Barspeak: How to Order a Drink Without Sounding Like a Yokel

Chances are you’ve been in this situation at one point or another. You go up to the bar and ask for a drink. What happens next takes you off guard and because you’re not too keen on the terminology, the bartender may as well be speaking to you in Swahili. He or she is asking if you want a “well” or a “call” drink. Realizing that you have no clue what the bartender means, you stammer then respond in a muffled voice, hoping to push past the awkward moment, get your drink and high tail it out of there before any other strange incantations are thrown your way. The next thing you know, you’ve either gotten one of the worst tasting cocktails you’ve ever had in your life or you’ve just paid $12 for a rum and coke.

We here at KegWorks know you’re not a yokel and we don’t want you sounding like one at the club, bar or pub of your choice either. That in mind, we’ve prowled our barspeak dictionary and translated a few basic terms to help you sound like a pro next time you’re out and about or hosting friends at your home bar.

How long a liquor or wine has been stored (usually in a wooden barrel, typically an oak barrel)
A non-alcoholic drink or glass of beer served on the side of a shot.
Mixer made from bark, herbs, roots and berries to add a bitter zest to drinks.
Call Drink
A liquor and mixer, identified as a specific brand. (i.e., Bacardi and Coke or “7 and 7” for Seagram’s 7 (whisky) and 7-Up)
A drink or mixer that is consumed immediately after a shot of liquor to create a different taste. (i.e., a shot of whiskey served with a beer chaser)
Any of various alcoholic beverages consisting usually of brandy, whiskey, vodka, or gin combined with fruit juices or other liquors and often served chilled.
A couple of drops, approximately 1/32 oz.
Drink which utilizes dry vermouth.
To layer one ingredient on top of another or to top a beverage.
Strong alcoholic beverage derived from fermentation and distillation; referring to alcohol-based beverages which are not classified as beer or wine.
A non-alcoholic beverage mixed with spirits.
Room-temperature beverage with no ice.
A wine or liquor taken before bedtime.
On the Rocks
A wine or liquor poured over ice cubes.
Equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth added to a beverage & served with a twist of lemon.
A step above call, but not top shelf.
The ratio of alcohol to water in distilled liquors.
A beverage served in one ounce glass.
A straight shot of whiskey or other kind of spirit taken neat.
Single Malt
A term to denote that a Scotch whisky, aged at least 8 years, is not blended with other types of Scotch whisky. Each is unique to its own distillery process.
A generic term for strong alcoholic beverage.
Straight Up
Beverage which is mixed with ice and then strained into a glass.
Super Call
Also known as top shelf or super premium liquor; higher proof liquors which are sometimes super-aged or flavored versions of named brands. See Top Shelf.
Top Shelf
The highest quality spirits in the house.
A non-alcoholic beverage.
Well Drink
A liquor and mixer, of which neither are defined brands. (i.e., ”gin and tonic,” Rum and Coke)


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