Glossary of Bar Terms
This glossary covers bar equipment, spirits, liquors, ingredients and bar terminology.
Advocaat – a Dutch emulsion liqueur made with egg yolks, sugar and brandy.
ale – a dark, malted beverage
Amaretto – an Italian liqueur with a sweet almond flavor
Angostura bitters – the most popular bitters, made in Trinidad and produced with a secret blend of aromatic spices
Aquavit – a spirit from Scandinavia flavored with herbs and spices
aperitifs – drinks served before a meal that are intended to stimulate the appetite.
Aperol – an Italian bitter aperitif flavored with oranges
bar strainer – a specially shaped strainer that fits over the top of a shaker and prevents piece of ice, fruit and other ingredients from being poured into a serving glass
beer – an alcoholic beverage made from yeast-fermented cereal grains
bitters – herb and root extracts or liqueurs flavored with herb and root extracts, traditionally thought to help stimulate the appetite and aid in digestion.
Boston Shaker – two pieces, a 26 – 28 oz. mixing tin and a 16 oz. mixing glass, make up the Boston shaker. Use it for shaking or stirring drinks.
bourbon – an American whiskey distilled from corn mash, malt, and rye.
brandy – a distilled spirit made from grapes, typically aged in oak barrels
brut – the lowest level of sweetness of sparking wines
Cachaça – a Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugarcane
Calvados – an apple brandy produced in Normandy in France and aged in oak or chestnut barrels
Campari – an Italian bitters with a distinctive red color
Can Punch – A can punch is used to punch holes in cans of fruit juice, mixers, etc. so the liquid can be poured from the can. The other end of the punch is a bottle opener.
Cassis – a dark red black current Liqueur
Cava – Spanish sparkling wine
Champagne – sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France
chaser – a drink that follows a shot of alcohol
Cointreau – a citrus liqueur made with Seville oranges and lemons
Cognac – brandy produced around the town of Cognac in western France. VS means the cognac has been matured in oak barrels for at least two years. VSOP and Vieux indicate four years; and Extra or XO indicate 6-10 years of aging.
creme de cacao – a cocoa liqueur flavored with roasted cocoa beans and vanilla
creme de methe – a creamy peppermint flavored liqueur
crusta – a sugared rim on a glass
dash – the smallest ingredient amount measured
digestive – a drink consumed after a meal to aid in digestion
Drambuie – a Scottish whisky and honey liqueur
dry – a term applied to drinks and spirits that are differentiated by degree of sweetness, such as sparkling wines and gin. “Medium dry” is sweeter than “dry”, while “extra dry” is less sweet than “dry”
Eau de vie – colorless fruit brandy
float – an ingredient carefully poured so that it floats on top of a drink.
fortified wine – wine with a spirit added to it
Frangelico – an Italian liqueur made from hazelnuts
Genever – juniper-flavored spirit from Holland, the precursor to gin
gin – a clear spirit flavored with juniper berries
Grand Marnier – an orange liqueur
Grappa – clear Italian brandy distilled from the remains of grapes used in wine production
grenadine – a sweet pomegranate syrup used to add color and flavor to drinks.
hard cider – an alcoholic drink made from fermented cider
Hawthorn Strainer – Hawthorn strainers have a coiled spring-like wire that allows it to sit snugly onto the top of your mixing tin. Drinks that are shaken with ice should be strained through the Hawthorn strainer.
ice wine – a dessert wine pressed from grapes that have been frozen on the vine
Jigger – a jigger is a two sided metal cup used to measure out liquid. The larger side measures 1 1/2 oz. and is called a jigger. The smaller side is called a pony and measures one ounce. Jiggers come in different sizes so make sure you know which one you’re using before you start pouring.
Julep Strainer – A Julep strainer is used to strain stirred drinks from a mixing glass. Unlike the Hawthorn strainer, the Julep strainer is made to fit in the mixing glass, has no spring, and is concave in shape.
kirsch – a brandy distilled from fermented cherry juice
lager – a beer that is light in color and body
liqueur – a sweetened spirit that has flavor, aroma and/or color added
mixer – juices, sodas and other non-alcoholic liquids mixed with spirits
moonshine – a high proof spirit, often illicitly distilled
muddler – a tool with a flat end for crushing herbs, fruits, sugar cubes and other ingredients into drinks.
neat – straight liquor, with no mixer, water or ice
Pisco – a clear Chilean brandy
pony-jigger – a bar measure made of stainless steel with two cups for measuring ingredients. The jigger is larger and measures 1 1/2 to 2 oz. The pony measures 1 oz
pousse-cafes – layered drinks consisting of liqueurs of various weights
proof – a measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in an alcoholic beverage. The alcoholic proof is defined as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV)
quinine – a bitter compound which flavors tonic water; a malaria preventative
rocks, on the – a drink served over ice cubes
rum – a spirit distilled from fermented sugarcane and the byproducts of sugar production. Light rum is typically aged in steel tanks. Dark rum is aged in wood casks and has a stronger flavor.
Sambuca – an Italian liqueur flavored with anise and elderberries
sherry – a fortified wine made in Southern Spain
sloe gin – a liqueur made by macerating crushed sloes, a small tart fruit related to the plum, in gin
soda water – carbonated water used as a mixer or to finish drinks
soju – a clear Korean grain alcohol
Southern Comfort – a whisky liqueur from New Orleans with an orange-peach flavor
spirit – a distilled alcohol
tequila – a spirit distilled from blue agave cactus
tonic water – a slightly bitter, carbonated beverage flavored with quinine that is used in mixed drinks
twist – a small piece of citrus peel squeezed over a cocktail to flavor it
virgin – a nonalcoholic version of a drink that typically contains alcohol
vodka – a clear spirit distilled from mixtures of grains or potatoes with a neutral taste
well drink – a mixed drink made with unspecified brands of spirits
wine – an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes
whiskey/whisky – a spirit made from fermented grain mash and aged in oak barrels
zester – a tool for removing the flavorful zest of citrus fruits