Common Bartending Terms

A glossary of basic bartending terms.

The basics of bartending are really quite simple. Drinks are mixed following recipes or ratios, and are poured into properly prepared glasses, often with garnishes, to create enticing beverages. Learn some of the basic terminology of the mixology side of the bar with this handy glossary of bartending terms.

Back: A back is a non-alcoholic drink served alongside a shot. Backs are also sometimes called chasers. Sometimes a small beer served alongside a shot is considered a back.

Blend: Blended drinks have been mixed in an electric blender to combine all of the ingredients. In a frozen blended drink, the blender mixes the ingredients and breaks the ice into tiny, frothy crystals.

Dash: A few drops of an ingredient is considered a dash. A dash is usually 1/16 of an ounce or less.

Frost: A glass is frosted when it has been dipped in water, then frozen. This process leaves a thin layer of frost on the glass and is suitable for serving cold beverages.

Garnish: A garnish is something of an ornamental nature served on the rim of the glass or in the glass. Examples of garnishes are olives and pearl onions (in martinis), slices of fruit (in tropical and blended drinks), and maraschino cherries.

Highball: A highball is any liquor beverage served with ice and soda in a tumbler.

Jigger: A jigger is used to measure approximately an ounce to an ounce and a half of alcohol.

Layered: A layered drink has the different liquors in layers, usually with the heaviest ones at the bottom. The drink is served unmixed.

Mist: A mist is an alcohol poured over crushed ice. It is usually not mixed prior to pouring.

Mixer: Mixers are non-alcoholic beverages that are used in cocktails along with alcohol.

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

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.

Over: A drink served over is an alcoholic beverage served over ice cubes. It is usually not mixed prior to pouring.

Pony: A pony is equal to one ounce.

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.

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.

Splash: A small amount of mixer added to a drink is a splash.

Twist: A bit of lemon peel that is rubbed on the edge of a glass. Sometimes the twist is dropped into the drink.

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.

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