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Mixology Glossary


ABV-  Acronym for Alcohol By Volume, which is the measurement for how much alcohol is contained in an alcoholic beverage.  Specifically refers to the amount of ethanol, in milliliters (mL), per 100 mL of the given liquid.  Example:  50 mL of ethanol per 100 mL of given liquid = 50% ABV.

Bar Spoon-  Long thin bar instrument with a spoon on the end used to stir cocktails or other beverages.  See bar spoon for more details. 

Bitters-  Highly concentrated liquid made of alcohol, water, sugar and botanicals.  The flavor is typically categorized as bitter or bittersweet.  Used to balance and add complexity to the flavor profile of cocktail.  Example:  Angostura Bitters

Boston Shaker-  Two-piece cocktail shaker that consists of two tins – one of which is a small mouth top that fits into a larger bottom. See cocktail shaker for more details.

Built Drink/ Cocktail-  Cocktail that is built and mixed right in a glass without the use of a shaker.  Example:  Irish Coffee, Caipirinha, White Russian  

Call-  In a bar or restaurant, a call liquor is a step up in quality from a well or house liquor and is typically more expensive. 

Cobbler Shaker-  Three piece shaker that consists of a large bottom, a middle piece with a strainer built in and a small cap. See cocktail shaker for more details. 

Cocktail-  Combination of liquors, liqueurs, juices, bitters and/or other mixers, concocted in such a way to stimulate the senses. 

Collins Glass-  Tall, narrow and cylindrical glass, named after the original Tom Collins cocktail. 

Coupe Glass-  Stemmed, saucer shaped glass.  Originally used as a toasting glass for champagne, modernly used as a substitute for a martini glass. 

Dirty-  Implies the addition of olive juice to a cocktail, most commonly for martinis.  Example Order:  “I’ll have a dirty martini.” 

Dry-  Implies a lesser amount or different kind of vermouth, most commonly associated with Martinis and Manhattans.  A dry Martini has half the amount of dry vermouth as a classic martini; a dry Manhattan has dry vermouth substitute the sweet vermouth.  Example Order:  “I’ll have a dry Manhattan.”

Dry Shake-  Process of shaking a cocktail without ice.  Typically done with a cocktail containing egg white. 

Fine Strainer-  Strainer consisting of a metal mesh net at the end of a handle.  Typically used in conjunction with a hawthorne or julep strainer.  See cocktail strainer for more details. 

Float-  Process of gently pouring a cocktail ingredient on top of a finished cocktail so it ‘floats’ and slowly mixes in with the rest of the cocktail’s contents.  Example:  Tequila Sunrise

Garnish-  Cut piece of fruit, herb, botanical, food or really anything at all used to compliment the flavor profile and/or scent of a cocktail.  Also used strictly for aesthetics.  Example:  Lime wedge, three olives, lemon peel, etc.

Gibson-  Typically associated with a Gibson Martini, which is garnished with small cocktail onions instead of olives or lemon.  Example Order:  “I’ll have a Gibson Martini.” 

Hawthorne Strainer-  Common cocktail strainer that consists of a flat piece of metal with a handle and coil shaped like a semi-circle attached on the end.  Used primarily with a boston or similar two-piece shaker.  See cocktail strainer for more details.

Highball/ highball glass-  Medium sized glass that is taller and narrower than a rocks glass.  Named after the original highball cocktail.  See highball glass for more details. 

Hurricane Glass-  Curvy, large and tall glass.  Named after the original Hurricane cocktail.  See hurricane glass for more details. 

In and Out-  Style of making a Martini that involves swirling the dry vermouth around in a chilled martini glass, then pouring it out before the vodka or gin is added – this process captures the essence of the vermouth, without adding the actual ingredient to the cocktail.  Example Order:  “I’ll have an In and Out Martini.”   

Irish Coffee Glass/Mug-  Mug-shaped glass that is also heat resistant.  Meant to hold a hot cocktail like and Irish Coffee.   

Jigger-  Small, typically double-sided instrument used to measure proportions of cocktail ingredients.  See jigger for more details. 

Julep Strainer-  Originally the most common strainer used by bartenders.  Consists of a convexly shaped piece of metal with many holes in it attached to a small handle.  See cocktail strainer for more details.

Liquor-  Distilled alcohol produced from fermented grains, fruits or vegetables.  Also known as hard liquor, spirits or libations.  Example:  whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila, etc.

Liqueur-  Combination of distilled alcohol and sugar, fruit, botanicals, herbs or spices.  Typically used together with liquor in cocktails.  Example:  vermouth, triple sec, khalua, Chambord, etc.

Lowball-  Style of cocktail that usually contains only two liquors or liqueurs.  Example:  Black Russian. 

Margarita Glass-  Double-curved glass with a stem, similar to a martini glass.  See margarita glass for more details.

Martini/ Martini Glass-  Bowl shaped cocktail glass on a long thin stem.  See martini glass for more details. 

Mixed Drink-  Style of cocktail usually consisting of a liquor/ liqueur and juice or soda, primarily using the later to mask or soften the taste of the alcohol.  Example:  Rum and coke, gin and tonic, vodka cranberry, etc. 

Mixing Glass-  Used to build cocktails that require stirring.  Similar in size and shape to a pint glass.  

Muddle/ Muddler-  Crushing fruit, herbs or other ingredients to infuse their juices, flavors and aromas into a cocktail using a flat headed instrument.  See muddler for more details. 

Neat-  Liquor served in a rocks glass without ice.  Intended to keep alcohol at room temperature and avoid dilution due to melting ice.  Example Order:  “I’ll have a whiskey neat.”

Neutral Spirit-  Colorless, odorless liquor with no added flavorings.  Example: unflavored vodka.

On the Rocks-  Term used when ordering a drink or liquor.  Implies to add ice with the given drink or liquor.  Also implies to be served in a rocks glass.  Example Order:  “I’ll have whiskey on the rocks.”  Or “I’ll have a margarita on the rocks.”   

Parisian Shaker-  Style of shaker similar to a boston shaker.  Consists of a large tin and a much smaller top – the later is typically shaped for aesthetic appeal.  See cocktail shaker for more details.

Pint Glass-  Larger glass that can hold 16 fluid ounces, which is the measurement of a pint.  See pint glass for more details. 

Proof-  Measurement of alcohol content in an alcoholic beverage.  In the United States, the proof of an alcoholic beverage is twice that of its ABV (alcohol by volume.)  Example:  80 proof = 40% ABV

Rocks Glass-  Short and often round cocktail glass.  Also referred to as an old-fashioned glass.  An ‘on the rocks drink’ is always served in this glass.  See rocks glass for more details.

Shaken-  Past participle of shake.  Refers to a cocktail or mixed drink that was mixed by shaking in a shaker with ice. 

Shooter-  Chilled and/or mixed smaller cocktail containing 1 oz- 3 oz of liquid.  Can be served in a rocks glass.  Example:  Kamikaze, Lemon Drop, Green Tea

Shot/ Shot Glass-  Similar to a shooter, but only has 1 oz of liquid and is 100% alcohol.  Contains no mixers.  Example:  B-52, tequila shot, Slippery Nipple

Splash-  Term used in cocktail recipes to indicate just a few drops of an ingredient.  Similar term to ‘pinch’ used in cooking.  Example:  splash of cranberry for a Cosmopolitan   

Stirred/ stirring-  Process of using a bar spoon to mix a cocktail instead of shaking.  Commonly with classic cocktails such as Martinis and Manhattans.  See bar spoon for more details. 

Top Shelf-  In a bar or restaurant, a top shelf liquor is the highest quality liquor that the establishment has to offer.  Typically the most expensive as well.

Twist-  Garnish created by peeling a citrus fruit and cutting the peel so it is thin enough to contort into a spiral shape.  Commonly done with lemons and oranges. 

Up/ Straight Up-  Term used when ordering a drink or liquor.  Implies for the drink or liquor to be chilled and served in a martini glass without ice.  Also, a term specifically for a martini glass.  Example Order:  “I’ll have a martini straight up with olives.” Or “I’ll have vodka in an up glass.” 

Virgin Cocktail-  Cocktail or mixed drink containing no alcohol.  Most common with cocktails that have a lot of mixer ingredients such as Bloody Marys or Pina Coladas. 

Well Liquor/ Pour-  In a bar or restaurant, a well liquor is the cheapest and lowest quality liquor served.  Also referred to as a house liquor.  Called well because these types of liquors are kept in a well at the bartending station for quick access since they are served most often.