Way #1: When I go to a bar the first time, I look to see what bourbons they carry. If they’ve got some decent ones, I’ll order an Old Fashioned. But I always tell the bartender or the server to make sure that they don’t add any soda water to top off the drink.
You see, I’ve come to learn that many bartenders – especially those old, crusty ones – hate serving glasses that aren’t full, so to make it look that they’re providing value, they’ll top off a drink with soda water to make it look full.
I think it actually really bugs them! So when I say don’t top it off with soda water, many times, to help quell their phobia of serving a half-full glass, they’ll bump up the bourbon. In several places I’ve gone, this means that they bump it up to a double, but charge me for a single. 🙂
Way #2: This has happened to me several times over the last few years. If I go to a bar that caters mostly to young people and the sports crowd, I will order an Old Fashioned. Invariably, the bartender gets a look of panic on their face because even though they’ve heard of the drink, most likely, their typical clientele never orders one. A few of these folks will even remark out loud, “Wow! No one ever orders that.” That’s my cue. 🙂
I then say, “You want to know my recipe? People will flip over how good this tastes.” Unfortunately, at bars like this, all their oranges are cut up into slices. That’s okay because I just direct them to use the pulp part of a 1/4 slice, show them how to muddle it with a bit of sugar and bitters (amazingly many have orange bitters). Then they add the bourbon. What immediately bugs them is that a shot – even in a single rocks glass – doesn’t look like much. I don’t say anything at that point besides just telling them to add just enough ice to fill 1/2 the glass. It still looks wrong to them, so they’ll pour in more bourbon!
The last time I did this was last year at Champs Sports Bar & Grill in Honolulu. I saw that they stocked Buffalo Trace, so I ordered an Old Fashioned. The young guy there said, he hadn’t poured one of those in awhile because most people just ordered drinks to get drunk or he just pulled levers to pour a beer. But a “real” drink? He hadn’t done that for awhile. So I taught him my recipe and he even made one for himself and remarked that it was no wonder I liked that cocktail.
I visited Champs three days in a row, and from that point on, he poured me doubles for a single price. Of course, that was in appreciation for teaching him, plus hey! It’s ALOHA spirit! On the last day I visited, he told me he’d been pouring Old Fashioneds for people because he was so proud of learning how to make that drink, and people loved it! When I got my final bill of three rounds, the guy only charged me $12! I gave him $60 because I believe in Aloha as well. 🙂 He looked at it and said, “Uncle, that’s way too much.” I just smiled, got up, and said, “Mahalo! Late-ahs!”