A bartender making a drink at bar.
What It Means To Order A Well Drink Vs A Call Drink At The Bar
By Greta Pano
Understanding bartender lingo, like the meaning of ordering a well drink or a call drink, can come in handy, especially during the happy hour rush.
If you ask for a drink without specifying a brand of liquor, such as a rum and Coke, you've ordered what bartenders call a "well drink."
On the other hand, if you specify the liquor brand, for instance, a Bacardi and Coke or a Tanquerey and tonic, you've ordered a "call drink."
A well drink, also called a rail drink, is made with the house brand of liquor. It's called a well drink because the low-cost liquor is kept in the well at the bar.
The well (also called a speed rail) is easily accessible to the bartender, where common drink ingredients like mixes and simple syrups are kept.
Meanwhile, if you "call out" a specific liquor brand for your mixed drink like an Absolut and soda, you'll get a higher quality liquor, which also means paying a higher price.
Some premium bottles are classified as top-shelf, which is a step up from call liquors in quality and price — this is why they are stored carefully on a high shelf.
Keeping in mind that each bar has its own fee structure, some examples of top-shelf liquors include Grey Goose, Bacardi 151, Patron, Crown Royal, and Makers Mark.