Send all questions to [email protected].

Is it bad manners to bring another brewery’s growler to a taproom?

Absolutely not. I realize some breweries have a policy that they will only refill their own growlers. I find that policy not only ridiculous, but also completely hypercritical — if you self-identify as “craft” you should also care about waste. Why must someone own a ton of growlers just to be able to take the beers they like home? Growlers are supposed to limit waste so we shouldn’t force consumers to own a ton of them. One will do just fine.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

(And if you need growler sales in order to improve your bottom line, you probably aren’t running a very sustainable business.)

If I order a drink and the bartender doesn’t know how to make it, should I ask to change?

While it can be intimidating to correct a bartender, if you’ve ordered a cocktail you know well, and it’s clear they don’t know how to make it, it is absolutely O.K. to ask them to make you something else.

I often handle this by being self-deprecating. I’ll say something like, “Sorry for being the geek who ordered a Boulevardier! If you don’t make those often I’m happy to switch to something else, or I’d love to show you how I make it, if that’s O.K.?” I’d only add this last line if the bar isn’t crazy and the bartender seems open to it. Usually they appreciate the opportunity to learn a new cocktail, and I get the drink I wanted in the first place.

And if they aren’t open to it, or the place is slammed? Just order a drink on their list. Those are cocktails they should definitely know how to make.

Why do some Champagnes, like Cristal, come wrapped in plastic?

The practice originated in czarist Russia. The Czar of Russia was a huge fan of Champagne, but he wasn’t the most popular fella. He had a clear bottle specifically designed for him so that, if anyone tampered with his wine, he could easily see it.

This bottle design was adopted by Cristal and a few other Champagne houses at the time. While clear glass might be good for identifying poisoned wine, it’s bad for wine storage, as light exposure can kill the liquid inside. To combat this, Cristal wraps its bottles in a yellow film that protects the bottle from light while it sits on the shelf. Prior to opening the bottle the film is removed and the Czar, or even just a rich club kid, can feel safe, knowing that no one has tampered with their wine.