Last Updated:
April 29, 2024

Well Drink: What It Is & Complete Well Drink List

Wondering what a well drink is and how to order one? This guide by WISK explains what it is, as well as a complete well drink list to order.
Well Drink: What It Is & Complete Well Drink List
Angelo Esposito
A preview of the downloadble item
Free resource

Restaurant Inventory Software Worksheet

Download this checklist to make the most of your restaurant inventory. Learn about restaurant inventory software that's adapted to your venue to manage your operations better.

Download free!
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this information is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You're responsible to comply with all applicable laws in your state. Contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.
Table of Contents

What Is a Well Drink?

Well, my friend, the term "well drink" has an interesting history in the world of bartending. When you order a Well Drink at a bar, it means the bartender will use the house or standard liquor available in the well— which is a recessed area in the bar where the most commonly used liquors are kept within easy reach.

Now, the reason it's called a "Well" is believed to be derived from the old days when bars used wells to store ice and chilled water. As bartenders started keeping their most frequently used liquors within arm's reach in these wells, the term "Well Drink" stuck around.

The Origins of the Bartending Term 'Well Drink'

The Well Drink has its roots in the early days of bartending, where establishments used wells to keep ice and chilled water. As bartenders evolved their craft and began concocting mixed drinks, they stored the most commonly used liquors within arm's reach in these wells. These accessible liquors were referred to as Well liquors.

Unlike a premium drink, which is made with particular brand liquors, Well Drinks are mixed using the standard or house liquors available in the well. These drinks are sometimes also called rail drinks because the bartender typically reaches for the bottles along the bar's rail, where the well is located.

The popularity of Well Drinks grew as they offered customers a more affordable option compared to premium drinks made with particular brands. Over time, bars started featuring a "well drink menu" that listed the various mixed drinks using readily available well liquors.

One iconic example of a Well Drink is the Moscow Mule, which is often served in a distinctive copper mug. This classic cocktail became famous in the 1940s and helped popularize the use of vodka as a Well liquor.

Today, Well Drinks remain a favorite choice for many patrons looking to enjoy delicious cocktails without breaking the bank. Bartenders continue to get creative with these call liquors, providing a wide range of flavorful options using accessible Well liquors.

What Makes a Drink a Well Drink?

Well drinks are a type of mixed drink that is made using the standard or house liquors available in the "well" of a bar. The well is the area where bartenders keep the most commonly used liquors within easy reach.

The Difference Between Well and Call Drink

The main difference between a Well drink and a call drinks lies in the type of liquor used to make the drink.

Well Drink:

Well drinks are made using the standard or house liquors available in the "Well" of a bar. The Well is where bartenders keep the most commonly used liquors within easy reach. These Well liquors are more affordable and do not belong to specific brands.

Example Scenario:

Let's say you walk into a bar and order a "rum and coke." If the bartender uses the standard rum available in the well, it would be considered a Well drink. They will mix the rum with cola, which is usually a complimentary mixer, and serve it to you.

Call Drink:

A call drink, on the other hand, is made using a particular brand or premium liquor that a customer specifically requests. Instead of the standard well liquor, the bartender uses the specified brand for the call drinks.

Example Scenario:

You decide to order a "gin and tonic" but request a certain brand of gin, like Tanqueray or Hendrick's. In this case, the bartender will use the brand you asked for, and it becomes a call liquor.

Let's Break Down The Drinks Mentioned:

  • A "rum and coke" made with the standard rum in the well is a well drink.
  • A "gin and tonic" made with a certain brand of gin, such as Tanqueray or Hendrick's, is a call drink.

Additional Examples:

  • If you order a "club soda" with the standard soda water available in the well, it's a well drink.
  • If you request a "tequila sunrise" with a known brand of tequila, like Patrón or Don Julio, it becomes a call drink.
  • Asking for a "lime wedge fill rest" means you want the bartender to use a certain brand of lime-flavored liquor or liqueur, making it a call drink.

In summary, well drinks are the standard mixed drinks made with the more affordable well liquors, while call drinks involve specific brand or premium liquors requested by the customer. The choice between well drinks and call drinks ultimately depends on your taste preferences and budget.

The Advantages of Opting for Well Drinks

Opting for well drinks offers several advantages that cater to both your taste buds and your wallet!

  1. Affordability: Well drinks are made with Well liquors, which are the standard, more budget-friendly options available at the bar. By choosing well cocktails, you can enjoy delicious mixed drinks without the premium price tag associated with specific brand liquors or top-shelf liquor options.
  2. Accessibility: The Well liquors are conveniently located in the speed rail or "well" area of the bar, making it easier and quicker for bartenders to prepare your drink. This means you won't have to wait long for your classic Well Drink to arrive, especially during busy times like Happy Hours.
  1. Mixology Made Easy: Since Well drinks typically have straightforward recipes, bartenders can whip them up without the need for elaborate tools like a "cocktail shaker." This streamlined process ensures you get your drink promptly and consistently.
  2. Savings During Happy Hour: During "happy hour" specials, bars often offer discounts on Well drinks, making them an even more enticing option. It's an excellent opportunity to savor your favorite well cocktails without breaking the bank.
  3. Craft Cocktails on a Budget: Well drinks may be affordable, but that doesn't mean they lack flavor or creativity. Bartenders often infuse their expertise to craft well drinks with fantastic taste profiles, providing you with delightful sips without the high cost.

So, whether you're looking to enjoy classic favorites or explore new concoctions, opting for Well drinks is a smart choice that balances quality, taste, and affordability. It's the perfect way to have a good time with friends, especially during happy hour, without putting a strain on your wallet. Cheers to the wonders of speed rail and the joy they bring to any gathering!

How to Cost a Well Drink?

Ah, the food cost percentage (FCP) for a rail drink can vary depending on several factors, including the type of establishment, location, and pricing strategy. However, as a general rule of thumb, the food cost percentage for a rail drink is typically around 5% to 15%.

Let me break it down a bit: The FCP is the ratio of the cost of the ingredients used to make a drink to the selling price of that drink. For a rail drink, the main cost comes from the Well liquor itself, along with any mixers and garnishes used.

For example, if the total cost of the ingredients used to make a rail drink is $1.50, and the selling price of that drink is $6.00, the FCP would be:

FCP = (Cost of Ingredients / Selling Price) x 100
FCP = ($1.50 / $6.00) x 100
FCP = 0.15 x 100
FCP = 15%

Keep in mind that the actual food cost percentage may vary depending on the specific pricing and sourcing of ingredients at each establishment.

Bars and restaurants aim to strike a balance between offering customers reasonable prices and maintaining a profitable operation. By carefully managing food costs and pricing strategies, they can ensure that rail drink remains a popular and economically viable option for patrons.

Top Picks for Well Drinks

Well drink recipes are incredibly versatile, and there's a vast array of beverages that can be prepared using well liquors. Here's a list of the top and common well drink recipes that you might want to try for your bar:

Rum and Coke:

A classic and refreshing rail drink that's simple to make. Mix a shot of standard rum from the well with cola garnish over ice in a glass. Garnish with a lime wedge if desired.

Gin and Tonic:

A timeless favorite, this rail drink is made by combining a shot of well-London dry gin with tonic water over ice. Add a squeeze of lime and a lime wedge for an extra zesty touch to enjoy your vodka cranberry juice.

Vodka Cranberry:

A fruity and colorful choice, this rail drink requires mixing a shot of well, then ice and add vodka with cranberry juice. Garnish with a lime or orange slice for added flavor.

Tequila Sunrise:

A visually stunning rail drink, it's made by pouring a shot of well tequila over ice in a glass. Slowly add orange juice garnish, then a splash of grenadine, allowing it to settle at the bottom, creating a sunrise effect, and to top it off, one must have an orange slice.

Classic Whiskey Sour:

A classic sour cocktail, it's made by combining a shot of well whiskey with fresh lemon juice and simple syrup over ice. Shake it in a cocktail shaker, strain and fill glass, and garnish with a cherry or lemon slice. Your classic sour mix shake

Cocktails Rum Punch:

A fruity and fun party favorite, this rail drink is made by combining a shot of rum with pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine in equal parts. Add a splash of lime juice for an extra zing. Serve over crushed ice in a punch bowl or large glass to share!

Ginger Ale:

A delightful and refreshing option, the Whiskey Ginger is another popular choice among well drinks. To prepare this, pour a shot of well whiskey over ice in a glass and fill the rest with ginger ale. A twist of lime can be added for that extra tangy kick, enhancing the overall flavor profile.

Vodka Soda:

A light and straightforward rail drink, it's made with one shot of vodka mixed with soda water. Squeeze in a lime wedge for extra flavor, or add citrus-flavored vodka for more zest.

Other Common Well Drinks List


This refreshing cocktail is a blend of well rum, fresh mint leaves, lime juice, simple syrup, and a splash of soda water.

Bloody Mary:

A well vodka-based cocktail mixed with tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. It's typically garnished with celery and olives.


Made with well tequila, lime juice, and triple sec, this classic cocktail is served with salt on the rim of the glass.

Tom Collins:

This well-gin-based drink is mixed with lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water, offering a balanced taste between sweet and sour.

Long Island Iced Tea:

A mix of well vodka tonic, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, lemon juice, and Coca-Cola. It's a potent concoction that packs quite a punch of spicy flavor!

White Russian:

This creamy concoction combines well vodka with coffee liqueur and cream or milk.

Fuzzy Navel:

This sweet and sour cocktail is made with well vodka, orange juice, and peach schnapps.


This sweet cocktail combines grapefruit juice, simple syrup, soda water, lime juice, and well tequila.

Maximizing Your Well Drink Selection

To maximize your rail drinks selection and ensure a delightful experience for your guests, consider these tips:

  1. Expand Mixers and Garnishes: Elevate the rail drink experience by providing an array of mixers and garnishes. Have a variety of sodas, fruit juices, tonic water, and grenadine on hand. Offer fresh citrus slices, mint leaves, cherries, and other garnishes to enhance the presentation and flavor of the drinks.
  2. Signature Well Cocktails: Create a few signature well cocktails unique to your establishment. These exclusive drinks can set your bar apart and attract patrons who want to try something new.
  3. Seasonal Specials: Introduce seasonal rail drink specials that align with the time of year. Consider refreshing and fruity options for the summer and warm and spiced concoctions for the winter.
  4. Promotions and Happy Hours: Use promotions and happy hour deals to showcase your rail drinks. Discounted prices during happy hours can entice customers to try your well cocktails and keep them coming back for more.
  1. Training for Bartenders: Ensure your bartenders are well-versed in the art of making excellent rail drinks. Proper training ensures consistency and quality in each pour.
  2. Feedback and Surveys: Encourage feedback from customers about your well drinks. Use surveys or social media to gather insights and discover which drinks are the most popular among your patrons.
  3. Collaborate with Bartenders: Involve your bartenders in curating the rail drink selection. They might have exciting ideas or unique concoctions that can become favorites among your guests.

Enhancing Your Well Drink Experience

To enhance your rail drink experience specifically, consider these tips:

  1. Premium Mixers: Elevate your well drinks by using high-quality mixers like ginger beer, artisanal tonic water, and orange liqueur. Freshly squeezed juices, like lemon or lime wedge, and grenadine can also add delightful flavors.
  2. Creative Garnishes: Get creative with garnishes to add visual appeal and aromatic notes to your well drinks. Experiment with citrus slices, fruit wedges, or even fresh herbs like mint to enhance the drinking experience in a chilled cocktail glass garnish or highball glass.
  1. Muddled Herbs and Fruits: Add depth of flavor to your well drinks by muddling fresh fruits like berries or cucumber and ginger beer. A splash of orange liqueur can also add a hint of spice and enhance the overall taste.
  2. Signature Combinations: Create your own signature well drinks by combining different well liquors like vodka fill, gin fill rest, and whiskey fill rest with sour mix and mixers like grenadine and ginger beer. Give them unique names to make the experience more memorable and personalized.
  3. Balanced Sweetness: Adjust the sweetness level of your well drinks with simple syrup or grenadine fill rest to suit your taste. Too much sweetness can overpower the flavors, so find the right balance.
  4. Temperature and Glassware: Serve your well drinks in chilled glassware like a rocks glass or highball glass to maintain freshness and enhance the drinking experience. Use appropriate glassware for each cocktail to showcase its unique characteristics, and add fresh ice to the glass.
  5. Gentle Stirring: For well drinks served over ice, gently stir the cocktail to blend the flavors without over-diluting the drink.
  1. Attentive Service: If you're at a bar, communicate your preferences to the bartender. A skilled bartender can tailor your rail drink with vodka fill and whiskey fill rest to suit your taste and make your experience more enjoyable.
  2. Pairing with Food: If you're having a rail drink with a meal, consider how the flavors of the drink and the food complement each other.

Remember, enhancing your well cocktails experience is all about creativity, attention to detail, and personal preferences. With a few tweaks and thoughtful additions like ice add whiskey, and a glass filled with fresh ice, you can transform a simple rail drink into a delightful and satisfying craft cocktail. Enjoy your drink journey, and cheers to making each rail drink, like one craft cocktail, a memorable one!

Now that you know what a Well and a Call drink is, check it out what WISK, the best bar inventory software can do to you bar!


Download the


cost control playbook

Don't settle for razor thin margins.

Managing your restaurant should be easy.