Whether or not they would personally order the cocktails guests ask for at the bar, bartenders are essentially there to serve. “Of course, as hospitality professionals, we always strive to cater to a guest’s requests, within reason,” says Aaron Zentner, proprietor at Soliloquy Bar in Topeka, Kan.
But, of course, odd and unreasonable requests do come in. Some of them are quickly forgotten once the check is signed, while others, like a ketchup cocktail, are remembered forever. We spoke to bartenders across the country about the weirdest drink orders they’ve ever gotten. Here’s what they told us.
The Weirdest Drink Orders, According to Bartenders
- A carafe of olive juice plus a vodka shot
- Vodka Sprite, up, with olives
- Whiskey Coke, with a glass of olives
- Ice cream, serrano, orange liqueur
- Shaken Manhattan
- Grey Goose and ketchup
- A spicy chocolate Martini, to-go
- Pickle cocktail
- Red Bull, Don Julio, olives
- “Skinny” sugar-free cocktails
- “The Tom Hanks thing”
- Prickly Pear lemonade amnesia
“I’ve had a guest ask me to charge them for a 12-ounce carafe of olive juice and a shot of vodka. I don’t mind someone asking for a dirty or filthy Martini, but I felt a bit uncomfortable with that one.” —Jonas Bittencourt, bar manager and lead sommelier, Asador Bastian, Chicago
“Someone once ordered a vodka Sprite, up, with olives. Their rationale was that they didn’t like Martinis, but they wanted to fit in with the crowd.” —Cody Hott, bar manager, Switch Nightclub, Richmond, Va.
“I think the weirdest one was a guy who wanted a whiskey Coke with an entire glass of olives. He would come in almost every day and order that.” —Matsumoto Mari, beverage director and assistant VP of operations, Goat & Rabbit, Kansas City, Mo.
“It was New Year’s Eve, and a customer asked for a drink with ice cream, serrano [peppers], and an orange liqueur. The resulting cocktail was an adult float with ice cream, Prosecco, serrano, Grand Marnier, and reposado tequila. It tasted better than expected.” —Anders Enevoldsen, assistant manager and bartender, Devil’s Toboggan, Bozeman, Mont.
“Probably the weirdest order I ever received was from an older couple who had just gotten into town. The wife wanted a Bloody Mary, but when I started pulling ingredients, she asked that it be made with ‘just Grey Goose and ketchup.’ I had no words.” —Winston Greene, owner, Tonic Santa Fe, Santa Fe, N.M.
“A mid-30s couple walked in and ordered a few drinks. She fancied this chocolate Martini with a chocolate-powdered rim and a hint of cayenne pepper. An hour after they left the bar, I got a call from the guy saying they’d like to send a cab from the hotel to pick up two more to-go because it made her ‘horny.’” —Patrick Haight, owner, Camp Bar, Tacoma, Wash.
“I had this group of regulars who would ask for off-menu cocktails using spirit and flavor combinations, like gin and lavender. One time, they brought a friend, who was enjoying a burger with bread-and-butter pickles. This inspired him to ask for a pickle cocktail. It actually turned out great — the slightly sweeter bread-and-butter pickles went nicely with cinnamon and bourbon.” —Dan Calin, owner, Perfect Pour Mobile Bar, and bar director, da LaPosta, Newton, Mass.
“A Red Bull with Don Julio and olives.” —Maya Landry, bartender, Bar Marilou, New Orleans
“The weirdest orders for me were when I’ve been handed one of those sugar-free, zero-calorie flavor packets from across the bar and asked to incorporate it into a cocktail. It’s also usually accompanied with a request to use vodka and make it ‘skinny,’ whatever that means.” —Aaron Zentner, proprietor, Soliloquy Bar, Topeka, Kan.
“I had one person order ‘the Tom Hanks thing,’ which is apparently Diet Coke and Champagne. Surprisingly, it was not terrible.” —Matt Owens, co-owner, The Green Room, Omaha, Neb.
“We have a regular who comes in every week with a different date. Each time, he pretends he’s never been in, asks what kinds of lemonades we can make, then orders lemonade with prickly pear. But he makes the bartenders go through every option, every time. It’s not a strange drink, per se, but his act is interesting to behold.” —Matt Wise, bar manager, Formosa Cafe, West Hollywood, Calif.