If you love hanging out by the bar and watching bartenders create your favorite drinks, you’ll often hear them throw around some interesting yet foreign phrases. We’ve gathered some terms that will guide you in understanding some bartending language. So, next time you sit by the bar and chat up your bartender you can throw around these words with a smile: “Hey, easy on the shake, I don’t want a ‘bruised’ drink.”


 ABVIt stands for alcohol by volume or the measure of alcohol in the solution. ABV equals 1/2 of the spirit’s proof.


Bar SpoonA long mixing spoon that comes in different style depending on drink preparation. Some have a flared end, ideal for stirring and layering drinks, the Trident is used for grabbing olives, cherries or other garnishes, and a Muddler bar spoon has a hammer or disk placed on the end to mash –or muddle– fruits, herbs, and spices at the bottom of a glass.


BittersHerbal alcoholic blend used to enhance flavor profile of a cocktail (e.g a Manhattan is rye, sweet vermouth, and a couple dashes of bitters). One of the most popular brand for bitters is Angostura Bitters. It was first invented by a German physician for stomach maladies in 1824.


BoxIt means pour into and out of a shaker, usually only once. It mixes the drink quickly without shaking.


BruisedIt is when a cocktail has been over shaken and thus has more water than normal.


BuildTo build a drink is a process where the bartender adds ice to a glass and then follows it with the spirit and mixers.


Cask StrengthIt is a term often used with whisky. It describes the level of alcohol-by-volume used for a whisky during its storage in a cask. The spirit in the cask is much stronger, typically in the range of 60 to 65 percent ABC. During maturation, water is added in the process to bring the alcohol down to 40 percent. Some distillers sell cask strength bottles in small batches.


DashIt means a few drops or a small amount of an ingredient for the drink.


DirtyA term used when making a martini, it means adding olive juice to a martini which makes it a Dirty Martini. Adding more olive juice makes a dirtier martini.


Double StrainStraining the liquid out with a hawthorne strainer on the lid of the shaker and an additional fine strainer while pouring the drink to make sure that there will be no leftover pieces of herbs, spices, or other ingredient particles transferred into the finished drink. It gives the drink a smooth finish.


DramIt means a “wee bit” or small portion of whisky or other spirits.


DryA term used for a martini. It means a small amount of vermouth is added to a martini. An “extra dry” martini is made by washing the glass with a small amount of whisky before adding the gin.


FinishThe term is used when tasting wine or whisky. After tasting and swallowing, the finish is the aftertaste that you can taste on your tongue.


FlameWhile making a cocktail, flame means setting a drink on fire.


Flamed ZestIt is when the bartender ignites a flame using the aromatic oils found in the rind of citrus fruit. You can gently squeeze the zest to release the oils over a flame.


FloatUsually done for shots. It is when one alcohol sits on top of another alcohol in a shooter glass


Free pourBartenders use this style of pouring liquids without using a jigger or measuring cups. They measure by counting seconds.


Garnish It’s what’s added on top of the drink, or on the side of the glass to showcase the ingredients used or enhance the cocktail presentation.


Infuse – It is used when flavoring spirits. It is the process of absorbing a flavor from spices, herbs, and fresh ingredients into a spirit or alcohol.


JiggerThe jigger is the mark of precision and care in crafting cocktails. It is an hourglass-shaped cup used to measure liquid ingredients. It comes in different styles and colors–copper, gold, and the more common stainless steel. The most common measurement has a side that measures 1 ounce (30ml) and the other measures 1½ ounces (45ml).


LaceIt applies to the last ingredient in a recipe mix, meaning to pour onto the top of the drink.


LayerThe process of adding one alcohol on top of the other where the heavier alcohol goes on the bottom and the next, lighter alcohol floats to the top using a careful pour down the side of the glass or a pour over an inverted spoon.


LegsThis term is used when tasting wine in a glass. The French call it “tears.” It is the lines that stream down the side of the glass after you swirl the wine. The way the legs fall sometimes has to do with the level of alcohol in the wine or sugar in wine.


LongIt is a drink served in a tall glass.


MashIt is a distilling term used for the combination of all the grain (malted barley, rye, wheat, etc) with water and heating this mixture.


MixerThese are the non-alcoholic liquid ingredients that can be added to the alcohol in drinks. A mixer can be water, soda, juice, or energy drinks (i.e. in the drink Rum & Coke, the mixer is Coke).


MuddleTo crush or grind up ingredients with a tool called a muddler. A muddler comes in different styles. Some resemble a pestle.


NoseThe aroma, or the bouquet, of the wine or whisky.


PeatyPeatiness is the smoky quality of a whisky. Peat is an organic decayed plant matter found in marshy places like Scotland. Smoking the peat adds a distinct earthy and smoky flavor to the whisky. In Scotland, Islay whiskies have this distinct flavor in their Scotch.


PerfectUsually used when speaking about martinis and manhattans. It means combining equal parts of dry and sweet vermouth in a drink. “A perfect martini or manhattan will divide whatever amount of vermouth is called for into two equal parts.”


PonyNo. not pertaining to a horse. It is a slang word for 1 fluid ounce (30 ml).


ProofIt means the measurement of strength in spirits. The proof of a spirit is measured by doubling the ABV. (e.g. A spirit with 44 percent ABV is an 88-proof spirit.


RimTo rim a glass, first wet the rim with a lime, or the lime juice in a rimmer, then gently press the rim of the glass into a saucer of salt.


RinseIt means to wash the inside of a glass with a small amount of alcohol or liquid. Like the process in making an “extra dry” martini.


RollIt is another method for mixing a drink. Instead of shaking or stirring, you build the drink in the mixing glass by gently pouring it into a shaker back and fort to mix things together.


Short It means serving a drink in a short, rocks glass.


ShotNo bullet involved. 1.5 fluid ounces (44 ml)


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


SlingA cocktail without bitters, so it’s just sugar, water, and spirits. Sweeter, generally.


StirredA drink that is stirred, not shaken, and then strained.


StrainTo drain the liquid out of a shaker.


TanninsTannins are astringent biomolecules found in grape skins that produce a bitter effect, that gives wine its dry flavor.


TotA small amount of liquor.


TwistRind of the citrus used as a garnish made by a channeling knife or a citrus peel twisted over the drink, to express the oils, and then dropped in.


WetUsed to describe a martini with an extra mixer or extra vermouth.

Drinkmanila.com is your learned drinking buddy who can tell you what to drink, what you’re drinking and where to drink. Learn about the coolest and the latest bars in the metro, or the newest beverage or new product out in the market, or have fun creating enjoyable drinks from our features and videos within the comfort of your homes.

Want more stuff like this?

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Sign Up For A Weekly Dose of DrinkManila

Don't worry we don't spam

Load More Related Articles
Load More In Drinking 101

Check Also

City of Dreams Cocktail Creator Sam Jeveons Shares 5 Tips for Up-and-Coming Bartenders:

It’s always exciting when mixologists from some of the best bars from around the world vis…