I'm turning 21 in a few weeks and will be taken out by my boyfriend and another couple. They are all older than I am, but are all mainly beer drinkers. I, on the other hand, am more interested in mixed drinks. My drinking experience up until now is limited to drinks made by friends (often with the dreaded HFCS-laden mixers) and the occasional restaurant cocktail here and there, so I don't really know where to start. What I'm hoping to get here is a list of cocktails that would be made with real, fresh ingredients (I'm not sure how common drink mixes are at bars) that tend toward the sweeter side of things but which I can reasonably expect an average bartender, at an average bar, to make well. I've read the "girly drinks" thread and I'm guessing (though I could be wrong) that many of those drinks will be foreign to the average bartender at a reasonably affordable bar in LA. I'd like to develop a palate for the more sophisticated, less "collegey" drinks but I don't think I'm there yet.
Drinks I currently enjoy include the dark and stormy, (though I think I make it a bit light on the rum), white russians, mojitos, and freshly made margaritas. I enjoyed the Veev acai liqueur recently, and I also like absinthe (the American kind). I'm ashamed to admit it but I enjoy butterscotch schnapps (Buttershots) diluted with milk.
I can't stand the taste of Chambord, don't like appletinis and I don't like sweet & sour mix. The only liquor I've enjoyed the flavor of straight is tequila, but with the brands allowed by my and my friends' budgets I don't think that's surprising.