Cocktail bars are becoming more popular by the minute, which means that more of us are heading to these establishments on a weekly and even nightly basis. Yet even though we’re frequenting these establishments with more regularity than ever before, they can still be very intimidating. Most of us are bound to make some mistakes. Here are the most common and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking That All Spirits In The Same Category Are Interchangeable

Perhaps you ordered that gin cocktail off the menu simply because you like Tanqueray and you’d like to have your preferred Tanqueray used in this drink, substituting it for the gin the bar has chosen. While you are more than entitled to your taste preferences, doing so will cause you to lose out on the intended flavors of the drink. While it’s pretty obvious to most people that whisky and gin don’t taste the same, many don’t realize that even in the same spirit category, the flavors can be vastly different. So trust the bartender and go with the spirit they’ve chosen.

2. Ordering A Simple Cocktail Instead Of Going With A Drink Off The Menu

Martinis, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds are wonderful, but these are drinks you can easily make at home. If you’re about to drop what now has become an average of $15 on one single cocktail, stop playing it safe and go for something the bar has created instead. You’ll be glad you did.

3. Being Afraid To Ask Stupid Questions

Part of the appeal of the current craft cocktail movement is the eccentric ingredients being used. But this also means you may not be familiar with many of these ingredients when they show up on the ingredient list of your cocktail, so don’t be afraid to ask what they are and even request a taste.

4. Not Being Honest About Your Tastes

If you love sweet drinks, tell your server or bartender. The same goes for drinks with a more prevalent spirit flavor or ones that employ fruit juices – just don’t ask to have your drink made strong. The more time you spend discussing what you like with the people making your drink, the more likely you are to be pleased with your cocktail.

5. If You Don’t Enjoy Your Cocktail, Say Something…Politely

Let’s not forget you’re paying $15 for that cocktail in front of you, so if for some reason you aren’t happy with it, don’t be afraid to speak up. If you do so politely, bartenders are almost always willing to make you something else.

6. Dropping That One Knowledge Bomb On The Bartender

It’s great that you’ve learned the nuances between Highland and Lowland scotch, or that you know all Bourbon doesn’t need to be made in Kentucky, but don’t drop that knowledge bomb on the bartender or server. It’s a fact they are probably very familiar with as well, so don’t try to have a competition over who knows more.

7. Being Intimidated By Decorum

At the end of the day a cocktail bar is still a bar. Sure, it may have a list of rules regarding low talking and keeping conversations between people who know one another, but don’t get intimidated–just be yourself. A bar serves alcoholic drinks, after all, and it’s meant to be a place for people to relax and have a good time, so don’t let the decorum put you on edge.

8. Not Drinking Water

Most cocktails at these establishments are pretty strong so it’s important to pace yourself. That glass of water the bartender or server poured you is meant to be consumed along with your drink. It will not only cause you to look more civilized, but your liver will thank you as well.

9. Hitting On The Bartender

Even if the bartender is insanely attractive, don’t hit on them. This is probably one of the biggest pet-peeves most bartenders report having with their customers. If, however, the bartender initiates the flirtation…well that’s a different situation entirely!