Ask The Salty Waitress: How Do I Ask A Bartender To Make My Drinks Less Boozy?

Dear Salty: I moved to Seattle last year, and am not a heavy drinker. On the occasions when I go to bars and order simple mixed drinks (liquor plus mixer) the bartenders in Seattle always over-pour, filling the glass with gin before adding a spritz of tonic. I bet they think most patrons would be pleased by this generosity, but I actually like the flavor of the drinks in correct proportions, and I am not aiming to get sloppy drunk. If they did it once, I could tell them on the second round to go easy, but I don't usually want a second round. It seems presumptuous to tell the bartender not to over-pour before I've seen them do it. Is there a good way to request the proper proportions before they make the first drink?

Thanks, Andrew Wants Less Booze

Dear Andrew,

I bet a lot of readers are thinking to themselves: "I'd love to have that guy's 'problem.'" But I'm more sympathetic to your plight (yes, that cracking sound you heard just now was hell freezing over). Plenty of people don't drink, or are trying to cut back, and being served a shaker pint G&T with 0.5 ounces of T isn't what they're angling for.

There are ways to subtly ask for what you want. You can ask for your drink "tall," which is kind of an old-fashioned term meaning you want a regular pour of booze in a tall glass, stretched out with ice and mixer. Or you can specify a single, rather than a double, and ask for it in a bigger glass: "I'd like a single well vodka-tonic in a tall glass, thanks." Option three: You can ask for a glass of Coke or tonic or whatever your mixer is on the side, and dilute the drink yourself even further. The only time this won't really work is with those fancy "craft" cocktails that are based on specific proportions of booze-to-mixers.

But honestly pal, you don't even need to be subtle about this. Bartenders know some of us prefer more T with our G, or less ice in our rum-and-Coke, or slices of orange in our beer. Whatever. It's their jobs to make you a drink the way you like, so if you ask for "A whiskey-ginger, but not too heavy on the whiskey, please," that shouldn't ruffle any feathers. It's hardly the strangest or rudest they've heard, guaranteed.

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