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Do you need to "always" ask the guest for preferences in a drink

There are two main opinions out, if it comes to drinks [not only mixed drinks - but also spirits and other liquors] - the first: you serve it how the guest wants it - the second: you serve it as your standard; assuming you have standards in your bar.

There is nothing right or wrong here - there are two philosophies and a lot of grey shades - you just have to understand, what you are doing.

Asking the guest for his preferred serve might sound foolish for some guests. Why? Talking of single malt whisky, cognac [and other brandies], but also highballs or just a Martini cocktail: If you are asking, for ice, the guest might assume, that you don't know what you are doing.

Brandies and single malt whisky [but also eaux de vie, akvavit, even Irish whiskey] are served by default without ice. Don't argue [or do - in the comment section below], it is just like that. If a guest would like to have it on the rocks, he could ask for it [and in most cases we would be happy to individualize the order, wouldn't we]. So why do you want to ask for it?

And highballs, long drinks and so on are just served with usually a lot of ice.

But this topic has another twist. It is not only more professional, to know what is the "default" serving of each drink. It is also the style, quality and standards of the establishments, which is at stakes.
Usually if you are ordering grilled tuna in any style, culinary wizards [read: chefs] agree, that it should be served rare. This is how it is - and only in few occasions a waiter is asking for the temperature of it.
Steaks would be the exception of the rule... but even though - if you are ordering e.g. game, you might be informed, but not necessary asked about the temperature. Why? Because there is the good way - or lets rephase it: the way, the chef intending the dish.

Shouldn't we take the pride, to act similar?

I firmly believe, that in mixology, there are only three main reasons, for »unusual« preparation orders.
  1.  The guest was disappointed in [too many] previous bars - hence his drinks was too warm. So he is ordering on the rocks, to avoid the hassle of complaining and waiting again for another properly fixed drink.
  2. The guest likes to »individualize« for the sake of being different. 
  3. Or our guest was just »informed« wrong before - e.g. he got the drink wrong in a previous bar, hence believes, that he is right.

For point 1 and 3 it is easy for a good bartender to convince the guest, to try the properly mixed, flawless drink in a classic preparation. Yes - a drink stirred or shaken for around 18 seconds will be cold enough and don't need to be served on the rocks, as long as it is rather short...


For point 2 - don't argue - just give the guest what he really wants [which is showing off].


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