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Do bartenders hate it when we make the check signal instead of asking for it?
Yes, they hate it. No one likes to be summoned like they are your servant, and by making that signal, you’re basically doing just that. However, if you’ve tried to get your server’s attention in other ways, and nothing else has worked, or the bar is incredibly loud and noisy, feel free to use the gesture. Just try to be subtle about it.
I opened a bottle and there’s cork floating in my wine. Does that mean it’s corked?
No, though I could totally see how you would assume this is what a corked wine means. Corked wine, though, is much yuckier than a simple piece of cork floating in your wine that you can fish out. When a wine is corked, it means a compound called TCA, which sometimes can be found living inside the cork, has infiltrated your wine. This compound strips the wine of all its flavors and aromas and leaves you with a vino that smells like wet newspaper or a moldy basement. It is not something you want to encounter, and when you do, you definitely should send the bottle back. But if there are just a few pieces of cork floating in the wine, there is nothing to worry about. Fish them out, then drink as you normally would.
Should I order something off the cocktail menu at cocktail bars, or should I order a classic cocktail I already know?
A cocktail on the list is usually one the bar knows how to make well. It’s also a cocktail they’re passionate about, so it’s usually a safe bet. But, if you have a favorite cocktail you always order, there is nothing wrong with ordering it instead. Just be prepared: The bar may make it a little differently that how you would. If you think that might be the case, make sure you let them know if you like it shaken, with a bit more of a certain ingredient, or with a different garnish.