Learn the basic terms to order a “Classic Cocktail” like an expert!

 A bad cocktail  experience often begin with a disappointment to communicate. When it comes to ordering — or building — an amazing cocktail, it’s best to be at least a little experienced in basic bar terms.

Especially if you’re in the habit of ordering unclear drinks, you’ll increase your chance of getting what you love by knowing how to describe what you want!


Do you prefer your Manhattan up, or your Rob Roy perfect?  Your martini shaken or stirred?

Knowing the basic procedure of cocktail creation is your first step towards receiving a drink you’ll enjoy (and staying on good terms with your favorite bartender).


Perfect Manhattan

  • 2 oz Blended Whiskey
  • ½ oz Dry Vermouth
  • ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 dash Bitters

Swirl with ice to chill, pour into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

A drink — either alcoholic or non — to be consumed directly after a shot. This can also be referred to as a back.

To layer one type of liquor (or other ingredient) on top of another; the separation occurs due to the different densities of the liquids.

A decorative piece of fruit or other solid ingredient not incorporated into the drink.

A liquor served solo in the glass, with no ice or other interfering ingredients.

On the Rocks

A single spirit or a cocktail served over ice.

Similar to “on the rocks”: a liquor or mix of liquors served over ice cubes.

A perfect Manhattan (or Rob Roy, for that matter) contains equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth (instead of selecting one or the other.)

In a mixed drink, where the ingredients are combined in a cocktail shaker, typically over ice. Leads to a frothy, well-integrated final product.

Typically a fruit juice — lemon or lime — added to a spirit as a mixer.

A small amount of any mixer (soda, say) added to a completed drink.

Integrating spirits and mixers without the extreme, ice-breaking agitation of the cocktail shaker.

Straight Up
A spirit with no ice. Used interchangeably with “neat.”

A slice — or curl — of lemon peel run along the edge of the glass, and often left as garnish.

Shaken or otherwise prepared with ice, but strained (now cold) into an ice-less glass.

Non-alcoholic. Also known as a “mocktail.”

A “well” drink is a mixed drink made with generic, or simply unspecified, spirits.

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