Glossary of Bar Terms

This glossary covers bar equipment, spirits, liquors, ingredients and bar terminology.

A – C    D – F     G – I     J – L     M – O     P – R     S – U    V – Z


ABV – alcohol by volume; a measure of how much alcohol is in an alcoholic beverage

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 spoon – a long handled spoon used for stirring and measuring ingredients. Many will have a disc on top that acts as a muddle.

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

curacao – liqueurs produced from the bitter peel of the Seville orange. It comes in many colors, although blue is very common


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


Galliano – a gold-colored Italian liqueur flavored with herbs

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


Jägermeister – a German herbal liqueur

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


mixed drink – a drink where alcohol is combined with a mixer

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


pastis – a French anise flavored liqueur served as an aperitif

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.


sake – a Japanese alcohol made from fermented rice

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


vermouth – a fortified wine flavored with aromatic herbs and roots

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