Bartending Terms

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Want to learn the language of bartending. These are the most common bartending terms.

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Back: A back is a non-alcoholic drink served alongside a shot or a strong drink. Backs are also sometimes called chasers. Sometimes a small beer served alongside a shot is considered a back. A good bartender will always serve a water back with a strong drink like a martini straight up.

Chaser: A mixer that is consumed immediately after a straight shot of liquor to create a different taste.

Collins: Type of sour that is served in a tall glass with ice and soda water. An examples are Tom Collins.

Dash: A few drops of an ingredient are considered a dash. A dash is usually 1/16 of an ounce or less. The most common drink recipes that use a dash are bitters for Old Fashioned, hot sauces for Bloody Marys, and olive brine for Dirty Martinis

Frost: A glass is frosted when it has been dipped in water, and then frozen. This process leaves a thin layer of frost on the glass and is suitable for serving cold beverages. Use frosted glasses when serving drinks in stemmed cocktail glasses. Frosted beer glasses are popular but the frosting kills most of the taste of the beer.

Garnish: A garnish is something of an ornamental fixture served on the rim of the glass or in the glass. Examples of garnishes are olives for martinis and pearl onions for the Gibson Martinis. Fruit and parts of fruit are used as garnishes in many drinks to enhance their appearance. They include maraschino cherries for Manhattans and many other drinks that use sweet fruit juice.

Highball: A highball is any liquor beverage served with ice and soda in a tall glass. The original highball was 1 oz. American Whiskey and ginerale.soda.

Jigger: A jigger is used to measure approximately an ounce to an ounce and a half of alcohol. Jiggers come in various sizes and the size markings are always engraved on the outside of the cone.

Layered: A layered drink has the different liquors in layers, usually with the heaviest ones at the bottom. It’s usually served in a shot glass. The drink is served unmixed. You can check our density charts that show the specific gravity of the spirit. Shots have become a popular type of drink with many of them using sweet liquors and fruit juices.

Mist: A mist is an alcohol poured over crushed ice. The crushed ice will chill the drink ingredients quicker. The most ordered is the Scotch mist.

Mixer: Mixers are non-alcoholic beverages that are used in cocktails along with alcohol. Examples of drinks using mixers are rum and coke, scotch and water. Any liquor can be called with any mixer depending on the customers preference.

Neat: When a drink is served neat, it is poured into a glass with no ice or mixers. It is usually served in a shot glass.

On the rocks: The proverbial rocks are ice cubes and a drink served on the rocks is simply a beverage served over a tumbler of ice. Often, the drink is prepared “up” and then is strained over the rocks.

Pony: A pony is equal to one ounce. This term is seldom used.

Salt: Several mixed drinks, for example the margarita, should be served with salt on the rim of the glass. To salt the rim of a glass, rub a cut lemon or lime around the rim and then dip the glass into rock or kosher salt. If no fresh limes or lemons are available, use Rose’s Lime Juice.

Shaking: Some drinks are served shaken, not stirred. Use a cocktail shaker to blend the drink; shaking about 10 times is adequate for most drinks. Drink recipes that use cream, milk or fruit juices are usually shaken by bartenders. The shaking thoroughly mixes the ingredients for a consistent taste.

Splash: A small amount of mixer added to a drink is a splash. Examples of bartenders using a splash in mixed drink recipes are the Long Island Ice Tea that uses a splash of sour mix and cola.

Shot: It has two definitions. The first is a particular type of small glass that hold a measured amount of liquor. Shot glasses common in various sizes from ounce to 2 ounces. There is no standard size glass. The second definition is a drink type that is meant to be drunk in a single gulp.

Shooter: A straight shot of whiskey or other kind of spirit taken neat Also the name of type of drink using various liquors served in a shooter glass without ice.

Sour: A short drink consisting of liquor, lemon/lime juice and sugar. Examples are Whiskey Sour and a Margarita. Bartenders usually use a commercial sour mix rather than fresh fruit juices.

Super call or Premium call: Usually expensive liquor the customer request.

Twist: A bit of lemon or orange peel that is rubbed on the edge of a glass. Sometimes the twist is dropped into the drink. This is a popular garnish for gin and vodka martinis.

Topless: Drinks that are usually served with the rim of the glass with salt or sugar, the salt and the sugar won’t be added to the rim of the glass.

Up or straight up: A drink served up should be mixed with ice, for example in a cocktail shaker, but then strained so there is no ice in the drink when it is served cold. Up drinks are served in stemmed cocktail glass that should be pre-chilled. The pre-chilling allows the drink to stay cold longer.