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Glossary of Bar Terms

Amaretto— An Italian liqueur made from grapes steeped with 17 herbs and fruits, including apricot kernel oil. 56-proof.

Anisette— A sweet, aromatic, licorice-flavored liqueur. 50- to 60-proof.

Aquavit (aka Akvavit)— A traditional Scandinavian spirit distilled from grain or potatoes and flavored principally with caraway seeds. 84- to 90-proof.

Armagnac— A full-bodied brandy made only in the French province of Gascony with a distinctively robust bouquet and lively fruit flavor. 80- to 86-proof.

Back— A bartending term for an iced glass of water or other alcohol-free beverage served in addition to the cocktail or mixed drink which was ordered; e.g. Martini, water back.

Backbar— The area of a commercial bar, located behind the bartender’s workstation, used for displaying liquor bottles, storing glassware and housing the bar’s refrigeration units.

Bar Mat— see Pour Mat.

Bar Mix— The lesser-known name for sweetened lemon juice or lemon sour mix. See Lemon Sour Mix.

Bar Spoon— A long, spiral-handled spoon used in the preparation of stirred cocktails served straight up; capacity is normally 1 tsp.

Bitters— Aromatic, herbal compounds that are primarily bitter to the taste and often used in the preparation of cocktails. The three most popular types of bitters in mixology are Angostura Bitters from Trinidad, Peychaud’s Bitters from New Orleans and orange bitters (brands include Fee’s Orange Bitters and Regan’s Orange Bitters #6).

Blend— A preparation technique in which drink ingredients are combined until smooth and of a uniform consistency using an electric blender.

Blue Curaçao— A blue-colored orange-flavored liqueur made from dried orange peels and slightly sweeter than triple sec. 60-proof.

Bourbon Whiskey— A full-bodied and full-flavored American straight whiskey distilled from fermented corn mash and to a lesser degree, from rye, wheat and barley, aged a minimum of 2-years in new, charred oak casks. 80- to 126-proof.

Brandy— A distilled spirit produced from grapes or a fermented mash of fruit. Brandies are usually barrel-aged, although some are bottled unaged and clear; such as, grappa and grape eau-de-vie. 80-proof and higher.

Build in Glass— A bar term used for combining the ingredients of a drink recipe directly into the glass in which it is served.

Cachaça— A Brazilian spirit distilled from freshly pressed sugar cane juice. 80-proof.

Calvados— An apple brandy produced in Normandy, France, distilled in pot stills from a mash of fermented cider apples and aged in oak casks. 80-proof.

Canadian Whisky— By law, Canadian whiskies must be comprised of a blend of spirits distilled exclusively from grain, such as, corn, rye and barley, they’re Champagnetypically light-bodied and aged 6–8 years in oak casks. 80- to 86-proof and higher.

Champagne— A sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France, made from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes, made effervescent through a process called méthode champenoise.

Coconut Cream (aka Coconut Cream Syrup)— A sweet, viscous, coconut-flavored product made from the milk and meat of coconuts used primarily in the preparation of Piña Coladas and Chi-Chi’s.

Cognac— An alembic distilled brandy made in the region centered around Jarnac, France and aged in Limousin oak casks. Cognacs are identified by their appellation; such as Petite Champagne or Grande Champagne cognac. Fine Champagne cognacs are a blend of Petite Champagne or Grande Champagne cognacs. 80-proof.

Cordial— A term used synonymously with liqueur.

Crème de Cacao— A liqueur flavored with cocoa and vanilla beans, produced in both a light (clear) and dark (brown) version, with little or no difference other than color. 50- to 60-proof.

Crème de Cassis— A liqueur flavored with black currants. 40-proof.

Crème de Menthe— A cordial flavored by various varieties of mint, principally peppermint, produced in green and white (clear) versions, the only difference being color. 60-proof.

Double strain— A preparation technique used of filtering a drink through a fine sieve, when pouring the drink into the service glass to remove any particulates from the finished drink.

Dry Vermouth— Most closely associated with France and made from a blend of white wines and aged for 2-3 years in oak casks, most often used as a flavoring agent in martinis and manhattans or as an aperitif (red). After blending, the wine is infused with botanicals and fortified with grape spirits to 19% abv.

BlenderFifth— The term once used for a liquor bottle ontaining one-fifth of a gallon or 25.6 fl. oz. The metric equivalent of a fifth is the 750ml bottle (25.4 oz).

Flash Blend— A preparation technique in which drink ingredients are poured into an iced blender canister, after which the blender is turned on for only 3-5 seconds yielding a frothy, partially frozen drink.

Float— A mixology term for a product that is poured on top of a drink; done to enhance a drink’s presentation. The floated product is frequently the heaviest product in the recipe and darker in color than the rest of the drink.

Frappé— The name for a drink consisting of a liqueur served over crushed ice with a short straw; e.g. Créme de Menthe Frappé.

Free Pour— A bartending term for the technique of pouring liquor without measuring; usually a jigger or shot glass is used as a measuring device.

Gin— A liquor made from redistilling neutral grain spirits with aromatics and botanicals, including: juniper berries; caraway; anise and coriander seeds; lemon and orange peels; angelica and orris roots. 80- to 110-proof.

Ginger Beer— A ginger-flavored, non-alcoholic carbonated beverage.

Grappa— A colorless, unaged brandy distilled from the remnants of the winemaking process.

Grenadine— A bright red, non-alcoholic syrup flavored with pomegranates.

Hand Shake— A drink preparation technique involving the use of a mixing set (mixing glass and tin) or a shaker. See Drink Preparation.

Iced— A mixology term used in drink recipes to denote any glass involved in the preparation of a drink that needs to be filled with ice.

Irish Whiskey— A whiskey made from a fermented mash of malted and/or unmalted barley, lesser amounts of other cereal grains; triple-distilled in pot stills and aged in used Jiggerbourbon, sherry or port casks. Irish whiskeys are full-bodied and possess a smooth, malty flavor. 80- to 90-proof.

Jigger— (1) A liquid measurement equaling 1 ½ oz. (2) The bar term used for a hand-held measuring device.

Lemon Sour Mix (aka sweetened lemon juice, bar mix, sweet ‘n’ sour, Margarita mix)— A drink mix comprised of lemon juice, sugar and water; it can be purchased prepared or made from scratch.

Lime Sour Mix (aka sweetened lime juice, lime bar mix, Margarita mix)— A drink mix comprised of lime juice, sugar and water. Lime sour mix is most often used in Margaritas and Daiquiris.

Lime Wheel— A garnish made by cutting a cross-section of a fresh lime into a slice about ¼ in. thick. Cut a small slit through the rind and it can be placed easily on the rim of a glass.

Liqueur— A product made by redistilling, macerating or steeping spirits with fruit, herbs, spices, seeds, flowers, plants or other various flavoring agents. Liqueurs are sweetened for palatability and range in alcohol content from 15-60% abv.

Liquor— A distilled spirit, typically with an alcohol content of 35-75.5% abv.

Liter— A volume of fluid equal to 33.8 oz.; the metric equivalent of a quart.

Mist— A mixology term for a liquor served over crushed (or flaked) ice; e.g. Scotch, mist.

Mixing Set— A bartending term for the tools and small wares necessary to properly prepare, stir or hand shake, different types of cocktails. The assembled items include a metal mixing tin, a 16 oz. mixing glass, a bar spoon and a coiled strainer.

Muddle— A drink preparation term to crush (“muddle”) fruit and other ingredients in a glass. Muddling is typically used in the preparation of Mojitos, Caipirinhas, Old Fashioneds and other cocktails using fresh ingredients.


MuddlerMuddler— A bar term for the wooden pestle used to crush (“muddle”) fruit in a glass. A muddler is typically employed in the preparation of Mojitos, Caipirinhas and Old Fashioneds.

Neat— A mixology term for a liquor or liqueur served undiluted and at room temperature or in heated glass; e.g. Scotch, neat.

On and Over— see Up and Over.

On the Rocks— A mixology term for a liquor or liqueur served over cubed ice; e.g. Scotch, rocks.

Orange Flower Water— A French, non- alcoholic perfumed water used in drink making to add the scent of orange blossoms to a cocktail.

Orgeat Syrup— A French, non-alcoholic, almond-flavored syrup.

Ouzo— A liqueur made primarily in Greece and Cyprus from anise, typically drier and more potent than anisette. 90- to 92-proof.

Over— A mixology term synonymous with On the Rocks.

Pisco Brandy— A brandy produced in both the wine-producing regions of Peru and Chile. 60- to 86-proof and higher.

Poire William (aka Eau-de-Vie de Poire)— An eau-de-vie produced largely in France, Germany and Switzerland distilled from the fermented mash of William, Bartlett or Anjou varieties of pears. Some versions are aged for 1-2 years; others are marketed with a whole pear inside the bottle. 80- to 90-proof.

Port (aka Oporto)— A barrel-aged fortified wine from Portugal, made from red or white grapes. Typically brandy is added to the wine to stop fermentation and elevate its alcohol content. It is often served after dinner as a dessert wine. 18% abv. or higher.

Pour Mat— A bar term for the ribbed rubber mat at a professional bartender’s work station which glasses are placed on during the preparation of a drink order.

Pour Spout— A reusable spouted devise placed in the necks of liquor or liqueur bottles that help a bartender to better control the product’s rate of flow. Pour spouts are available in a variety of shapes and styles.

Proof— A standard used in the United States to measure the alcohol content of a distilled spirit or liqueur that equals twice a product’s alcohol by volume (abv.) at 60° F. For example, an 80-proof spirit contains 40% abv.

Quinine Water— see Tonic Water.

Rum— A distilled spirit produced from either freshly pressed sugar cane juice or sugar cane molasses, distilled in virtually every country that grows and exports sugar. 75- to 152-proof.

Sake (aka Saké)— A Japanese beer brewed from rice and often served warm. 14-18% abv.

ScotchSambuca— An Italian, anise-flavored liqueur made from wild elder bush berries. 70- to 84-proof.

Scotch Whisky— A whisky produced in Scotland distilled primarily from malted barley. A single malt is comprised of whiskies produced at a single distillery, all of which were distilled entirely from malted barley. A blend is comprised of whiskies produced at one or more distilleries and may contain spirits distilled from barley, barley malt, as well as other grain whiskies. The principal appellations in Scotland are the Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, Campbeltown, Islay, Skye, Orkney and Mull. 80- to 102-proof and higher.

Seltzer— see Soda Water.

Shake and Strain— A mixology term used when the ingredients in a drink are meant to be thoroughly mixed and develop a frothy head of foam. A mixing set is most often used to mix a drink in this way. See Drink Preparation.

Sherry— A blended, fortified wine made from palomino grapes primarily in the Jerez de la Frontera district of Spain. The wine is fortified with grape spirits and Solera aged in American oak casks. 17-22% abv.

Short Highball— A mixology term for a highball-type drink that is requested served in a smaller glass than is typically used, resulting in a stronger tasting, more potent drink because less mixer is added.

Shot— (1) A mixology term for a liquor served neat typically in a short glass designed for the purpose; (2) a liquid measurement equivalent to 1 oz.

Simple Syrup (aka bar syrup, sugar syrup, gomme syrup)— A sugary solution used prevalently as a sweetener in drink making, generally prepared using equal parts of sugar and near-boiling water.

Sloe Gin— A liqueur made with gin and flavored with sloe berries and small wild plums that grow on Blackthorn bushes. 40- to 60-proof.

Soda Water (aka club soda, seltzer)— A carbon dioxide charged water used as a cabonated mixer in many drinks.

Splash— A mixology term often used in drink recipes for a fluid measurement equal to or less than a ½ oz. When a request is made for a liquor served on the rocks “..with a splash,” it’s presumed the splash is water, unless otherwise specified.

Spritzer— A drink made with either white, rose or red wine mixed with club soda.

Stir and Strain— A mixology term used when the ingredients in a drink are meant to be chilled and gently mixed. A mixing glass is most often used to mix a drink in this way. See Drink Preparation.

Stone Sour— A type of cocktail consisting
of a requested liquor or liqueur and equal parts of orange juice and lemon sour mix.

Straight Up— A preparation technique in which drink ingredients are poured into an iced mixing glass and either stirred with a bar spoon or vigorously shaken by hand, then strained of the ice into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sweetened Lemon Juice— see Lemon Sour Mix.

Sweetened Lime Juice— see Lime Sour Mix.

Sweet ‘n’ Sour— see Lemon Sour Mix.

Sweet Vermouth— Most closely associated with Italy and made from a blend of barrel-aged red wines that are infused with aromatics and botanicals and fortified with grape spirits to 16–18% abv.

Tequila— A spirit produced in Mexico, made from the Agave Tequilana Weber, a variety of aloe better known as the blue agave. There are four primary designations for tequila: Silver, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo. 80–proof.

Tonic Water (aka quinine)— A bittersweet Twistcarbonated mixer flavored principally with quinine.

Twist (aka lemon twist)— A bar term for a fruit garnish cut from the peel of the lemon; the name makes reference to the twisting motion (done just above the filled glass) that expresses essential oils in the peel into the drink giving it a zesty lemon flavor.

Up— see Straight Up.

Up and Over (aka on and over)— A drink preparation technique in which recipe ingredients are poured into an iced mixing glass, stirred for a count of ten and then strained into an iced glass. The technique is also used to chill (and partially dilute) spirits and liqueurs before being served over ice; e.g. Scotch, up and over. See Stir and Strain.

Up-Mixer— A type of electric mixer resembling those used to prepare milkshakes. It utilizes a spindle device to thoroughly mix the recipe ingredients in a specially designed metal canister.

Virgin— A mixology term for a drink prepared without alcohol.

Vodka— A clear spirit distilled principally from corn, wheat, rye, potatoes, grapes or sugar beets. The majority of vodkas are unaged, repeatedly filtered for purity and bottled at 80- to 100-proof.

With— A mixology term for a bottle of beer ordered with an accompanying chilled glass or mug.

Whisk(e)y— A spirit distilled from a fermented mash of corn, rye, unmalted barley, malted barley or wheat. Although exceptions do exist, whiskeys made in Scotland and Canada are typically labeled without an “e” in the word whisky; those made in Ireland and the United States are labeled with an “e” in the word whiskey.