Top 7 Drinks Commonly Unknown by Bartenders

By Heather Aucker


Most of the time when you sit down at a bar and order a drink, you assume that the bartender is a human encyclopedia of drink recipes. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many bartenders. Even in the time of having instant information at the plumb of our hands, it’s still surprising when a bartender has never heard of a drink that was ordered. For instance, my family and I were at a restaurant and my 83 year old grandfather ordered a Gibson and the bartender had never heard of it!  This incident made me think. The Gibson, a classic drink related to the Martini, probably doesn’t reach a high demand in most bars and restaurants, so what other drinks are known but can commonly be unknown by bartenders.  


Here is a list of unknown drink recipes that seem to stump some bartenders: 



Similar to a classic martini, the only difference is the cocktail onion. The cocktail onion, yes, definitely an acquired taste. Personally, because of my grandfather, I grew up loving cocktail onions with a little touch of Gin.  


  • 2 1/2 oz Gin 
  • 1/2 oz Dry vermouth
  • Garnish: Cocktail onion


  1. Add the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and shake
  2. Strain or pour over rocks
  3. Garnish with a cocktail onion.

Cadillac Margarita

I know what you're probably thinking. It's a margarita, any mexican restaurant will know this one! Wrong! I love tequila and the Cadillac Margarita is well… the cadillacs of margaritas and not every mexican restaurant knows how to make one! Believe me, I have been told in many popular mexican restaurants they have never heard of or don’t have the ingredients to make it!


  • 2oz Tequila (Top Shelf Quality) 
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier Cointreau
  • 1 ½ oz Lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • ½  oz Triple Sec
  • 1 ½  oz Sweet & sour
  • Rocks glass, ice
  • Salt for rim (optional)


  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker, except the Grand Marnier. Shake once and pour into salt rocks glass. Pour the Grand Marnier in shot glass to be poured on top of the margarita. 


A cocktail most known in the midwest, Lawrence, Kansas to be exact, but this drink hasn’t hit it big in other cities. Which is interesting with the popular hype drinking of Moscow mules and old fashions. The horsefeather is a whiskey version of the Moscow mule with four simple ingredients that most bars should have available. Drink is perfect for a casual night out or an exciting night in!


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey (Bulleit or Woodford Reserve)
  • 4 oz ginger beer (no preference)  
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Citrus (lime or lemon slices)


  1. Fill a highball glass, mason jar, or copper mug with ice.
  2. Add whiskey, ginger beer, and a squeeze your choice of citrus, and stir to mix. 
  3. Serve immediately, garnished with extra citrus wedge. 


June Bug

A funny fruity drink celebrating the month of June! So for all of you Gemini’s and Cancers, you will love having this cocktail on your birthday! This particular drink calls for:


  • 1oz Midori Sour 
  • 1oz Malibu Rum
  • ½ oz Banana Liqueur (optional)
  • 1 oz Sweet and sour mix
  • 2 oz Pineapple juice


  1. pour over rocks

Smith & Curran

This drink is as known as Smith & Kerns, but Smith & Curran is its proper name. Name after two oilmen, Wendell Smith and James Curran. Overtime, substitution choice altered the original recipe but overall still is a tasty drink. The ingredients of the original and the altered recipe all have to do with the look of the drink. The original ingredients present better.


  • 2 oz crème de cacao or Kahlua for substitute
  • 1 oz cream or half-and-half for substitute 
  • ⅛ - ¼ fluid oz seltzer or soda water for substitute


  1. Fill a tall glass or a small rocks glass with ice.
  2.  Add the crème de cacao or Kahlua 
  3. Add the cream or half-and-half. 
  4. Add the seltzer, then stir briefly, don’t lose all the fizz from the seltzer


Jack Rose

If you’re a 90’s kid you might think this drink was a nod to the movie titanic but you would be wrong. This summertime sunset looking drink was fashioned during the early roaring 1920’s and became a favorite drink of some significant well known people such as Humphrey Bogart and Ernest Hemmingway. The Jack Rose Evidently, the Jack Rose is one of the six basic cocktails; Old Fashion, Sidecar, Manhattan, Martini, and Daiquiri, in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury,  is a recipe bartenders should know. Here is a cocktail to test your bartenders knowledge in Mixology.


  • 2 ounces applejack, like Laird’s
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce grenadine
  • 1 raspberry, for garnish
  • 1 apple slice, for garnish


  1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add all ingredients. 
  2. For 10-15 seconds shake until properly chilled.  
  3. Strain twice through a fine mesh filter and pour into chilled coupe glass. 
  4. Garnish with apple slices and raspberry.


The Bend Over Shirley

If you were ever the kid that liked to sip a Shirly Temple, you will love The Bend Over Shirley. As the drink name should indicate that Shirley is all grown up and deserves a stiff cocktail. This drink name may stump a few bartenders and may get a few chuckles but the ingredients should be available, especially since the Shirly Temple is still known and probably getting ordered. 


  • 1 ½ oz Vodka, raspberry (optional)
  • ¾ oz Grenadine
  • 4 oz Lemon Lime Soda (Sprite)
  • Cherry for garnish


  1. Fill a Collins glass with ice and pour over raspberry vodka. 
  2. Top with lemon lime soda and add grenadine. 
  3. Garnish with a cherry.


Here’s to the astonishment 

Next time you’re out at the bar and you want to try a new, yet original drink while testing a bartender's drink knowledge, give these cocktails a sip. You won’t be disappointed. Also on the upside, you might just gain a new favorite drink and get others to join in on a fresh trend.

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