A Drink Dictionary
Now that you got the fundamentals down, it’s time to learn about all of the fun ways alcohol can be served. Opening a drink menu or hearing someone order a drink can be as confusing as reading a chemistry textbook in Greek. With all of the different terminology, it’s easy to get lost. Here’s an understandable and alphabetical guide to the vocabulary you need to know. Once you order the basic liquor, there are lots of other ways to mix up your drink, and the waiter or bartender will ask you so they concoct it just how you like it. “Do you want that frozen or on the rocks?” “Shaken or stirred?”
Here’s what it all means:
Bitters: Alcohol that is bitter or bittersweet and usual contains herbal essences like plants or flowers.
Chaser: A drink -- either alcoholic or non -- to be consumed directly after a shot.
Garnish: A decorative piece of fruit or vegetable that’s floating on top of the drink or hanging out on the side of the glass.
Martini Lingo: A dirty martini means that some of the brine from the olive jar is mixed in with the drink. A dry martini means little to no Vermouth (a fortified wine flavored with dry ingredients) while a wet martini is a moderate amount of Vermouth.
Neat/Straight Up: A liquor served in the glass with no ice or other ingredients. This is usually for purists who love the taste of the alcohol without any interference.
On the Rocks: A single spirit served over ice.
Shaken: A mixed drink where the ingredients are combined in a cocktail shaker, typically over ice.
Sour: Typically a fruit juice -- lemon or lime -- added to a spirit as a mixer. Girly-girl drinkers should be best friends with this term.
Splash: A small amount of any mixer, like soda or juice, added to a completed drink.
Stirred: Combining spirits and mixers without using a cocktail shaker.
Twist: A slice -- or curl -- of lemon peel run along the edge of the glass. How chic does “Martini with a Twist” sound?
Up: Shaken or otherwise prepared with ice, and strained into an ice-less glass.
What Is Actually in These Classic Drinks?
We’ve heard them mentioned numerous times in TV shows and movies, but if you’re going to order one, you have to know what’s actually in it!
Martini: Gin and Vermouth, served with a lemon twist or olive
Long Island Iced Tea: Surprisingly no iced tea, but a mixture of a variety of liquors; Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Triple Sec (an orange-flavored liqueur), Sour Mix, and a splash of Cola.
Sazerac: Absinthe, Rye Whiskey and Peychuad’s Bitters. New Orleans is the home of this classic drink.
Manhattan: Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, and bitters, garnished with a Maraschino cherry.
Cosmopolitan: Vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. Its shockingly pink color is always a crowd pleaser.