Have you ever stumbled over mixology-related terms while ordering a drink at the bar or when fulfilling a friend’s cocktail request at home? You are not alone! In fact, we believe that learning and then flaunting these pro terms is part of the cocktail fun. In the spirit of leveling up any cocktail lover’s experience, we assembled a quick guidebook on cocktail terminology.

Shaken vs. Stirred Drinks

These are the two most popular ways of assembling a cocktail. If your recipe calls for cream, egg whites, or fresh citrus, shake it up. On the other hand, stirring is the best method if iquor and a little sugar are the only ingredients. Shaking creates a little bit of foam, which some say brightens up the cocktail, making it bubbly and more refreshing. 

When you order a drink “Shaken,” the ingredients are measured directly in the shaker. Then (you guessed it!) everything is shaken vigorously with ice. Some bartenders recommend shaking until the maker’s hand feels cold. 

Alternatively, ordering a “Stirred” cocktail simply means that the ingredients are added to a mixing jar, then stirred either vigorously or gently with a stirring spoon. It is best to stir cocktails that are heavy in liquor and lighter on the extra stuff.

Wet vs. Dry vs. Dirty vs. Naked Martinis

A little extra dry vermouth is the key ingredient to a Wet Martini. Conversely, ordering a Dry Martini signals the bartender to hold back on the vermouth. 

Dirty Martinis are a variation on the classic martini. Aside from it being slightly more fun to order something that’s “dirty,” a dirty martini will be served with the addition of an olive and a splash of brine juice. 

Finally, the Naked Martini is a variation for the more enthusiastic martini lovers. Neither shaking nor stirring is involved in the assembly. Instead, a glass is “rinsed” or sprayed with dry vermouth. Afterwards, vodka or gin is poured straight out of its icy cold bottle. 

Ordering a Cocktail “Up” (or Straight Up) vs. Neat vs. On the Rocks

A cocktail that is Up refers to a drink that’s been chilled either by shaking or stirring with ice, then poured into a stemmed glass without ice (i.e.: Martinis). Comparatively, ordering something Neat refers to a single spirit or liqueur served without the interference of ice or water (i.e.: Whiskey Neat). In contrast, any drink that’s ordered On the Rocks is served over ice, usually in a short or rocks glass. 

Subtle Techniques to Spice Up Your Cocktail 

Express: This method of enhancing your drink involves squeezing the rind of a citrus fruit, such as an orange peel, over the top of the finished cocktail. Win extra pro-points by wiping the rind around the rim and stem of the glass. The oils released add a little extra flavor and subtle citrus scent while you sip. Afterall, a good cocktail not only tastes good, but smells delightful too! 

Zest: Similar to Express, Zesting emphasizes the aromatic oils of citrus fruit. The rinds are squeezed over the top and then dropped into the finished cocktail. 

Twist: When you order a drink with a Twist, it will be served with a citrus or fruit peel of your choice as a garnish. Common Twists are lemon, orange, and grapefruit. 

Rinsing: This technique entails swirling alcohol in a glass then discarding that alcohol before pouring in the final drink. The cocktail will be complemented by the aromatic effect of the rinse without being overwhelmed. 

Rim: When you order your cocktail Rimmed, it will be served with salt, sugar, or citrus oil around the rim of the glass. One of the most common drinks to display this flare are margaritas rimmed with salt. 

Ingredients to Enhance your Recipe

Infusion: This approach to enhancing your cocktails may involve a little more preparation. Spirits can be infused by adding a special ingredient to your favorite liquor then stored for days, weeks, or months. The most common commercial infused spirits found in stores are vodka infused with flavors of vanilla or fruit. However, infusions made at home may taste more natural and subtle. Infused liquors make wonderful bases for cocktails or ice cold shots. 

Muddle: A pestle-like stick is used to massage herbs, vegetables, fruits, or spices to release their aromatic and flavorful essences prior to mixing them into the cocktail. This technique enhances the drink with fresh ingredients. For example, adding muddled fresh ginger to a Moscow Mule makes it spicier than the ginger beer can on its own. 

Bitters: Bitters are every good bartender’s spice rack and secret ingredient.  They’re made in small batches from ingredients such as herbs and berries. The resulting secret ingredient is subtle with a distinct bitterness. There are two main types of bitters: Dashable Bitters and Amari. Dashable Bitters are made by combining a strong liquor with different herbs. On the other hand, Amari bitters are drunk as aperitifs and digestifs before or after a meal.