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8 Mixology Terms Every Enthusiast Should Know

If you’re a budding mixologist (or you just enjoy mixing up your own cocktail concoctions at home), you need to learn how to talk the talk. Between making drinks for your guests and trying cocktail recipes, it helps to understand common terminology so you’re not running to Google every time. These are the top terms you need to know.

1.   Neat

When your bar top is neat, it’s clear of all unnecessary clutter. That’s exactly what “neat” means in mixology speak too: simply a glass of a particular spirit served at room temperature without any ice, water, or mixers. You’ll often hear it in the context of “whiskey, neat,” “vodka, neat,” and so on.

2.   On the Rocks

Another popular way to order a spirit is “on the rocks.” This simply means “on ice.” For instance, if someone asks for a Dewar’s on the rocks, they’ll be thrilled when you serve up a glass of the award-winning Dewar’s 18 Year on ice.

3.   Dash

The term “dash” is one of those vague measurement terms that make every new mixologist’s head spin. It refers to just a small amount of the ingredient – around one milliliter. Similarly, “splash” is slightly larger – around two or three milliliters.

4.   Garnish

“Garnish” sometimes goes beyond the cocktail world and into the culinary world. In a bar setting, though, a garnish is a small item that decorates a drink while often adding a touch of extra flavor too. Common garnishes include mint leaves, lime wedges, olives, and so on.

5.   Straight Up

You might hear the terms “straight up” or “up” in the context of a martini for example. These terms refer to a drink that was shaken with ice to chill it, then filtered into a stemmed glass without ice. This way, there’s no ice to dilute the flavor of a great spirit like Skagerrak Gin.

6.   Dry

The term “dry” is common but it can be slightly different in different cocktail-related contexts. In its broadest sense, it just means “not sweet.” You might see, for example, that there’s dry vermouth and sweet vermouth.

If someone asks for a dry cocktail, they’re often asking you to use the dry version of the liquor in the cocktail. For example, a dry martini uses dry vermouth and dry gin. 

7.   Dirty

This is another common martini term. If a martini is “dirty,” it means that it includes some olive brine along with the traditional ingredients. This gives the drink more of a salty, olive-heavy flavor.

8.   Twist

A twist is a common garnish for cocktails. You could make a lemon twist, lime twist, or even orange twist, but if it’s not specified, a lemon twist is the default. Regardless, a twist is a slice of the rind of a fruit, twisted into a curly shape.

Mastering the Mixologist’s Dictionary

Mixology is one of those art forms that sounds complicated, but as you learn the lingo and the techniques, it becomes a fun hobby. The terms above give you a great starting point for becoming a true cocktail enthusiast.Of course, every mixologist also has to know the best spirits to include in their creations. Learn everything you need to know about the latest SIP Award winners.

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