Why You Should Always Order a Cocktail Instead of a Beer

It happens all too often: You go to a bar and, when the bartender asks what you want, you blurt out “Whatever IPA you have on draft” instead of ordering the bar’s critically acclaimed Margarita or that bourbon cocktail you’ve been meaning to try. Big mistake. Here’s why you should order a cocktail instead of a beer every time.

Cocktails Give You More Bang for Your Buck

It’s no secret that a cocktail is typically twice the price of a beer, but think about what you’re really paying for when you order a cocktail: You’re getting a drink that probably packs a boozier punch than a beer, a drink made with fresh ingredients (if you’re in a good bar), a drink made by hand from scratch by a seasoned professional, and a drink you probably wouldn’t be able to make for yourself at home. Plus, if you opt for a cocktail that’s strong and stirred, you’re more liable to sip it slowly, which means you’ll be enjoying your drink much longer than your buddy who went with a light beer.

Beer Has Only Four Ingredients, but a Cocktail Can Have a Bunch

Grain, hops, yeast, water—that’s all beer is, really. Sure, craft breweries have gotten very creative in the ways in which they manipulate those ingredients, but the fact of the matter is, every beer is comprised of the same four ingredients. Cocktails, on the other hand, can be made with any number of spirits and other ingredients—including beer! Beer is merely a planet in the cocktail universe, so when you pay the extra six bucks for a cocktail, you’re really paying for a ticket to a vast realm of boozy exploration.

light and dark beer on table

There Are Two Types of Beer, but a Million Types of Cocktails

You may think beer comes in an endless number of varieties ranging from IPAs to pilsners to porters to fruity lambics, but the reality is those are just sub-categories, which fall into one of two buckets: ales or lagers. The difference between an ale and a lager comes down to how the beer is fermented: Ales are fermented warm with top-fermenting yeast, while lagers are fermented cold with bottom-fermenting yeast. Putting aside that boring beer stuff and getting back to the exciting cocktail stuff, there are many, many families of cocktails from Highballs to Fizzes to Sours to Depth Charges (which are made with beer, so you can still satisfy that hoppy craving). The list goes on and on. So why waste your time with versions of the same two beers when you can try an entirely new type of cocktail?

Cocktails Are Exciting

Cocktails aren’t just about ingredients, they’re about preparation. Certain cocktails are stirred, others are shaken, some are blended and some require a combination of steps. Even if your bartender isn’t a master of flair, watching your drink get made can be quite a show. Watching a bartender pour a beer into a glass, on the other hand? That’s as fun as watching paint dry.

straws in a cocktail
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Cocktails Are Interactive

Unless you’re in a frat, playing a drinking game, or newly unemployed and all out of Fs to give, there’s no societally acceptable way to drink a beer other than tipping the glass toward your mouth (seriously, don’t funnel beers at the bar). Cocktails encourage creative consumption. Some have shots dropped into them. Others allow you and your friends to slurp from a giant bowl of booze. A few can even be lit on fire (then properly extinguished). And when was the last time your beer came with a tiny paper umbrella? Cocktails are just more fun.

Cocktails Are Gluten-Free, While Beers Are Gluten-Full

Whether you have Celiac disease or are just looking to hop on the gluten-free bandwagon, you can confidently order a cocktail and know that it does not contain gluten (unless it’s a beer-tail). But with the exception of specially made brews, pretty much all beer does contain gluten. The fact that cocktails are customizable also allows you to tailor them to any of your dietary needs, whether for allergies or a low-cal diet.

Cocktails Can Be as Strong (or Weak) as You Want

While the alcohol content varies from beer to beer, there’s no way to change that ABV once it’s in the keg. A cocktail, however, can be made as strong (or as weak) as you please. Nervous about dinner with the in-laws? Order a Negroni with an extra splash of gin. Want to remain coherent and upright over the course of a long night out with your buddies? Ask your bartender to go light on the rum in a Dark and Stormy. You’re in control. So if you want to hightail it to Tipsy Town or chill in Low ABV-ville, that is your right as a cocktail-loving citizen of earth.