a nice daytime sipper.
Tipping tip: When paying in cash, a dollar a drink (and if the beverage costs, say, $5.50, leave a dollar AND the change you get back). If you’re opening a tab and paying with a card at the end of the night, leave 18-20%.
As we said, don’t risk a drink that takes time, attention and fresh ingredients to make. Ordering a spirit on the rocks is a good choice, if you can stomach it, although we’ve been told tales of owners pouring bottom shelf booze into top shelf bottles. We’ve also heard from those in the know that one should steer clear of garnishes such as lime wedges, olives and those garish bright red maraschino cherries when visiting a questionable establishment (germs, mold and bacteria, oh my!). Your best bet is a simple *blank* & soda w/ a splash of *blank*, and then fill in those blanks with your spirit of choice (yay, vodka!), followed by a juice of your choice (we love pineapple!).
Tipping tip: A dollar a drink, every time.
Fancy Cocktail Bar
Now this is the establishment where you can have some fun. Our favorite fancy cocktail bars are ones that don’t have a menu, just a large array of spirits and fresh ingredients, along with a friendly, knowledgeable bartender who’s ready to work with you to create your dream cocktail. If there is a menu, but the ingredient list reads like gibberish (Combier? Cocchi Americano? WTF?) let the bartender guide you based on a few of your preferences. Do you like sour, sweet, bitter? Hate tequila and rye, but love bourbon or a piney gin? Let ‘em know. Note: If the bar is slammed with customers, be mindful of how long you take up the bartender’s time. There’s nothing worse than trying to order a cocktail while Miss Curiosity down the bar is carrying on a 15-minute conversation about artisanal gin.
Tipping tip: At least $2 a drink — more depending on the level of service.