It’s no secret that when I’m at a nice restaurant I’ll check out the cocktail menu – to see what new or interesting creation the local mixologist may be offering. A cocktail signifies a celebratory occasion, an official “night out.” It tips the scales towards your night becoming something beyond ordinary. Perhaps some of you order cocktails for the same reason. But what about when you’re not at a nice restaurant? What if you’re just at a regular bar? Maybe you stumbled into (gasp!) a college bar – the ones with doormen outside yelling “$2 – You Call It’s!” What do you order then?

I appreciate a bar that has a mixologist on staff, interesting infusions, unique preparation, crafted bitters. But, there’s nothing wrong with liking it simple either. You may just want a gin and tonic, a vodka sprite, or a rum and coke.

I’m not sure what it is about me, but I never liked those simple drinks. Maybe it’s because I didn’t start drinking until I was 24. Or maybe I can blame it all on a bad experience with Malibu rum when I did start drinking (to this day that white bottle with palm trees makes me cringe a little). You never really forget do you?

I was the guy ordering a margarita at The Library, Soco Limes at Maggie Mae’s, or flipping through an iPhone app and trying to tell the bartender to make a particular something. Uber goober? Yes, I was – and likely still am.

One day though, I did discover a simple drink that was me. One that just has two ingredients, and one that you can get at any bar – particularly the ones whose cocktail menu consists of tiny white buttons on a spray nozzle.

This is the Tequila Ginger Ale.

Tequila Ginger Ale

(makes 1)

1.5 oz Tequila
Ginger Ale (the real stuff if you can find it. I like Fentiman’s Ginger Beer)

1. You really can’t mess this up. Pour 1 shot of tequila into an ice-filled glass.

2. Now top with ginger ale. Done. It takes about 10 seconds – 5 seconds for a bartender with a fancy nozzle.

When I suggest this to someone that’s indecisive about what to order, they usually end up loving it. Sometimes they say it’s all they ever get now. Tequila is my spirit of choice, and I think the ginger ale takes out all the bite of a harsh tequila you’d be served at a college bar. The ale also adds citrus and a touch of sweetness for something I don’t mind calling my cocktail.

What’s your go-to drink at a bar without a cocktail menu?

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