There are certain reasonable expectations when walking into a dive bar. It will be cheap but unpredictable. It will also have some of the best regulars and most honest bartenders. That said, dive bars are not the place where you can peruse a cocktail menu or get deep on drink orders. No one knows this better than bartenders, so we spoke with 12 bartenders from around the country about what their go-to dive order is and why. Beware, Boilermakers ahead.
Todd Stern, general manager and beverage director at Seamore’s in New York City
Go-to order: “Beer and a shot, which for me is whatever local IPA they have on draft and a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey.”
Reasoning: “If I’m hanging out in a dive bar, it’s probably because there’s drinkin’ to do, and ain’t no better way to get to that happy place than lining ‘em up and knocking ‘em back two at a time.”
Amie Ward, beverage director at R. Bar in Baltimore, Maryland
Go-to order: “I am 100 percent a beer and shot woman. In Baltimore, our dive of dives is called Mount Royal Tavern, aka MRT, aka the Dirt Church. MRT is cash only, has a swear jar, and is adorned by a painting of the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling. It is epic. The special there is a Natty Boh [National Bohemian] and shot of Rittenhouse Rye.”
Reasoning: “The special costs about $8, and brings you one step closer to having your own religious experience. It is simple, unassuming and captures the charm of Charm City.”
Go-to order: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale or another session IPA with a cheap shot of Old Crow.
Reasoning: Old Crow “does me good every time.”
Jesse Ross, assistant manager at Sycamore Den in San Diego, California
Go-to order: “As at any bar, my drink order reflects my mood and a dive is no different. Miller High Life and a shot of bourbon is definitely a go-to, sometimes a gin and soda with lemon or a Dirty Martini.
Reasoning: “If you bartend it’s usually pretty easy to read the bar and your drink decision makes itself, just don’t be stuck up and don’t demand more than the space can provide. Be cool.”
Go-to order: “There’s a bar around the corner from Maison, which is not a place you’d ever order a mixed drink besides maybe a Gin & Tonic, but what they do happen to have is Calvados. I’ll usually order that with a crisp pilsner or Guinness, sometimes I’ll even combine it with the beer.”
Reasoning: “I’m not a big fan of what you usually find in a dive bar, I don’t shoot whiskey or anything like that, but Calvados is nice on ice, by itself, with tonic or delicious with a beer.”
Michelle Sordi, bar director at Colonie in Brooklyn, New York
Go-to order: “My go-to dive bar cocktail is a Ferrari.”
Reasoning: “If there is anything I can tell you about a dive bar, it’s don’t trust it until you know it. Quality dive bars may be able to make good cocktails, but if you don’t have a rapport, there is no sense in trusting the bar(tender) to make a quality drink. Things to steer clear of are juices (probably synthetic) and vermouth (probably not refrigerated, and therefore stale). When trying to negotiate a drink that requires no fresh juice or vermouth, a Ferrari comes to mind. It is simple, easy, and flavorful. Equal parts Fernet-Branca and Campari, it packs a punch and satiates all of your immediate needs.”
Chelsea Carrier, wine director at Vinateria in New York City
Go-to: “‘After a long shift of tasting wine, all I want is a cocktail. Something simple, easy to make, and bitter. Unfortunately, I am Celiac, so beer is out of the question. Instead, a Negroni is my go-to.
Reasoning: “Hits all my favorite points, but also, settles my belly after late-night family meal.”
Go-to: “When I go to a dive bar, I want to do dive-y things and for me that usually means a Miller High Life and a shot of Jameson or blanco tequila. However, full disclosure: I am a sucker for Long Island Ice Teas. DIVE-Y THINGS!”
Reasoning: “Dive bars were made for beer and a shot-you don’t go to a pizza joint and order tacos, do you?!”
Tim Garso, beverage director of the Galley Group based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Go-to: “I always like to make sure my order is something easy for the bar staff. That’s just the way my mind is programmed now. Sometimes I like to be fancy, in which case, I order a Cosmo. Yes, a Cosmo.”
Reasoning: “It’s one of those drinks that every bar has the ingredients for on hand. Plus, the left over ice chips floating on top is the best part of any dive bar Cosmo.”
Go-tos: Gin & Tonic (“always London Dry Tanqueray or J. Rieger gin if they have it”), a whiskey on the rocks (“with a well bourbon like Old Grandad”) or a shot of J. Rieger whiskey with a hard cider.
Reasoning: “I love dive bars. There is an element of escapism no matter what genre you work in, from speakeasies to luxury hotel bars. You leave your worries at the door and it’s the pure pleasure of drinking with friends.”
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.