Whether it’s a quick getaway to relax or a friend’s destination wedding, we’ve all found ourselves standing at a swim-up bar trying to decide what drink will be the best balance of tasty, boozy, and non-hangover-inducing. My recent trip let me try out some of my theories, and here’s what I learned …
Take Care of Yourself First
As a general reminder: if you drink enough of anything—high end or well—you’re going to have a hangover. Water and food always help, but keep in mind that you’re (likely) in the pool/ocean, so you won’t notice dehydration creeping up on you. And the sun doesn’t help. These trips are a marathon, not a sprint, so be sure to eat all your meals. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea.
How to Order
First, be respectful of the bartenders. They’re busy and deal with a LOT of people, so be prepared when you get to the bar. Make yourself memorable (in a good way) and tip well. (It may be all-inclusive, but it’s still good form to tip. Just a dollar or two each drink, or if you want to be boujie like my friends and I were, we did $10/round.) Tipping may get you the top shelf pours, and it’s nice to be remembered.
Most resort properties will have a “deal” with a specific spirits company to stock only their bottles, so it’s likely you may not find exactly what you drink at home, and that’s ok! Find a bottle you like and go from there.
Just like any other night out, it’s best to pick a direction and stick with it. Don’t have a beer, then a margarita, then a frozen daiquiri, then wine, then another margarita … that’s the fastest way to get to hangover city. (And I’ll kindly stay on the party train, thanks.)
At some resorts the well isn’t always the only option; you can just ASK for the higher-end bottles. Get the lay of the land early when it comes to options.
What to Order
My go-to this past trip was rum. Since they had Havana Club on the back bar, I asked for it every time—whether it was a shot, a classic daiquiri (on the rocks), a neat/OTR pour, or in a frozen piña colada.
While I can’t tell you what to like, I can tell you what to avoid. Those bartenders can make frozen drinks in their sleep so it’s a quick option, and sometimes they batch them out with less booze than you’d want/expect … and all that means you’re likely to have one (or five) frozen drinks during your trip. Just remember that those frozen drinks often have a lot of sugar, which doesn’t always mean good drinks for your hangover potential.
Learn how to ask for what you want specifically and in their language. (I asked for a classic daiquiri (not frozen). I knew how to ask for it in Spanish and 7/10 times it was perfect.)
Take your own reusable cup and straw. Many all-inclusives are in hotter climates, so your drink is likely to melt/warm up quickly. A Yeti-style cup will help with that, and may get you a bigger pour (if you’re going with beer), so you’ll spend less time at the bar.
And many resorts now don’t have any straws on-property, and not having straws makes that frozen drink a bit difficult to sip. Just don’t lose track of it, bc I love turtles.
Drink plenty of water and eat.
Be nice. Tip well.
Ask for the higher-end bottles.
Ask for the drink you want.