Essential Bar Terms

Essential Bar Terms

Essential bar terms every guy should know

Shaken, not stirred.’ the catchphrase used by James Bond to order his signature drink, the martini. but why shaken over stirred? You’ve looked over countless drink menus, but stick with the usual because it’s the only one you know. Drinks menus are often riddled with many confusing terms, and ordering can feel like a shot in the dark. Here’s a list of the more common bar terms to help you order with confidence the next time you come across a drinks menu.

Spirit vs liqueur: Simply put, spirits are unsweetened alcoholic beverages above 40 proof, whereas liqueurs (lick-oors) are mixed with herbs and spices to amplify the flavour.
I You’ll find this word on some drinks menus and on all bottle labels. Divide whatever number the proof is, and you have the alcohol percentage content of the liquor. For example, a 100 proof liquor is 50% alcohol content.

Shot: A unit of measure for alcohol, a shot is about 44 ml. You can double, triple, or quadruple it as you see fit.
Well drink: The term ‘well’ comes from the bartender’s workspace, or the bartender’s well. These drinks, located within reach in the well, are the cheaper, lower-end drinks that often consist of a liquor and a mixer.
Aperitif: These shot-sized alcoholic beverages are meant to be consumed prior to eating a meal to stimulate appetite and are therefore usually dry rather than sweet. Examples of aperitifs are vermouth, gin, and martinis.
Digestif: As the name implies, a digestif is meant to help with digestion and is consumed after a meal. They are usually heavier and sweeter than aperitifs. Though not usually consumed as so, Jägermeister is a popular digestif.

Neat: The minimalist of drinks, your choice of alcohol is simply poured into a tumbler or shot glass unmixed.
Straight-up: A straight-up drink is a liquor either shaken or stirred with ice prior to being served. The liquor is then strained and served without the ice. The result is a chilled and undiluted drink.
Shaken vs stirred: The difference comes down to two things: the level of dilution, and the consistency. Both methods are intended to chill your drink, however, a shaken drink is more diluted and has a frothier consistency than one that is stirred, since there’s more agitation.
Dirty: This means a drink mixed with the juice from bar olives, giving it a salty, briny taste. This term is most often used when ordering martinis.
Dry: This indicates that you want the drink mixed with a small amount of vermouth, giving just a slight vermouth flavour to the alcohol. This term is usually used with drinks made of gin or vodka.

Muddled: Whenever you see this in a drink description, it means the ingredients (often herbs, fruits or spices) are mashed against a hard, flat surface with a muddler to infuse or mix the flavours before adding them to the drink. This allows for a more complex and refined flavour in a drink.
Sours: These are drinks that are mixed with lemon or lime juice, a sweetener, and a liquor. The ‘Whiskey Sour’ is a popular sour drink that contains lemon juice, sugar and your favourite whiskey.
Bitters: These are plant-based liquids mixed with water and alcohol that are used in various cocktails. Bitters have a concentrated flavour, so they are used in small doses to enhance a drink’s flavour.

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