Food & Drink

5 Times When It's Actually Okay to Send Back Your Cocktail

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So there’s a human toe floating in your cocktail. And this time, it wasn’t put there on purpose. If you have the courage, you are totally within your rights to send the drink back (and call the health department, while you’re at it). While it’s scary and totally awkward, there are occasions when it’s actually OK to send back your cocktail and demand another free of charge. From getting someone else’s drink to finding strange, foreign objects (i.e. that toe), here are five occasions when it’s completely acceptable to return your drink.

It’s Not The Drink You Ordered

If the bartender (or the server) totally spaced out and gave you a completely different cocktail than you ordered, go ahead and send it back (even if you’ve taken a sip of said drink). A Dry Martini is not a Sex On The Beach—and you ordered the drink you wanted for a reason. As long as you’re respectful, you can call out the bartender for their error, and should be able to get the drink that you wanted without any hassle or extra charges.

They Forgot The Alcohol

When you are ordering a cocktail like a Highball or a Mule, which contains a large portion of carbonated water or a flavored seltzer, it is fine to send the cocktail back if the ratio is disproportionate and the drink tastes watered down. While there is nothing technically wrong with the drink—standards vary from bar to bar as to how many ounces of a base spirit go into a drink—your cocktail should taste like it has alcohol in it.  Also, if a stirred cocktail like a Martini or a Manhattan is watery and over-diluted from over-stirring, it is the bartender’s error and the drink should be sent back.  

Something Is “Off”

If your cocktail straight up tastes like sh** due to a lack of care—or quality control—you have the right to say something. Your palate knows when something is spoiled, and if that pineapple juice is fermenting and turning into vinegar, your tongue will tell you. It’s not your fault the bartender doesn’t know what fresh, day-of lime juice tastes like compared to lime juice that was squeezed a week ago. And, if your beer or shandy is skunked, you can totally make that bitter beer face, spit your foamy drink everywhere, and get away with going on a 15-minute rant about how (and why) it is absolutely necessary to properly (and regularly) clean the beer tap lines.

You’re Allergic to Your Cocktail

People have allergies. It’s an unavoidable fact that bartenders (and servers) must acknowledge. If a bartender fails to mention that a cocktail is made with nuts, eggs or fish, and a patron is allergic to to any of those things, then that person has the right to demand another cocktail. No drink should cause anyone to go into anaphylactic shock. Even if the cocktail won’t kill you, you can send it back and order something else if you know that something in it will make you sick.

Your Cocktail Came with a Foreign Object

If your bartender’s thick, black hair is floating in your drink (or you find it on your tongue after taking the first sip) please, for the love of god, send it back. Finding foreign objects—i.e. anything that’s not a garnish or ice—in your cocktail is just plain unacceptable. From floating dead bugs, to finger nails, to weird unexplainable floating debris, finding anything that isn’t supposed to be there is valid reason to order new drink. Or, if it’s something particularly awful like a small rodent doing the backstroke, just get up and leave.