Owning A Bar – Bar Tending – Drink Recipes

Bar Terms – Bar Words – Bar Lingo


Bar Terms – Bar Words – Bar Lingo


    • Back

      Usually a non-alcohol drink that you have in addition to your drink that has alcohol. The back would be a soda or glass of water. Some people consider a beer a back also.


    • Bar Spoon

      A special spoon made with a long skinny handle — used for stirring drinks or floating drinks.

      Some of these spoons have a fruit zester on the opposite end.


    • Blend

      Pouring ingredients into blender usually with ice. This is great for making Frozen Margarita’s and Milkshake type drinks — just remember the more ice you use the thicker the drink will be — but I know YOU knew that !!!


    • Box

      You pour everything into a shaker without ice — just so the ingredients blend together –You don’t shake this drink with ice.


    • Build

      This just means to make the drink — Fill glass with ice (if drink calls for ice) and make the drink– by pouring in all the ingredients (alcohol and soda or juices etc.) and then adding the garnish — simple as that.


    • Call

      Brand Name alcohol — not the well  drink stuff  — when a customer asks for a certain brand name alcohol and the customer might also prefer Coke over Pepsi etc.  Example, Jack Daniels and Coke — Keep in mind not all bars carry Coke and Pepsi etc.  Usually one or the other. FYI — It is pretty common for bars to carry only one brand name of soda or some just carry off brands of soda’s.


    • Chaser

      Whatever you drink after drinking a Shot — Can be a mixed drink or a soda or water, whatever you chase the shot with, especially if you want to erase the pain or taste of that shot you just had.


    • Chill

      Dip glass in water and put in Cooler or freezer. The old-Fashioned way is to fill glass with ice and add water — when You are ready to use the glass, just dump out the water and ice and you have a very chilled glass. You should always chill Martini Glasses.


    • Chug

      Drink all at once — some also call this  Shooting  the shot or shoot the shot.


    • Cloudy

      When a Martini has been shaken it gets that cloudy look — but it will disappear.


    • Cobbler

      A drink served with crushed or shaved ice in a highball or Collins glass — has Garnish of fruit or mint sprigs.


    • Cocktail

      A cocktail is a drink — made with the ingredients the recipe calls for and either poured into a glass that has ice in it already or a cocktail can be shaken in a shaker with ice then poured into glass of choice.


    • Dash

      Is just a few drops – around 1/8th or less of a teaspoon.


    • Dirty

      Olive Juice is added in the preparation of a Martini. There is also an Olive placed in the glass and sometimes even a couple more Olives on a fancy pick — dirtierdirtiest — is just adding more Olive Juice.


    • Dry

      Martini term — How much Vermouth is put in a Martini … the less Vermouth the drier the Martini — The more Vermouth the wetter the Martini.  For a really dry martini — you just add a drop of vermouth and shake it out then add Gin — I always found this so weird, yet Martini drinkers can be extremely picky and I mean picky.


    • Flame

      This is when you light a drink on fire — ignite — Be careful with this, it can be very dangerous. Never use a lighter … use matches to light the drink.

      151 Proof is usually the liquor that is used as it is very flammable. It is illegal to light drinks in bars in many places, so be sure you know the laws where you work and the possible dangers of lighting drinks.

      This is not something you would give to a person that is already tipsy, or drunk — that would NOT be a good idea — unless you want the risk of them getting burned or causing a fire or who knows what devastation could occur if this was to get in the hands of a pretty intoxicated individual — so be careful Please !!!

      ALSO — NEVER try pouring more 151 or any alcohol for that matter into drink after it has been lit !!!

      The horror stories I have heard of  bartenders doing this — well just don’t ever do this –this is why Bacardi 151 now has the little screens over the top so a spout can not be put on this bottle — Never take the screen off of a Bacardi 151 bottle either !!!

      OK enough lectures of the dangers of flaming a drink — I think you get the idea.


    • Float

      Pour the alcohol over the back of a spoon (back of spoon, faces up) so it floats on the top of the shot or drink — Some people don’t use a spoon they hold the nozzle on the inside of the glass (against the side of glass) and float the alcohol that way. It is pretty easy with a little practice. You can float several liquors on top of one another also – to make that cool layered look. Pour heaviest alcohol first to the lightest alcohol on the top.


    • Free Pore

      Pouring straight from the bottle — Using a count pour in your mind — such as — one thousand 1 – one thousand 2 – one thousand 3 — You don’t use any measuring device such as a jigger or a shot glass or any of those measured pour spouts. All bars have a certain way they allow pouring, some bars have measured pours, others have free pour — Free Pour will always be the customers favorite type of pour, of course !!!


    • Frost

      Dip glasses in water and place in freezer for awhile.

      This can be done to glass, metal or silver mugs.

      There are coolers specifically made for chilling glasses and they put a nice frost on the glasses such as beer mugs, beer glasses and pitchers.


    • Garnish

      Garnishes are put in drink or on drink for either decoration or to add to the flavor of a cocktail. The most common garnishes are Cherries, Lime or Lemon Wedges, Peels, Slices or Wheels and Olives.

      You can also decorate with fruit in many ways such as spirals or placing fruit on a fancy pick.


    • Jigger

      An ounce, ounce and a half of alcohol.


    • Lace

      Is like floating liquor or lacing a glass with something before pouring in alcohol, such as decorating the glass with Chocolate Syrup.


    • Layer

      See Float — When layering remember to pour heaviest alcohol first then the next lighter weight alcohol and so on.


    • Mist

      Poured over crushed ice.


    • Mixer

      This is what you are adding to the cocktail other than the alcohol used — such as Juice, Soda, Water etc.


    • Mixing

      Always put ice in shaker first, then alcohol and anything else you need to put in, then shake or stir drink — or strain drink into glass without shaking or stirring ingredients — this just chills the drink nicely. The less time ingredients are in the ice the less the drink is diluted.


    • Muddle

      To muddle something such as a mint leaf or any herb you are using — you use a Muddler, and you mash the herb with it in the glass. Muddler’s can be purchased in several places, bar supply stores have a variety of them.

      Some are made of wood and others are on the end of some bar spoons.


    • Neat or Plain

      Nothing added to alcohol — such as a shot of Whiskey poured straight from the bottle into the glass.


    • On the Rocks

      Poured over ice.


    • Peel

      A small strip of peel cut from the fruit.


    • Pony

      One ounce of alcohol.


    • Premium

      See Super Call.


    • Press

      When someone asks for a Press — such as a Bourbon Press — Press comes from pressing the soda gun buttons — a press is after pouring in the alcohol, you put in half 7-up or Sprite and half Club Soda.


    • Rim

      Rim the glass with Salt or Sugar or Chocolate etc. For dry ingredients,  first wet the glass with Lime Juice or whatever you are using. Then you rim the outside lip of the glass, as you don’t want a bunch of the salt or sugar falling into the glass. Always make sure the Salt Rimmer or Sugar Rimmer is clean and has fresh salt or sugar. Salt Rimmers can get nasty real fast, so clean daily or even more often than that.

      See Chocolate Martini for ideas on rimming your glass … there really are so many ways you can rim a glass, from crushed candies to peanut butter and even with different types of sweet or spicy hot spices.


    • Roll

      Fill glass with ice – make the drink – pour into shaker- pour back into glass.


    • Shaken

      Pour ingredients into shaker that contains ice and shake until very chilled

      The longer the drink is shaken, the more little ice crystal chips the drink will have in it.


    • Shake and Strain

      Pour ingredients into shaker with ice, shake well and then strain into glass


    • Shaken Not Stirred

      Usually refers to Martini’s –Martini’s should be stirred not shaken, but there are some folks that prefer the ice chips that result from shaking the drink


    • Shaker or Mixing Cup/Glass

      A shaker is used to shake drinks with ice or stir drinks — it has two parts that go together so you can shake the drink until icy cold. Shakers come in many styles and sizes


    • Shot

      Same as Neat –Has straight alcohols — not mixed with juice or anything — usually drank all at once in one gulp — chugged


    • Shoot

      Same as Chug — to drink all at once — this is how many people drink shots — they don’t just sip it, they chug it or shoot it all at once


    • Shooter

      Has juice or cream added to the alcohol, but is still considered a shot and is very often drank all at once like a shot


    • Sink

      When a recipe calls to sink a certain liquor — all it means is that liquor needs to sink to the bottom of the drink. In order to sink a liquor — when you are layering a drink, hold the spout up against the inside of the glass and slowly pour and hopefully the liquor is heavy enough to sink to the bottom.

      Practice makes perfect !!!


    • Snit

      3 fl. ounces


    • Splash

      A splash is right around 1/4 oz. Not more than 1/2 oz.


    • Stir

      Stirring keeps the drink from getting ice chips. Martini’s are usually stirred and not shaken. Never stir to long as this really dilutes the drink.  Just stir gently and long enough to blend ingredients and then strain into glass.


    • Straight Up

      Chilled with ice then strained into glass — such as a Martini or a Kamikaze.


    • Super Call

      Is the really good Brand Name Alcohols — the really pricey high quality alcohol.


    • Toddy

      A sweetened drink made with Alcohol, Hot Water and different spices  — sometimes a pad of butter is added.  Example: Hot Toddy



    • Top Shelf

      Same as Super Call — the best of the best.

      High quality alcohol — the pricier alcohols.


    • Twist

      A piece of Citrus peel such as Lime, Lemon or Orange that you twist before dropping into drink or you can twist then rub along rim of glass – then drop into drink.

      Twists are made by removing the peel from the fruit discard the fruit and slice the peel into thin strips.


    • Up

      Same as Straight Up.


    • Virgin Drink

      A drink with NO alcohol.


    • Wedge

      Fruit cut into Wedges.


    • Well Drink

      The Cheaper house alcohol — Not a brand name and usually much cheaper than call liquors.

      Sometimes this is what is used if a customer doesn’t ask for a brand name.


    • Wet or Dry

      Martini term — How much Vermouth is put into a Martini … the less Vermouth the drier the Martini — The more Vermouth the wetter the Martini. For a really dry martini — you just add a drop of vermouth and shake it out then add Gin — I always found this so weird, yet Martini drinkers can be extremely picky and I mean picky.


    • Wheel

      Sliced fruit and left to look like a wheel (complete circle) not cut in half — slice on one side to be able to put on rim of glass.


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25 Responses to Bar Terms – Bar Words – Bar Lingo

  • Being an old country hick, I can darn shur tell ya: Two fingers of whisky ain’t a lot, till ya start drinking it from a horse tank. ????

  • This is some really good info for writers digest…

  • in the old days….you say a twist for lemon and a ? for lime…anyone remember what was used to designate lime twist?

    • Typically a lemon twist and a lime squeeze. I think this is just a poduct of how they are used. Lemons have a meatier skin, which lets out the juices when twisted. Lemon twists are often used to add flavor while acting as a garnish. Limes skins on the other hand don’t let out much citrus oil when twisted, so you typically drop the “twist” or peel into the glass, and give the fruit a “squeez” to add the lime flavor.

  • My husband and I were visiting our son in college recently and I don’t know how we got on the subject of drinking shots. My husband and I called it Doing Shots n my son and a few of his college buddies called it Taking Shots. I would like to know the correct way of saying. We think their wrong n they think we’re wrong! So which is it!

    • Hi Ghada
      hahahahh This is so funny. I guess this is a generation thing. My husband and I agree with you and call it doing shots. I personally have never heard of taking shots. Must be a new thing. hahhahahah Thanks so much for this comment. It is great. OK anybody out there have an opinion on this please feel free.
      Thanks for great comment

  • whats it called when you make a drink straight up then stir it in glass with fresh ice and thank you for ur info

    • Not quite sure what you are speaking of, but I would call that roll or on the rocks ??? Hmmm you will have to read the list on this page — but I think one of those is what you mean?

  • I saw your list and was wondering why you left out the term “snit” ?

    • Hi Matthew —
      I guess that is one that I never used in the business, However; I will put that in.
      I know it is a measurement of 3 fl. ounces or 88.72 mL. I am sure I left out many terms that bars may use on occasion. i just tried to put the terms that are used quite a bit. Thanks for the help though. I think I will go put it in my list right now — Just for you Matthew.
      Take Care,

  • There is a constant debate at the restaurant I work…
    What do you consider (in ounces) when talking about scotches neat vs double and how would you come up with customer cost? I have used your cost calculator but I believe there should be a sliding scale for higher end spirits. Do you agree?
    Some say two fingers is considered to be 2 oz so if they wanted a Chivas 18yr neat they would receive 2 oz of booze. What if they order a Chivas double neat? I am in the understanding that a “double” does not mean literally twice the amount. If that would be true the guest would receive 4 oz of Chivas at 2x the original cost.

    • Hi Mark —
      Phew this is a loaded question and YES one that would be argued about a lot.
      I can only tell you how I charged and many may not agree. My bartenders poured by the ounce (a 3 count) and the customer was charged for each oz. If you want a double — you paid for a double. (Keep in mind — I am sure a double was always a bit more with the count 3 pour — BUT hopefully not to much more for those expensive high end liquors. This is where that good honest bartender helps ever so much!!!!!!!)
      I also agree that some do not consider a double actually two full shots. But in my place if you ordered a double you got a true double.
      My thinking is — treat your customers right and they will be back.

      Now as for the sliding scale — to me this is tricky to answer. I always considered the customer on pricing. If I had great regular — well of course he will get extras. He is great for the business and can be treated as such. Do you know what I mean? Every situation differed for me.

      Anyone have some advice to this question — please help us out here. Thanks so Much!!!
      Thank You Mark for this great question.

  • What do you call it when you have scotch on the rocks and you let it set until the ice has melted some?

    • Hi Julie
      I have to admit, I do not know.
      I do know when you use a large piece of ice in Whiskey and the ice melts a little, they call that letting the whiskey bloom. Other than that it is not ringing a bell with me.
      Let me know if you find out OK??
      Thanks for stopping by

  • Hi……ryan….m totally agree with you…n.i appreciate that….u have a gud knowledge abt ….alcoholic drinks….

  • how do you price sodas and juices

  • Admin you are 100% Correct

    Neat/Shot/Straight Up has nothing to do with glassware.

    Neat or Shot typically refers to a undiluted shot of liquor served at room temperature.
    Up or Straight Up is usually used to describe a drink that is chilled with ice (shaken or stirred) and strained into a glass (typically a cocktail glass).
    Straight is where things get really confusing because drinkers use it in two different ways. Some use when they order a straight pour of darker spirits (e.g. bourbon straight, which would mean neat) while some use it to mean a white spirit chilled and served in a cocktail glass (e.g. vodka chilled, which would mean up).

    • Hi Dee
      Thanks for info — sounds correct to me. I had many years in the bar business, and there are so many different ways that people are taught etc. Your input is very appreciated. Thanks for stopping by, and for this excellent explanation of the differences in shots etc.
      Take Care,

  • Neat and a shot are not the same thing. Neat is poured in an old fashioned glass while a shot is poured in a shot glass.

    • Hi Ryan

      I am not going to argue over the size of glass and difference, however neat basically means no ice.
      If it also means a difference in glass size, well that is news to me. You learn something new everyday. I will be sure to research this. haha All I know is when the old timers would come into my bar, they would order their shots neat. We poured that into a shot glass or sometimes a rocks glass.
      Thanks for your comment, you have given me something new to research and write about.

      Take Care,

    • Neat simply means not chilled ryan, wheras a shot can be room temp or chilled. Also neat is for someone who will be taking their time and enjoying their drink as opposed to downing or “shooting” it all at once. As far as glasses it is just easier to shoot out of a shot glass rather than sip or drink it neat and it is more convenient to drink your neat out of an old fashion than it is to shoot even though you could if you wanted.It is all about convenience.

  • Way Cool ! You rock !! Was always fun to work with you, I had a blast ! : )

  • Awesome site you have here. I can tell a lot of work went into it. Great to see a valuable resource on the Web for bartenders. Happy Drinking!

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