The Do’s and Don’ts of a First-Date Drink

The Do’s and Don’ts of a First-Date Drink

You’re on a first date and you want to make a big impression. Do you drop $1,347 on a Diamonds Are Forever cocktail? That’s L’Heraud Grand Champagne Cognac, Luxor 24k Gold Flake Champagne and The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters, served in a Swarovski crystalline cocktail glass with diamonds in its stem.

Yes, you get to keep the diamonds.

Of course, the only place that serves it is the Skyview Bar in Dubai. So after that 12.5-hour flight, the drink is pretty much a Hail Mary. Especially if you flew your date Coach.

But let’s step back into the world of the other 99.999%. You’re on a first date or you spot an attractive prospect at the far end of the bar. What do you order to show your savoir faire? Your panache? Your joie de vivre?

Tonight’s coming attraction: The bar at Spotlight Theaters

We posed this question to both patrons and bartenders down on Front Street District, with insights from lifestyle blogger Chelsea Briche, aka The Millennial Miss.

                                     What’s your first drink for a first date?

“Champagne,” says Sharmaine, as if tasting the finest, and her eyes light up. “Because it tells me you think I’m so worth it.” She also might ask for a Sex on the Beach: “It says you’re available, but not too.”

Chelsea Briche, the Millennial Miss
Chelsea Briche, the Millennial Miss

Vanessa and Amy agree on white wine as a safe bet. “But not red,” Amy adds, “because it stains.”

“It’s also too romantic for a first date,” says Vanessa. That’s also the reason why they both wouldn’t wear red.

Maybe you’re not a regular drinker—but don’t want to show it. One universal tip: Leave the Long Island ice teas and whiskey sours in college. If you’re looking for an icebreaker,” advises The Millennial Miss, “don’t make it too fancy. Don’t order a Mai Tai cocoanut twist lemonade—that might raise an eyebrow. Simple is better.”

                                   Do you go with tradition or start one?

 Perhaps, to be safe, you suggest an old standby for that first sip.

While the Cosmo in its many iterations retains its Sex & the City mystique, The Millennial Miss says the Moscow Mule seems to be the go-to drink right now: vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and a lime wedge. It shows you know what’s hot.

And what if it’s way too hot as you meet al fresco under the summer sun? Don’t just talk about the weather—Charlie at Nix’s says to try a real refresher, the Mountain Breeze: Finlandia vodka, fresh-squeezed lime and orange juice and a splash of cranberry. “It’s not a straight martini, it’s a fun drink for summer.”

An old-school drink with a new kick to it. That’s what I want to drink.” Charlie at Nix’s mixes a gin martini with fresh-squeezed lemon and basil, and a crisp cucumber garnish.
An old-school drink with a new kick to it. That’s what I want to drink.” Charlie at Nix’s mixes a gin martini with fresh-squeezed lemon and basil, and a crisp cucumber garnish.

Since your first drink complements that all-powerful first impression, how do you order something that says you’re sophisticated but not stuffy? Brendan at Ted’s Montana Grill says that rye is making a comeback as patrons look for a classic taste with a contemporary accent. “People have gotten away from traditional bourbon. They want higher octane with a little fire too it, and rye goes well with many cocktails.”

The number-one question he gets is, “What’s local?” Whether it’s an IPA or a barman-crafted cocktail, people increasingly want to taste something they just can’t get anywhere else. They’re thirsting for creativity and relevance.

The number one question I get? ‘What’s local?’” says Brendan at Ted’s Montana Grill.
The number one question I get? ‘What’s local?’” says Brendan at Ted’s Montana Grill.

And what could be more relevant and creative than a drink that’s designed to pair with the entire evening’s entertainment? At Spotlight Theaters, Kareena and her fellow bartenders keep dreaming up new drinks to match the movies. Here you can savor one of Professor Xavier’s Cocktails for Gifted Adults. Now you’re not just talking about the chemistry between JLaw and Michael Fassbender, you’re tasting it.

Kareena says their bestseller is the Trainwreck: Bacardi Tangerine, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and fresh-squeezed lime. She’s especially proud of her own creation, the Mad Hatter: Absolut Berry Acai, cranberry and pineapple juices with an orange slice.

So your libation can become the conversation piece—and the night can be a journey of delicious discovery as you and your date discover the reasons why you too might blend perfectly.

Does your drink define you?

Alas, gentlemen, it’s true: Your first drink is a preview of coming attractions—or lack thereof. So if you lock eyes with a lady at the other end of the bar, don’t go overboard.

The Millennial Miss advises: “If you choose liquor for yourself as opposed to wine or beer, it might send a mixed signal: Why is that your first choice? You’re not easing in, you’re going right for the touchdown.”

Vanessa and Amy relax at Nix's
Vanessa and Amy relax at Nix’s

Vanessa recalls a date that went south fast. It started out as a jet-ski adventure at the beach—until he took off his shirt. He was covered with the tattooed names of other women. The tip off: He was a beer and whiskey guy.

“A first date is like a job interview,” says Brendan. “You don’t always get the job. But then you see people who have a four-hour conversation that feels like a half hour. They look up and the chairs are up in the dining area.”

Oddly enough, all the bartenders said they’re happier to see a couple drinking less. They’d rather have you lovingly nurse one of their creations over a leisurely conversation. It shows the First Date is going well. If they’re ordering shots, it’s probably the Last Date.

Stereotypes go down the hatch

“I see a lot of empowerment with women,” says Brendan at Ted’s. They don’t always go for a froo-froo drink. Today they’ll order a whiskey neat or a Manhattan, or a Lemon Drop martini with fresh-squeezed lemonade, Tito’s and Cointreau.”

It’s not about the drink defining you—it’s about you defining yourself.

The Millennial Miss agrees: “Personally, I’m a Bud Lite girl. A few years ago, especially in college, I would have ordered a drink to fit in. Now, at a table with 20-somethings, I’m totally comfortable with a water with lemon. It’s about having the confidence to drink or not to drink.”

Everyone agrees on the right mix for a successful evening: Keep it simple, keep your cool, and keep on being true to yourself. Which is a lot more relaxing and less expensive than that trip to Dubai.

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