Great bar staff can endlessly discuss cocktails, and interested customers are a blessed relief to them. Servers love nothing more than receptive customers – customers love nothing more than engaging servers. Dialogue makes everyone happy. Unless bar staff hear the dreaded: “What’s your best drink?”. It is deceptively infuriating, surprisingly common and universally loathed. This seemingly innocent question makes hospitality staff immediately regret every life decision leading to that moment.
I.What is meant by best? Best for what exactly? Best for getting you drunk? Best for refreshment? Best to pair with Beef Bourguignon? Best to warm your cockles? Best to drown your sorrows? It is an impossibly vague question, yet demands a definitive answer.
Conclusion: One wouldn’t ring up a local radio show and request their best song.
II. Although the question is impossible to define, it is usually interpreted as: “What is your (the server’s) favourite drink?” Thus implying: “What am I likely to like?” It is completely irrelevant what the bar staff like, they’re not drinking it.
Conclusion: One wouldn’t go into McDonald’s asking: “Hi, I’ll eat whatever burger you like best!”
III. Another potential interpretation is: “What is the best quality drink?” or “I want your ultimate drink?” This is almost guaranteed not to be required. If the bar staff return with a Magnum of 1990 Krug and a £750 bill most customers would collapse.
Conclusion: One wouldn’t walk into an estate agent as a first-time buyer and ask: “I want your best property!”
IV. If bar staff handle this request professionally, clarifying the enquiry with: “I’ll tailor something to your tastes, what flavours do you like?”. It invariably elicits the soul-draining: “I like something fruity!”. The realisation that Um Bungo in a Martini glass would surpass anything is profoundly depressing to a mixologist. Undeterred, the tenacious server may endeavour with: “What is your favourite spirit?” This generally provokes the ever helpful: “I like vodka!”, the same as saying: “I like nothing!”
Conclusion: One wouldn’t stride into a Chinese restaurant proudly proclaiming: “I want the most flavourful, exciting dish possible…using mainly Tofu!”.
These respectable questions may navigate the potentially murky waters of libation decisions:
I. Ask for a recommendation built around the primary tastes of sweetness, sourness, bitterness or saltiness.
II. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular spirit, but not vodka as it’s tasteless except for impurities or negligible nuances depending on the cost. Regardless, these subtitles will be lost in conjunction with most mixers.
III. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular flavour(s).
IV. Ask for a recommendation built to pair with a foodstuff.
V. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular texture or length, such as something: sparkling, creamy, long or short.
VI. Ask for a recommendation built around a particular price point, but demanding the cheapest or most expensive of anything is cringeworthy.