I’ve had a home in Paris for 10 years, which means I’ve had the chance to frequent a lot of cafés, and here’s something I’ve noticed: Tourists peruse drink menus; locals do not.

Like so many things in France, there seems to exist an unwritten code of café drinks that varies by season, temperature, and time of day. Most cafés don’t even list these beverages on a menu. Instead, much like ordering beer at a pub, or a cup of coffee at a diner, they’re a cultural expectation.

Obviously, coffee and wine are café staples, and I’ve sipped my fair share of both. But over the years I’ve noticed a parade of other drinks—hot, cold, alcoholic, or not—ordered by all ages with brevity and insouciance. Curious, I sat down with my friend Alain Miquel, a Parisian café-owner, to learn more.

For over 30 years, Alain and his brother, Didier, have worked the bar at their café, Le Mistral, which their parents started in 1958. From the morning’s first coffee to the evening’s last Calvados, and everything in between, Alain has served it all. Today he describes the most popular café drinks and how to order them.

Words by Ann Mah at Food52

[Photo via @velvetcanyon]