Cocktails & Chemistry: The Best Drinks to Order on a First Date

Toast to love and your adventures together with cocktails that'll make a good impression on your first date.

Published September 18, 2023
Couple clinking wine glasses in a restaurant

For some, a first date is a fun chance to connect and meet someone new. For others, it can cause butterflies that feel like a swarm of bees buzzing from head to toe.

There's enough to think about when you're getting ready to go out for that first time. So when you plant your butt into that chair on your first date, don't stumble over your drink order or overthink the best first date drink. 

What Drink to Order on a First Date

The most important drink to order on a first date is one you'll like. Don't dive into a drink that you know you probably won't enjoy. Be yourself and drink what you like.

A first date is a chance to get to know the other person and their intricacies. And a drink can say a lot about a person. But sometimes a drink is just a drink. If you're overthinking it, these drinks can narrow down your choices to make things easier on your first date. 

Simple Drinks and Classic Highball Cocktails

If you're not sure what the bar has on hand or you don't want to order a complicated drink, then a simple drink, such as a vodka cranberry or a whiskey on the rocks, can be ideal for a first date. A classic two- or three-ingredient highball is also a safe bet for a first date cocktail. For gin lovers, the classic gin and tonic or Tom Collins are great options.

Of course, a vodka soda is always easy and in style, as is a whiskey and ginger, rum and cola, or even a dark rum with ginger beer. Plus, these don't have any polarizing flavors, smells, or outlandish presentation. Which is a win-win-win when you're working hard on making a good first impression. 

Quick Tip

Consider ordering a common or popular cocktail on your first date (one that most bartenders know how to make) so you can order with confidence. 

Classic Drinks to Order on a First Date

You can't go wrong with a classic cocktail on a first date, except for perhaps a Ramos gin fizz (they're super hard to make, and not every bar has them). You can bet most bars or restaurants can whip up a Moscow mule, margarita, or cosmopolitan

Smiling woman enjoying cocktail with friend at bar

If you can see that the bar is well stocked or even offers similar cocktails on their own menu, you can't go wrong with an original vodka or gin martini, a rye Manhattan, a tried-and-true bourbon old-fashioned, a bitter and colorful Negroni, or a Sidecar if you want something a little sweet to sip alongside a small bite. 

Non-cocktail Drinks to Order on a First Date

Not everyone is a cocktail person, and that's far from a problem. A glass of white wine, whichever you prefer from a sweet Riesling to an oaky Chardonnay, is always an easy standby. A swirl of red wine is also a good choice. Just be aware it can turn your teeth or tongue purple. Any type of sangria or wine spritzer is an alternative wine option. And prosecco or a prosecco cocktail is always a good fit. 

Beer and alcoholic seltzers or hard sparkling water are available at most, if not all, bars and restaurants these days. As the popularity of hard seltzers grows, many bars keep an array of flavors on hand in cans and, well, beer flows as freely at bars as water. 

Drinks Not to Order on a First Date

Yes, you should order what you like to drink, but maybe save these bevvies for date two. A Long Island Iced Tea, and all the branches of its family tree, are probably better for a different date. The same could be said for shots. Although you might be nervous, shots may not be the ideal ice breaker. 

A close second is a boozy milkshake. The combination of a thick, dairy drink with the alcohol may not make for a great party in your stomach. And spending the date in the bathroom isn't any way to spend the date. 

Wondering why not a Ramos gin fizz? Unless the bartender offers and your date is also ordering one, these can take upwards of 10 minutes to make. And you don't want your date to have to wait to enjoy their drink. The jury is out about whether or not a Bloody Mary is an acceptable first date drink. It can be an odd addition to a dinnertime date, but it's just fine for a brunch date. 

Helpful Hack

Start with your favorite spirit, such as whiskey, gin, vodka, or rum, and then work your way through popular cocktails for a drink a bar can most likely make.

Tips for First Date Drinks

Keep these in mind during your date, and you’ll have fewer missteps, spills, or awkward moments when it comes to your first date cocktails. 

  • Order what you like. After all, this is about getting to know each other, not who you think they want you to be.
  • Skip the shots so the date doesn't go off the rails.
  • Don't forget to stay hydrated and drink water with or between your drinks.
  • Skip the pregame, even if you're nervous. Having a few too many drinks can make these dates trickier, not easier. 
  • Consider where you are when ordering before placing your drink order. A dive bar probably won't have the ingredients to make a Negroni, but they'll have no issue with a gin and tonic. 
  • Skip the bottomless drinks for the same reason you don't order shots, a Long Island, or drink your martinis too quickly. 
  • Don’t worry about matching your date, both in pace or drink of choice. 
  • If you're not a drinker, many bars and restaurants have a good selection of mocktails. Or you can stick with soda with lime and a dash of bitters for an easy nonalcoholic sipper.

First Date, First Drinks

Turn your first date butterflies into first date toasts to seeing where the night takes you. Clink your glasses at a dive bar, a nearly fine-dining restaurant downtown, or at the wine bar. Even if you don't fall in love, you can still have a good time and enjoy some tasty drinks. 

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Cocktails & Chemistry: The Best Drinks to Order on a First Date