When a bar runs out of martini glasses, it's usually a good sign that the drinks are a hot commodity.
That's what happened to Eric Crano about three or four weeks ago at Rosetta Stone in Youngstown during rush hour.
"We were just out of them completely," Crano said of the glasses. At the time, he looked around and saw people at the bar and at the tables consuming martinis. And they weren't all of the female persuasion, either.
A lot of men drink martinis, Crano said. "I think it's a little bit more acceptable," he said. No fruity mixes for these guys, though. About 95 percent of them drink vodka martinis, or Crown Royale Manhattans, Crano said.
The popularity of the martini at Rosetta Stone in Youngstown may be a tell-tale sign that the cocktail has made a comeback.
Sarah Barbato, the night manager at Rosetta Stone, said the restaurant probably makes about $6,000 to $7,000 per week in cocktails.
She attributes some of the cocktail popularity to the weather. In the summer, customers order drinks that are fruitier, while in the winter they drink more wine.
"They'll opt for a dirty martini instead of a Fly-Me-to-the-Bahamas," she said.
Weather also plays a big part in what gets served up at Imbibe Martini Bar.
Kerry Bresnahan, operations and marketing coordinator for the Youngstown bar, said that when the weather gets warmer, Imbibe stocks up on Corona. In anticipation of high temperatures, the bar also came up with its new Sweet Tea Martini: Sweet tea, vodka and limoncello.
"People have really taken to that," Bresnahan said.
Like Barbato, Bresnahan said she noticed that customers request lighter, fruitier drinks when it's warmer outside.
"You see a definite change in the drinks that are ordered as the season changes," she said.
Though the bartenders may learn about new drinks simply from customer requests, a significant amount of effort goes into keeping current with trends.
Often, bars take their cues from bigger cities.
One of the owners of Imbibe lives in Cleveland, so he's able to learn about new drinks from the venues in his hometown, Bresnahan said.
Similarly, Crano said he browses the Internet and reads wine magazines to stay current. Often, he puts a new spin on what he reads about, he said.
While bigger cities like Miami, New York and San Diego are often associated with setting trends, other areas also provide inspiration.
Crano, for instance, is in awe of a bartender in Western Pennsylvania.
"I swear the guy is just like a magician with some of the stuff that he comes up with," he said.
Still, despite the wide variety of possibilities, sometimes customers just want something simple.
At Cleats Club Seat Grill in Warren, most of the bar sales come from draft inventory, said manager Nicole Drnek.
Though the bar sells basics like rum and coke and vodka and cranberry, they don't sell anything "too crazy and complicated," Drnek said.
Customers usually know what they want, Drnek said, though occasionally customers, normally women, ask for a drink menu.
Cleats has about eight to 10 cocktail recipes that customers order occasionally, Drnek said. There are an additional eight to 10 cocktails in the menu insert, which is changed monthly. She estimated that Cleats sells 20 to 30 cocktails off the drink menu in any given week.
There's a similar situation at Quinlan's in Niles.
While beer is the bar's biggest seller, it isn't the only thing that customers ask for.
Quinlan's offers themed cocktails, like the Raspberry Pickler and Dublin Tea, a twist on the Long Island Iced Tea, said owner Joan Quinlan.
"The cocktails go," she said.
Though Greg Bastounis can't speak for any cocktail popularity at The Horseshoe, where he both manages and bartends, he did say that certain drinks or liquors become trendy.
Jager, Southern Comfort and Lime, and the Washington Apple, for instance, were once hugely popular.
"They're always looking for something new," Bastounis said of customers.
Now, hot items seem to be cherry bombs, blue raspberry vodka, Captain and Coke, and anything with high-end tequilas, like Patrone, Bastounis said.
"We all go through phases," he said.
People also ask for flavored vodkas and premium light beers that are less than 100 calories, he said.
Sometimes calories can be a factor in customers' decisions.
Micele Sturm, originally from Cortland, now living in northern Kentucky, said she usually sticks to liquors that can be mixed with diet soda.
"I'm a martini girl," she said.
For Heather Dekach of Cortland, drink decisions vary according to one thing.
"It depends on what kind of day it was," Dekach said. If it's a good day, Dekach orders Smirnoff Twisted Grape. A bad day finds her with a Hairy Navel in her hand.
Chuck Eggleston also can be considered a creature of habit.
Eggleston, of Warren, said he either chooses a Bud Light or cherry vodka and Red Bull. The latter has some flavor while delivering some energy, said Eggleston, of Warren.
"It's my late-night coffee," he said.