Bar Terminology

Ever been siting at the bar and been lost in translation when the bartender/customer opens his mouth? Don’t worry, at one time or another everyone has scratched their head at a term they hear in the bar. Below is a list of several “key” bar words along with their meanings. There are mostly standard terms throughout the industry. Any good bar tender, or regular bar patron should know them in or out.

Back -A drink (usually water or a soda), to go with your main drink.

Box– Pour into and out of a shaker, usually only once. Gives the drink a quick mixing without shaking.

Call Drink – A liquor and mixer, of which the liquor is a defined brand. (ie., Bacardi and Coke, Crown & Ginger)

Cobbler – A tall drink of any liquor served in a Highball or Collins glass with ice and garnished with fresh fruit and mint sprigs.

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

Cocktail – Any of various alcoholic beverages consisting usually of brandy, whiskey, vodka, or gin combined with fruit juices or other liquors and often served chilled.

Cooler – A drink consisting of ginger ale, soda water, and a fresh spiral or twist of citrus fruit rind, served in a Collins or highball glass.

Cup – A punch-type drink that made up in quantities of cups or glasses in preference to a punch bowl.

Daisy – An oversize drink of the sour type, normally made with rum or gin. It is served over crushed ice with a straw, and sweetened with a fruit syrup.

Double – Double the amount of booze you’re pouring.

Lace – Normally applies to the last ingredient in a recipe, meaning to pour onto the top of the drink.

Fix – A sour-type drink similar to the daisy, made with crushed ice in a large goblet.

Fizz – An effervescent beverage. (ie. that which is carbonated or which emits small bubbles.)

Flip – A chilled, creamy drink made of eggs, sugar, and a wine or spirit. Brandy and sherry flips are two of the better known kinds.

Frappé – A partially frozen, often fruity drink. It is usually a mixture of ingredients served over a mound of crushed ice.

Grog – A rum-based beverage with water, fruit juice and sugar, commonly served in a large mug.

Highball – Any spirit served with ice and soda water in a medium to tall glass (often a highball glass).

House – The spirit(s) you serve in your establishment

Julep – A drink made of bourbon, mint, sugar and crushed ice.

Lowball – A short drink made of spirits served with ice, water or soda in a small glass.

Mist – A liquor served over a glass filled with crushed ice, often a way of serving liqueur as an after dinner drink.

Neat – The consumption of a spirit as a straight, unaccompanied shot.

Negus – A punch-like combination containing a wine, such as port, heated with spices and sweetened.

Nip – A quarter of a bottle.

Nightcap – A wine or liquor taken before bedtime.

On The Rocks – A wine or liquor poured over ice cubes.

Pick-Me-Up – A drink designed to relieve the effects of overindulgence in alcohol.

Pour – How decent/strong a bar’s drinks are or, more often, how large and well poured a bar’s draft beers are.

Puff – A traditional afternoon drink made of equal parts spirit and milk, topped with club soda and served over ice.

Punch – A party-size beverage consisting of fruit, fruit juices, flavorings and sweeteners, soft drinks, and a wine or liquor base.

Rickey – A drink made a liquor, usually gin, a half lime and soda water. It is sometimes sweetened, and often served with ice in a rickey glass.

Rinse – Swirling a small amount of liquor or liqueur in a glass so that it coats the inside with the spirit’s flavor

Sangria – A tall chilled and sweetened wine/liquor garnished with nutmeg.

Shooter – A straight shot of whiskey or other kind of spirit taken neat.

Shrub – Spirits, fruit juices, and sugar, aged in a sealed container such as a cask or crock, then usually bottled.

Sling – A tall drink made with either brandy, whiskey or gin, with lemon juice, sugar and soda water. It is served both hot and cold.

Smash – A short julep made of liquor, sugar, and mint, served in a small glass.

Sour – A short drink consisting of liquor, lemon/lime juice and sugar.

Straight – No additions, just the called for liquor.

Supercall – Also known as top shelf or super premium. The high octane, often higher proof alcohols, or super-aged or flavored versions.

Swizzle – A tall, traditionally rum-based cocktail filled with cracked ice. A stirring rod or swizzle stick is quickly rotated between the palm of the hands to form frost on the glass.

Syllabub – A beverage made from a mixture of sweetened milk/cream, wine and spices.

Toddy – A sweetened drink of liquor and hot water, often with spices and served in a tall glass.

Tot – A small amount of liquor.

Twist – A small twist of citrus fruit .

Up – Chilled, but no ice .

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