Drink menus can be riddled with countless terms that are confusing and therefore put you off ordering something new. We’ve compiled a list of common bar terms that will help make you more confident when placing your next drink order.
Spirits are unsweetened alcoholic beverages that have above 20% alcohol content.
Liqueurs are mixed with herbs and spices to amplify flavour.
If it is alcoholic, it’s a liquor.
Divide whatever number the proof is in half and you have the percentage alcohol content of the liquor. For example, 100 proof liquor has 50% alcohol content.
This is a unit of measurement for alcohol. A shot is equal to 1.5 fluid ounces. You can double, triple or quadruple it as you see fit.
These drinks are the cheaper, simple drinks that often consist of a liquor and a mixer. Though not enough to regard them a cocktail, these drinks are classic in their own right and an easy way to order if you like to keep it simple. Examples are a gin and tonic, or a rum and coke.
A cocktail technically means anything that contains two or more ingredients with one being alcohol.
These shot-sized alcoholic beverages are consumed prior to eating a meal. Their purpose is to stimulate hunger and they usually have earthy flavours (e.g., vermouth, gin and martinis).
A digestif is meant to help with digestion and is meant to be consumed after a meal. They tend to be heavier and sweeter than aperitifs.
Your choice of alcohol simply is poured into a tumbler or shot glass.
On the rocks
‘The rocks’ = ice. A drink on the rocks consists of a liquor poured over ice.
A straight-up drink is a liquor either shaken or stirred with ice then strained and served without the ice. The result is a chilled and undiluted drink.
Shaken vs. Stirred
Both methods are intended to chill your drink. However, a shaken drink is more diluted and has a frothier consistency than one that is stirred. In general, mixed drinks are often shaken and cocktails containing distilled spirits and light mixers are stirred.
This means a drink mixed with the juice from bar olives, giving it a salty, briny taste. This term is most often used when ordering martinis.
This indicates that you want the drink mixed with a small amount of vermouth, giving just a slight flavour of vermouth to the alcohol. This term is usually used with drinks made of gin or vodka.
It contains no alcohol of any kind.
Muddled means the ingredients (often herbs, fruits or spices) are mashed against a hard, flat surface with a muddler to infuse or mix the flavours before adding them to the drink. This allows for a more complex and refined flavour in a drink.
A splash of something (i.e., cranberry juice) is used to enhance flavour, not overpower.
Sours are drinks that are mixed with lemon or lime juice, a sweetener and a liquor.
Bitters are plant-based liquids mixed with water and alcohol that are used in various cocktails. Bitters have a concentrated flavour, so they are used in small doses to enhance a drink’s flavour.
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