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Rail and well drinks are the same thing – an alcoholic drink served using lower-cost alcohol or liquors that are stored within easy reach of the bartender.

The “well” or “rail” refers to the counter or area where the bartender can quickly and easily access alcohol to make drinks.


What is a rail drink?

A rail drink is a drink made with non-premium liquors that are stored in the area closest to the bartender, known as “the rail”.

Rail drinks are also known as house drinks or well drinks. They are usually less expensive than premium drinks and are the standard drink options available in most bars and restaurants.

How to order a rail drink

A rail drink is usually served when a customer orders a drink but does not specify a particular brand of liquor for their drink. Rail drinks are also referred to as house drinks.

For example, if you ask the bartender for a gin and tonic, they will probably use the rail or house gin, versus ordering Hendrick’s and tonic where the bartender will use Hendrick’s, as specified.

Rail drinks are typically served in smaller glasses than other drink options. This helps the bar or restaurant to maintain profitability while still offering customers affordable drink options.

Barman at work.

How rail drinks are made?

Rail drinks are made by mixing non-premium liquors like vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and whiskey with mixers, e.g., soda, tonic, or juice. These liquors are often stored within easy reach of the bartender, and are used to make the majority of the drinks served.

Rail drinks are a cost-effective way for bars and restaurants to offer a variety of drink options to customers and still maintain profitability. They are often the go-to drink for customers looking to enjoy a drink without breaking the bank.


Difference between a rail drink and a call drink

“Call drink” and “rail drink” are terms used to order drinks at a bar or restaurant.

A “call drink” is a drink made with a specific brand of alcohol, such as Hennessy brandy, requested by the customer when placing their order.

For example, if a customer wants a vodka and tonic with a specific brand of vodka, they would ask for a “call vodka and tonic” and specify the brand of vodka they want, e.g., Grey Goose and tonic.

 A “rail drink” is a drink made with a cheap or basic brand of alcohol. If you ask the bartender for a “gin and tonic” without specifying a particular brand of gin, you will get a “rail gin and tonic” made with the cheapest or most basic gin available at the bar.

The price of call drinks is typically higher than rail drinks as they use higher quality, more expensive alcohol.

Read with confidence: I am WSET L2 Award in Spirits & Diagio Bar Academy certified.