On the Line / Menu + Food / What is a Rail Drink?

What is a Rail Drink?

Here is a deep dive into the history of rail drinks, and the benefits to adding a rail drink menu to your restaurant.

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A rum and coke, vodka cranberry, or gin and tonic are all bar classics – and also make up some of the most ordered rail drinks. Rail drinks help maximize revenue while minimizing costs (and also tend to be the most popular thing ordered at a bar.) 

Here is some more information on what a rail drink is, why it’s important, and how to build rail drinks into your restaurant or bar menu. 

What is a rail drink?

A rail drink, also known as a “well drink” or a “house drink”, is a mixed drink made with less expensive, lower-tier liquor. Rail mixed drinks are named after a bartender’s “speed rail”, the area or rack right in front of the bartender that holds the most used liquor and mixers, for easy access. 

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What is considered a rail drink? 

Any simple mixed drink made with low-cost liquor is considered a rail drink. Here are some of the most common rail drinks you’ll see at any bar: 

  • Rum and coke

  • Gin and tonic 

  • Vodka cranberry 

  • Screwdriver

  • Vodka soda

  • Whiskey sour

  • Tequila sunrise 

  • Paloma

  • Long island iced tea 

For more ideas of popular rail drinks and instructions on how to make them, check out this post. 

How much alcohol is in a rail drink? 

Like most mixed drinks, there is typically the amount of alcohol as one “standard” drink. For mixed drinks, this is typically 1.5 fluid ounces of liquor, or 1 shot. But this can change depending on the recipe. For example, a long island iced tea typically has much more alcohol, around 3 - 4 oz per drink, due to the five different types of liquor in the drink.

What are the benefits of a rail drink list? 

Here are some benefits of creating a rail drinks list at your restaurant.  

High-profit margins  

Lower cost ingredients, combined with higher sales, means that your rail drinks will be huge profit drivers for your bar or restaurant. Drinks typically have the best profit margin out of anything on a restaurant menu, and rail drinks take full advantage of this perk. 

Easy preparation 

Rail drinks are quick and easy for your bartenders to make. With only a couple of ingredients, rail drinks can be made super quickly – making your bartender’s life easier, and more money going to your business. 

Guests love them 

Rail drinks are incredibly popular amongst guests. They are an affordable and reliable drink option, and many people’s go-to when at a bar.

Rail drinks for everyone!

Rail drinks are a great way to increase your restaurant’s profit margin, while making both your guests and staff happy. For more information on how to optimize your rail drink menu, check out this post. 


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