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6. Bar Terminology

Q: What is mixed drink?
A: A mixed drink is any drink that contains an alcoholic beverage as an ingredient.

Q: What is cocktail?
A: A cocktail is a mixed drink made with wine or distilled spirits and served with ice. The 4 main ingredients used to make cocktail are spirits, sugar, water and bitters.

Q: What is mocktail?
A: A mocktail is a non-alcoholic cocktail made from a mix of fruit juices.

Here are some terms used when ordering alcoholic beverages:

  • Up - The term “up” refers to drinks that come chilled, but without ice, and are served in cocktail glasses.
  • Neat - The term “neat” refers to unmixed liquor that is served at room temperature.
  • Straight - There is a degree of ambiguity around the term "straight”. It can be used to refer to a drink that is served either "neat" or "up".
  • Straight up - Technically, when using the term "straight up" it should refer to an alcoholic drink that includes ice in the mixing process, and is either shaken or stirred. The drink should then be strained, so as to remove the ice, and served in a stemmed glass. As with the term "straight", "straight up" can be ambiguous, and is sometimes used to mean "neat". Due to the ambiguity if these terms, it is best to clarify with the customer before making the drink.
  • On the rocks - In the term "on the rocks", rocks refers to ice. Therefore, when asked for a drink “on the rocks”, the drink should be served over ice.
  • Well drinks - Well drinks, otherwise known as “rail drinks”, refer to a category of lower-priced drinks that an establishment may serve.
  • Top-shelf - Top-shelf drinks, sometimes also known as "call drinks”, are the opposite of well drinks, and refer to a category of higher-priced drinks.