Bartender at Eugene’s El Vacquero and consultant in much more of Eugene’s bar scene, Jeffrey Morgenthaler maintains a website that serves as a great resource for original cocktails and general good bar advice.
Study up and check out his Eight Things You Should Never Say to Your Bartender and Seven Things You Should Never Catch Your Bartender Doing.
This one is mainly applicable to straight shots of liquor served on the rocks, but I’ve seen it done in mixed drinks, too. It’s an amateur move and a pretty good sign that you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t know the first thing about bartending.
When filling a glass with ice, any glass, it should be filled to the top. Not half-way, not two-thirds of the way, but all the way up. Your bartender is not smarter than the people who make glassware for a living. You’re not getting more booze. You’re not getting a better drink, you’re just getting a warm drink. Or a drink with too much mixer in it.
I know there are merits to not taking one’s shots with ice. I like my shots neat, too, and I’m not going to touch that debate here in this post. But sometimes, folks, there is nothing in the world finer than sipping on a nice bourbon that’s been mellowing out in a bed of ice. It’s sublime, and it lasts so much longer than a straight shot. But I tell you, when I walk into a bar and order a eight-dollar shot of Woodford Reserve on the rocks, I don’t want five pathetic cubes swimming around in my drink. I want a god-damned rocks glass, filled with ice, and soaking in bourbon.
It’s the way it’s supposed to be done. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.