Call drinks are an important concept in restaurant operations. Whether you are a bar manager, pursuing a career in bar management, or are putting together a bar manager job description, you’ll want to be familiar with call drinks and how they can help you with recipe costing and menu engineering.
But what are the specifications of a call drink, and how do you use it? Find the answer to that question in this blog post, as well as call drink brand examples.
What Is A Call Drink?
A call drink is a standalone drink or mixed beverage made with a specific brand, i.e. Grey Goose, Jim Beam, or Bacardi. In other words, you are “calling out” the brand of the liquor you want to be used in your drink. This makes it a top shelf drink, whether you mix it up with orange juice, lime wedges, club soda, mint leaves, triple sec, simple syrup, or lime juice.
Call drinks also tend to be used in some of the drinks every bartender should know. Customers request specific alcohol brands in beverages for a couple reasons.
One, they’ve come to love that brand’s flavor and can’t go without it. Two, they may be introducing a recipe to a friend or family member, and want them to experience a premium version of it. No matter someone’s reason for getting a call drink, it’s going to enhance the beverage’s flavor and experience.
Call drinks are the opposite of well liquor, which is the generic alcohol a bar uses for drinks. Well liquor is an important bar management concept because it keeps recipe costing low without sacrificing quality.
As long as you have the right proportions of well liquor and call beverages, you can meet all kinds of customer preferences. Call drink options will always generate more profit because they’re higher quality, meaning you can charge more for them.
Organizing your bar for profitability doesn’t happen overnight, though. Keeping track of your inventory is step one to a successful venture, but it’s exhausting when you have to count bottles manually.
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Call Drinks List
Using call drinks profitably includes knowing which call drink brands are most popular and having a standard pour with each. The best approach is to have a few call drinks of every kind of alcohol, because you never know what drink you’ll be mixing.
If you don’t have the budget yet to stock all kinds of alcohol, that’s okay. Look at the top two or three types of alcohol sold at your restaurant or bar and go from there. As long as you have a few brands of vodka, wine, beer, and whiskey, you’ll be able to make most drinks quickly and easily.
Our call drink options list includes specific brand recommendations based on the type of alcohol, to make it easy for you to pick what you need for the drinks you’re mixing.
Call Whiskey List
Whiskey is another popular alcoholic beverage, known for its sweet and mild taste. Though bourbon is the most popular style in America, other countries like Canada, Ireland, and Japan have formed their own whiskey styles. Whiskey can be found in most bars and is used for different kinds of happy hour drinks.
Here are some of the most requested whiskey brands:
- Jack Daniel’s
- Fireball Cinnamon
- Maker’s Mark
- Jim Beam
- Evan Williams
- Johnnie Walker Black Label
- Crown Royal
Call Red Wine List
40% of American adults drink wine, and that’s a fact that won’t be going away any time soon. The wine industry is expected to grow 6.4% year-over-year (YoY) throughout the next decade, which means it’s a great time to learn how to ship wine.
Wine is also used in several cocktails, like sangrias, New York sours, and spritzers. Here are a few of the most popular red wine brands:
- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
- Giuseppe Quintarelli
- Domaine Etienne Guigal
- La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva
- Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion
Call White Wine List
Although white wine isn’t as popular as red wine, about 65% of wine drinkers enjoy it on a regular basis. White wine pairs well with lighter, summer-style meals and tend to have less wine alcohol content than red wine.
Take a look at some of the most popular white wine call brands below:
- Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
- Tank Garage Winery Skin Flick Skin-Fermented White Wine
- Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Blanc
- Ponzi Pinot Gris
- Decoy Chardonnay
- Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio
- La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Call Rosé Wine List
Rosé wine has a signature pink hue, whether it’s rich and rosy or light and bubbly. It comes in as many different wine varietals as it has shades, and a little over half of wine drinkers consume it regularly.
Here a few top rosé wine brands:
- Tormaresca Calafuria Rosato Salento IGT
- Halcyon Wines California Cabernet Franc
- Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis Rosado
- Skouras Peplo High Elevation Rosé
- Masseria Li Veli Askos Susumaniello Rosato Salento IGT
- Balletto Vineyards Rosé Of Pinot Noir
- Avaline Rosé
- Triennes Rosé
Call Vodka List
Vodka is a common alcoholic base for popular cocktails. From ginger beer and Cosmopolitans to Bloody Marys and Aperol spritzes, vodka gets a lot of use. You may also have customers familiar with vodka brands and request one as their call drink.
Below are a few of the top-selling vodka brands that can make your drinks extra special:
- Russian Standard
- Grey Goose
- Van Gogh Vodka
- Ketel One
- Crystal Head
Call Gin List
Gin, which is made out of barley or wheat, is a popular base alcohol for spring cocktails. It also contains juniper berries, which give a distinct scent and flavor to all gin-based drinks. From a gin and tonic to a vesper, you simply can’t go wrong with gin. You could even mix up a gin version of a Moscow mule in a copper mug.
If your customers are calling for a good gin, check out these leading gin brands to mix up the best call drinks:
- Bombay Sapphire
Call Rum List
Most rum is made from molasses, which is the residue from sugarcane after its juice has been crystallized into sugar. Rum can also be made from the sugarcane juice itself, which is where white rum comes from. If you’re brushing up on your winter cocktails, rum is a key ingredient for some of them (learn more: how to make a cocktail with rum).
If you need to add a few rums to your call drinks list, here are some of the most popular:
- Mount Gay Eclipse
- Cruzan Estate Diamond
- Uruapan Charanda Blanco Single Blended
- Bacardí Reserva Ocho Rare Gold
- Ten To One Caribbean White
- Brugal 1888 Doblemente Añejado
- Plantation 3 Stars Artisanal White
- Phraya Deep Matured Gold
- Ron Zacapa 23 Solera
Call Tequila List
Tequila is made from fermented agave juice. The pina bulb, which comes from the core of blue agave plants, is baked, juiced, and added to fermentation barrels with yeast.
Tequila is known for its sweet taste that tends to be earthier when grown in lowlands and more piquant when grown in highlands. It’s also used in several summer cocktails. Tequila cocktails make up a large portion of the cocktail list on many menus for bars and restaurants.
Looking for some tequila to stock? Check these popular brands out:
- Casamigos Blanco
- Fortaleza Blanco Tequila
- Santo Mezquila
- Casa Noble Anejo Tequila
- Don Julio
- Jose Cuervo
Call Brandy List
Brandy is a sweet alcoholic drink made from fermented fruit mash. Many brandies are made by distilling wine which comes from grapes, but some brandies utilize apples, cherries, or plums. Any time a fruit other than grapes is used in brandy, it will be mentioned on the product label. With each type of brandy come various brandy benefits for people's health, too.
Take a look at the list below for some of the best brandy call drinks:
- Remy Martin
- Paul Masson
- Christian Brothers
- Hine Homage
Beer is one of the most popular beverages in the United States, with 39% of drinkers consuming it over wine and other liquors. Montana, New Hampshire, and North Dakota lead the pack with the highest per capita beer consumption.
Pouring beer is fast and profitable when you have a shortlist of brands you can rely on. Here are some of the most popular beer call brands:
- Samuel Adams
- Stella Artois
- Blue Moon
"Key Takeaway: A call drink is a standalone drink or mixed beverage made with a specific brand, i.e. Grey Goose, Jim Beam, or Bacardi. In other words, you are “calling out” the brand of the liquor you want to be used in your drink."
Frequently Asked Questions About What Is a Call Drink
Getting to know call drinks can be a little confusing, especially if you’re just starting a bartending career. If you still have questions about them, have no fear. We researched some frequently asked questions about call drinks and compiled our answers below. With these solutions and tips on hand you’ll be whipping up the best call drinks in no time.
What is considered a call drink?
A call drink is any alcoholic brand that’s requested by name, rather than a generic liquor used in a beverage. Call drinks can be brands that an individual consumer loves or simply a type of drink that’s popular. They could involve a sour mix, a Tom Collins, or a rum and coke.
Most bars have a few call drinks that are based on what’s popular in the region or at their establishment. A call drink may be consumed by itself, with other cocktail ingredients, or with a garnish. The garnishes and mixers may be particularly popular in that local area. They could be locally grown and produced, or have a significance for the history of the bar.
What are call drinks examples?
Call drinks can be any particular brand of alcohol. Examples of call drinks include a Bacardi and coke, Stoli and cranberry, or Tanqueray and tonic. All of these beverages include specific alcohol brands, like Tanqueray gin and Bacardi rum. Other call drinks include Bacardi, Jack Daniel’s, Domaine, Fireball Cinnamon, Absolut, and Hennessy.
What are the 10 most popular mixed drinks?
Here are 10 of the most popular mixed drinks:
- Mint julep
- Pina colada
- Mai tai
- Long Island iced tea
- Old fashioned
- Moscow mule
- Apple martini
Some of these fit the aphrodisiac meaning, some are great for summer days, and some are just excellent all around. You can’t go wrong with any of the drinks on this list. You can make them a call drink with a well-known liquor brand, or use whatever you have in stock in your home bar. Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy every sip!
More Profit Is the Response to Call Drinks
Including popular call drinks in your bar stock is a step towards success. Not only will you have premium flavors for popular cocktail recipes, you’ll have customers’ most desired brands for regular service (and you'll avoid the 86 meaning). Keep an eye on which brands and flavors sell best at your establishment so you can optimize your inventory over time.