Cocktail Terminology

March 11, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

Ordering a cocktail can be as confusing as ordering at starbucks. Here’s a quick guide to help you get it your way.

  • on the rocks – on ice (“rocks”)
  • straight up – chilled in a shaker and strained to remove ice (aka “up” or “shaken”)
  • stirred – served on ice and stirred with a bar spoon
  • neat – served at room temperature, no ice
  • back – a glass of non-alcoholic liquid served with your cocktail, such as water for mixing with Whiskey

If you like martinis, they have a language of their own. Traditionally, a martini is made with gin and dry vermouth, then garnished with a green olive. Many variations have become popular, especially swapping top shelf vodka with gin. Here are some terms for traditional martinis:

  • dry – little to no vermouth
  • wet – extra vermouth
  • dirty – extra olive juice, making it look “dirty” (murky)
  • perfect – equal parts dry and sweet vermouth are used


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Photo: Adrian Hoffmann (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (on the rocks, martini),,

Entry filed under: Food and Drink. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Victoria  |  March 11, 2011 at 9:16 am

    The martini looks blue in that photo!!

  • 2.  |  March 11, 2011 at 9:34 am

    That’s why I like my wine and beer!

  • 3. Richard Head  |  March 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Another secret is to tell the bartender that u want the ‘camera’ treatment and they will pour cheez whiz into any drink

  • 4. Ryan  |  March 11, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    What terminology do you use to indicate that you want a ridiculously large umbrella in your drink?

    • 5. Chad Upton  |  March 12, 2011 at 8:13 am

      I don’t believe there is an official term, but I’d be willing to put forward a motion for one. Perhaps, “on the beach” or “sunny side up”?

  • 6. Juice Detox  |  March 2, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Thanks for the mixology lesson

  • 7. Nathan BUrkes  |  January 4, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Let’s not forget the sweet martini, where white vermouth is replaced with an equal measure of red vermouth (sweet).


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