Despite their gritty appearance and sometimes weird smell, there’s something delightfully alluring about a dive bar. And while they’re wonderful for many reasons, they’re not where we’re heading for fancy cocktails or world-class mixology. When you find yourself in the cozy quarters of one of these bars, ordering a drink shouldn’t be a chore. With slim mixer options, it’s good to stick with something familiar and straightforward.
If you’re a frequent patron or occasional visitor to the dive bar scene, you likely have a set drink of choice to avoid risking a bad night. But if you’re looking to change it up, we’ve compiled a few of our go-to dive bar drinks orders, no Vodka Sodas allowed. Read on to see the go-to drinks VinePair staffers order when they find themselves at a dive bar.
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“My standard dive bar order is a tequila soda with a splash of pineapple juice. Simple yet delicious.” —Katie Brown, associate editor
“If they don’t have Guinness on tap, I’ll usually go with a simple tequila and soda with a splash of pineapple juice, or whatever juice they’ve got. Bonus points if there’s more to their selection than just well tequila.” —Dario Foroutan, social editor
“My go-to is tequila soda with lime. It’s like the fun sister of a vodka soda — refreshing, easy to order in a noisy bar, and it’s never let me down.” —Nicolette Baker, news writer
“Depending on when I’m there, I’ll either order a tequila with soda and lime (beginning of the night), or a PBR (end of the night).” —Joanna Sciarrino, editor-in-chief
“For me, it’s a good ol’ 7 & 7 with Seagram’s 7 and 7Up. It’s simply delicious!” —Lyndsey Corin, director, brand partnerships and sales
“My go-to order at a dive bar is usually a whiskey and a draft beer, a.k.a. the classic Boilermaker. It’s a safe order so that’s always a good call. —Adam Teeter, CEO and co-founder
“Any spirit plus soda plus 10 dashes of Angostura bitters (they all have it) and a lime. Or I’ll go for my Margarita or Sidecar hack, where I order tequila on the rocks with a small splash of Cointreau and about five lime wedges. Then I squeeze them in myself and make a bootleg Marg. You can do the same hack for a Sidecar, using Cognac and lemons.” —Emily Arseneau, director, brand sales and partnerships
“I’m more of a tequila person than vodka so I always go for a Mexican Mule over a Moscow Mule.” —Ariela Basson, associate designer
“My go-to drink at a dive bar is always Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray and soda water with a lemon on the side.” —Jessica Fields, assistant editor
“I go to dive bars pretty often. Welcome to the Johnsons and Peculier Pub are two of my favorite spots in NYC. If I’m not drinking a basic well drink, I typically opt for whatever cider they have on draft or for their beer-and-shot special –– after all, we love a dive bar for a good deal!” —Bobbie Thorn, account manager, brand partnerships
“As long as there is a solid beer and a shot combo, that’s always a good call.” — Josh Malin, president and co-founder
“I walk in and smell the room. If the tap lines aren’t clean and the place reeks, I get a shot and beer in a can, then ask where the closest karaoke bar is.” —Keith Beavers, tastings director
“My dive bar go-to is a Boilermaker. Assuming the establishment’s lines are in need of some TLC, I’ll usually opt for something out of a can — Modelo Especial will do just fine. And if the accompanying shot is poured from a bottle bearing the scowling glare of Ol’ Abraham Overholt, it’s sure to bring a smile to my face.” —Tim McKirdy, senior staff writer
“If I’m going to a dive bar, I’m usually in the mood for a crisp beer (an ice-cold Rolling Rock comes to mind). I stick very close to the dive bar mantra of ordering a beer and a shot. While a Pickleback is usually my go-to, there are certainly some bars that make tolerable Jell-O shots that I’ll go for as well.” —Allison Kuklinski, manager, brand partnerships and activations