5@5 - Set a nervous drinker at ease
January 31st, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

A nervous drinker walks into a bar...

OK, we got nothing - but what we lack in punch lines, we're about to make up for in advice.

Whether you're a bona fide professional bartender or just like to stir things up as the barkeep in the comfort of your own home, you're likely to encounter a guest who doesn't quite know what to make of modern cocktail culture.

As a bartender at a busy hotel bar, Jamie Sanford from Vesper Bar at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas regularly serves cocktail fetishists and booze neophytes alike – and manages to make both feel just as welcome.

Learn his tips to set an anxious drink orderer - and drink maker, for that matter - at ease.

Five Ways to Put a Nervous Drinker at Ease: Jamie Sanford

1. An easy way for people to forget their nerves is to initiate a friendly conversation
"At Vesper Bar at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, we purposely don’t wear name tags so that the servers have an opportunity to properly introduce themselves to each customer. Even before you offer to make them a drink, get them comfortable by asking how their day was and where they’re coming from. They may not always want to be upfront about their nervousness, but you can ask harmless questions to help you figure out if they are in need of a stiff drink or something more soothing."

2. The menu is just a starting off point
"Nervous drinkers can find cocktail menus intimidating if the drinks are unfamiliar to them. Sometimes it is hard to know what a drink will taste like from a menu description, so offer to customize the drink(s) to your guest's tastes. Sometimes nervous drinkers are too shy or embarrassed to ask for what they are really in the mood for. Find out what their favorite drink to make at home is and offer to replicate it for them. You might really win over your nervous drinker if you can find a secret ingredient or two to enhance their favorite cocktail."

3. If you learn enough about your nervous drinker’s palate from your conversation, go ahead and create an original cocktail for them
"Introduce them to a new liqueur or syrup, and ask them to give you their honest opinion of it. This will at least give your customer something to focus on for the first couple of sips."

4. Pull out all the stops and ensure your nervous drinker that you are offering them the best cocktail that you can
"Use the highest quality ingredients at your disposal, including special house-made syrups and artisanal bitters. Be prepared to share some of that top-notch liquor you were saving for a special occasion. Once you’ve combined all the ingredients into the shaker, don’t forget to show off your best shake before pouring."

5. It’s always good to have a specialty drink in your repertoire
"If your nervous drinker can’t decide on a drink, suggest your must-try specialty. I always recommend Strawberry Basil Lemonade to my indecisive customers because it has a great balanced flavor and appeals to a range of palates."

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
.5 oz Aperol
1.5 oz dry gin (I prefer Nolet Silver)
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz lemongrass simple syrup
3 strawberries
4 basil leaves
ginger beer
orange bitters
black pepper, grounded

Muddle the strawberries and basil leaves together with lemongrass simple syrup and fresh lemon juice. Then add Aperol and gin to the muddled strawberries and basil, and shake together. Pour into a chilled glass and top with ginger beer, orange bitters, and black pepper. Finally, garnish glass with a strawberry, basil leaf and lemon.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Cocktail Recipes • Sip • Spirits • Think


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soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Andrea Lysen

    Underlying social anxiety disorder or social phobia is the fear of being scrutinized, judged, or embarrassed in public. You may be afraid that people will think badly of you or that you won’t measure up in comparison to others. And even though you probably realize that your fears of being judged are at least somewhat irrational and overblown, you still can’t help feeling anxious."`"

    Check ya later <http://healthmedicine101.com/index.php

    July 5, 2013 at 12:20 am | Reply
  2. Ted

    What's a nervous drinker, seriously? This article is horrible.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  3. Diane

    I tend to think that if someone is nervous, maybe that's the very worst time to drink alcohol in the first place. Many a crap decision has been made that way.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  4. Jo

    Maybe the booze from the previous binge is wearing off which could, in effect ,make one appear nervous. Who comes up with this idioic crapola and more importantly why am I responding to it?

    February 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  5. Fiona

    Trying again...Dang the robocensor...The idea that anyone has an attack of nerves when faced with having to order from a way-too-cool"mixologist" is as hilarious as it is absurd. Why so much snobbery around the subject of cocktails these days? The western world is increasingly devolving into a giant junior high school, it seems. Everyone trying to figure out ways to one-up and out- cool everyone else. It's Portlandia without the political correctness and flannel.

    I've got news for all you trendy bar hoppers sipping your $18.00 "artisanal" drinks – any really intelligent person avoids alcohol. It's fattening, it destroys brain cells and damages your liver (that drunk feeling you enjoy is actually your body's reaction to a poison), and it's very aging for the skin.

    February 2, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  6. zephyr2

    What's a nervous drinker? Someone who has been unemployed more than six months, wants a drink at a bar like he/she used to, but feels guilty about spending the money because it could be better spent on food or the mortgage. Now that's nervous.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  7. r

    A nervous drinker walks into the bar and the place is jumping but the bartender is rude and dismissive and the nervous drinker goes elsewhere and has a good time there. The nervous drinker is not stupid.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  8. Truth™

    If ordering a drink makes you nervous, you are woefully (and blissfully) ignorant of the state of the world today.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  9. Aint Dat Duh Truth

    When I think of a Nervous Drinker... I think of the kid with peach fuzz on his face trying to pass a Fake ID to a bartender. Guess I am just being logical, its a curse and a blessing.

    February 2, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
  10. Nervous

    If it is a nervous male customer, I recommend Whisky. If female, Whisky with an ice cube.

    February 2, 2012 at 8:32 am | Reply
  11. Jorge

    Most bars are overpriced dives where socially desperate people go for the wrong reasons, with the risk of getting mugged by a thug or a cop when they get out. For me, the exceptions to the rule are venues with a following that play spankin' hot live music either in student or party towns. I can stock the wet bar in my den royally for the price of a good bender in a downtown dive and a DUI fine, and I have an exclusive choice as to the people that I drink with.

    February 2, 2012 at 8:03 am | Reply
  12. Oh Brother

    "Nervous drinkers?" Are you kidding me? Who comes up with this nonsense, and more importantly, what editor thinks it worthy of publication? Articles this stupid have got to be a sign of the apocalypse....

    February 2, 2012 at 7:36 am | Reply
  13. Paul2321

    What is a nervous drinker? Who wrote this headline?

    February 2, 2012 at 7:27 am | Reply
  14. Bar attender

    Thank goodness for this article. Because we all know bartenders can't figure out how to handle people at their bars. They would never have thought to spark up a conversation or recommend a drink. Pheww. The bar business is saved.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:55 am | Reply
  15. Daniel

    A "nervous drinker"? What's there to be nervous about at a bar when ordering a drink??? I'm too busy ogling the liquors and salivating about what concoction I'm about to order to be nervous!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:23 am | Reply
  16. David Hoffman

    When I ask for a layered drink, I get blank stares, frowns, or quizzical looks. There was a bartender at Dyess AFB in Texas in the early 1980's who did amazing things with layered drinks. I never saw another bartender who could do anything like it. The drinks were visually stunning and tasted outstanding. All fresh ingredients, no artificial flavored junk. Sure they cost a lot more and took longer to make, but they were worth it. I never have found a bartender as guest oriented as that gentleman was.

    February 2, 2012 at 1:59 am | Reply
    • Aint Dat Duh Truth

      Girl drink drunk much?

      February 2, 2012 at 11:49 am | Reply
  17. Justin Case

    Justin case you experience explosive diahrea in the bar while sitting on bar stool make sure you pinch your but cheeks together before jumping off the chair. Otherwise you will have what is called "moosh syndrome" and you will experience massive leakage from your bowels. Just hope that there is an unoccupied seat waitng for you in the bathroom...

    February 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  18. Jenna Talia

    Just make sure that you never have diahrea and drink liquied extacy mixed with prune juice. it is not a good combintation but it tastes delicious...

    February 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  19. Hank

    Yeah, 10 ounces of lemon juice and simple syrup is wayyyyyy wrong. That should be 1 oz of each.

    February 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
    • MBob

      Perhaps they corrected it, but I read 1 oz of each...

      The recipe sounds very tasty, I'll have to give it a try.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  20. Thomas

    Just pop a sleeping pill and go to bed.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  21. MKR

    I'm so glad I'm a pot smoker.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • IHEG

      @MKR LMAO

      February 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • Smot Poker

      I second that!!!

      February 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    • Aint Dat Duh Truth

      Yup, Alcohol is for LOSERS! Smoke up and win win. Hangovers are for idiots anyway. (Thumbs up)

      February 2, 2012 at 11:50 am | Reply
    • jay

      i saw a greeting card in the store that said "thank god for beer" and had a picture of a guy chugging a mug. i thought "if that card said "thank god for weed" and had a picture of a guy toking a joint, theyd be writing a news story and the police would be in there confiscating them. oh how sad the world is when alcohol is promoted like that when it destroys lives and weed is so harmless.. and its scheduled next to heroin on the dea list.. how bizarre..

      February 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  22. monah

    A nervous drinker? My niece is a bartender; she has lot's of stories to tell but never one about a nervous drinker.

    February 1, 2012 at 9:41 am | Reply
    • Marv

      There is no such thing as the term, 'nervous drinker.' This writer just made it up out of thin air to waste our time. Google it. This is the only reference to nervous drinker on the internet. I knew it sounded stupid.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply
      • MBob

        Who really cares? I find it amusing you honed in on that, I didn't even think twice about it-didn't think the writer was trying to pawn off a phrase as being well known and then they TRICKED US! Seriously?

        February 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Reply
      • cancando

        Maybe he meant people like me, who feel a little nervous (social anxiety) when going into a crowded bar in a strange city. Perhaps being a little self-conscious about ordering unfamiliar or exotic drinks even though I might like to try one. I can't be the only one.

        February 2, 2012 at 12:21 am | Reply
  23. Carn E. Vore

    You can try and put a skittish drinker at ease by offering them a carrot or apple to eat, then rubbing them on their nose. If they start to flare their nostrils or stomp their feet, back off a bit. Eventually you'll earn their trust...

    February 1, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
    • saopaco

      Epic Lulz!

      February 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • Raydar

      A horse walks into a bar..?

      February 2, 2012 at 11:08 am | Reply
      • CN Red

        LMAO! Now I get it, thanks!

        February 2, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply
      • jp

        .....and the bartender says "hey, why the long face" ?

        February 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  24. Natal Birth Chart

    Asking questions are genuinely good thing if you are not understanding something entirely, except this post gives good understanding even.

    February 1, 2012 at 8:10 am | Reply
  25. dragonwife1

    Seems the Strawberry Basil Lemonade recipe is missing the basil in the ingredients list! It would help to know how much basil to use, and what type, since flavors and strengths can vary.

    February 1, 2012 at 8:03 am | Reply
    • monah

      maybe they corrected the recipe after you read it...it calls for 3 basil leaves

      February 1, 2012 at 9:36 am | Reply
      • Eugène FRANK MD

        But Basil comes in many varieties (spicy, sweet, more aromatic, etc.) and leaves comes in varying sizes from tiny to humongous: thus, it appears, the choice of the species and size relates to the level of nervousness of the customer...and if they are very nervous, use a fig leaf instead.

        February 1, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
  26. CN Red

    "Strawberry Basil Lemonade." I would soooo try that!

    February 1, 2012 at 7:21 am | Reply
    • Drinking for 30 Years@CN Red

      I had a vodka Basil Lemonade once. Not overly sweet; not too tart. Very sublime (sub-lemon?) I highly recommend it.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
  27. Drinking for 30 Years

    Guess I'm not a nervous drinker. If I go to a bar, I either have a specific drink in mind when I walk in or I'll look at their specialty co cktail menu for ideas.

    February 1, 2012 at 7:16 am | Reply
  28. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Roofies help.

    January 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
    • CN Red-I had to look that one up. LOL!

      roo·fie  /ˈrufi/ Show Spelled[roo-fee] Show IPA
      noun Slang .
      a dose of the sedative flunitrazepam, especially in tablet form.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:41 am | Reply
    • Capt. Slapaho

      Part of a balanced diet! giggity.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:01 am | Reply

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