Glossary

This is no way definitive. We just tried to think the most frequently used words that turn up in the cocktail world which might raise quizzical eyebrow. For those seasoned cocktail types we really don’t want to teach you to suck eggs (sucking eggs would be disgusting anyway – have a cocktail instead). But all of us, Mr G and Ms S included, are always stumbling across a new mixology-type word. That’s part of the cocktail fun. We hope that these few pointers help enhance your pleasure.
If we’ve missed something obvious please let us know. Or if you come across a word or expression in a cocktail bar or book that has left you baffled we will do our best to relieve your suffering.

Bitters
Boston Shaker
Champagne Flute
Chilling Glasses
Cobblers
Cocktail Glass
Collins Glass
Condiment
Dirty
Double Strained
Dry
Flaming Zest
Flairing
Frosted Glasses
Garnish
Glassware
Gomme
Highball
Highball Glass
Ice
Infusion
Jigger
Liqueur
Margarita Glass
Martini
Martini Glass
Measure
Mixers
Muddle
Naked
Neat
Old-Fashioned Glass
Perfect
Proof
Punch Cups
Rim
Rocks
Rocks Glass
Rolling
Served Long
Shaken
Shot Glass
Sour
Spirit
Splash
Standard Shaker
Stirred
Straight Up
Sugar Syrup
Twist
Up
Wheel
Zest

Bitters

The good bartender’s secret ingredient. The most commonly known is Angostora Bitters. Made from ingredients such as herbs and berries with a subtle but significant bitter flavour. Increasingly there are more and more variants. Think of them as the seasoning in your drink. (Mr G is very fond of a dash of Orange Bitters in his Gin Martini.) Always use sparingly.

Boston Shaker

This is the shaker you will usually see in most decent bars. It consists of a large glass and a metal tumbler which is a little bigger.  When they are put together and shaken the ice amongst the ingredients causes a seal. When used effectively they fully mix the ingredients and more importantly, deeply chill the drink with the ice. Also see Standard Shaker.

Champagne Flute

Effortlessly elegant, these long, narrow glasses say celebration even before you’ve taken a sip out of them. The shape isn’t purely for aesthetic reasons – the height and width allows those precious bubbles to fizz for as long as possible. So while those fabulous deco champagne saucers may have looked glam, they didn’t do much for the effervescent nature of this wonderful drink. Tip: hold from the base of glass to keep your champagne chilled for as long as possible.

Chilling Glasses

Chilling your cocktail glasses is not in any way essential but you will thank us for the tip. That said, this little act of kindness is not essential for all cocktails. Rocks drinks glasses don’t need chilling and champagne cocktails will actually suffer should you chill the glasses (it can make the bubbles a little less fizzy.) But straight up cocktails – martinis and daiquiris being the best examples really do like a good chilling. So get your glasses in the freezer. Clear out non essentials and get the glasses in. (Who needs frozen peas anyway?) Not only will they look great when you serve your drinks (nice and frosted and groovy looking), but they will keep the cocktail delightfully cold, as it should be. If you want to go a little further you can go for Frosted Glasses.

Cobblers

No, we’re not being rude, a Cobbler is in fact a drink; traditionally wine or sherry-based with plenty of fresh fruit or sweetener thrown in for good measure. These days you’ll find spirits being substituted for the original base, no matter, the unifying factor is that a Cobbler is served in a Collins Glass over crushed ice. These summery drinks date back to the nineteenth century and are reputed to be the inspiration for the Standard Shaker (aka the Cobbler Mixer).

Cocktail Glass (Martini Glass)

See Martini Glass.

Collins Glass (Highball Glass)

There are subtle variations between the Collins Glass and the Highball Glass but really there are more important things to think about. Both are tall with a heavy base. This where you should see your Gin and Tonic.

Condiment

Just like cooking, serious cocktail making calls for carefully selected reinforcements to add body or ‘seasoning’ to the drink. Cocktail condiments can be anything from Bitters and Sugar Syrup to Tabasco, horseradish and Grenadine.

Dirty

We like a Dirty Martini. Not just because it is an interesting variation on the good old Classic Martini but also because it sounds ever so slightly naughty. In reality all it means is that your martini is served with an olive and a little of the brine added to the mix. Simple.

Double strained

This is exactly what it says. After shaking, the drink is strained through both the regular cocktail strainer (which holds back the ice) and a second finer strainer such as a pulp or mesh strainer. This second device not only retains the finer bits and pieces of fruit in fruity cocktails but just as importantly, stops shards of ice from invading a Classic Martini (look out for this – it’s a good sign of a bartender that knows what they are doing).

Dry

Just like wine, cocktails are broken down into sweet and dry categories. Cocktails at the dry end of the scale tend to incorporate dry vermouth.

Flaming Zest

Perhaps most recognised in the Cosmopolitan, this action can genuinely enhance the citrus aroma and flavour of a cocktail but is just as important for the theatre when properly performed (without slipping into corny showboating). It involves taking a piece of citrus peel, usually orange, and squeezing the oils then igniting them over the drink. The peel is then wiped around the rim of the glass before dropping it in.

Flairing

We like to think of this as cocktail showboating. Remember Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail’? Those deft but quite frankly, unnecessary mixing moves juggling bottles, glasses and shakers are what is known as Flairing. Yes, there are still ‘flair’ competitions held around the country but take our advice: if you see your bartender demonstrating a back flip or any kind of frantic arm action other than Shaking or Throwing, run a mile.

Frosted Glasses

Some cocktails, particularly Martinis, love being cold.  We keep gin, vodka, vermouth and glasses in the freezer. Doing so with the latter not only ensures a very cold drink but also looks good. A glass retrieved from the freezer will instantly take on an elegant frost. Tastes good and looks good, too.

Garnish

This is the little piece of decoration you find in your glass. From the delicate and tradition lemon twist or olive in your martini, through to glace cherries, pieces of mint and orange to pieces of exotic fruit and rose petals.  Originally they were about enhancing flavour. Now they can now be more appearance. Neither is right or wrong.

Glassware

What you drink your cocktail from is not essential but consider this: do you really enjoy tea from a plastic cup? Would your favourite premium beer taste as good from a tumbler? There are a few special glasses which will enhance your cocktail drinking pleasure. Of course, there are far too many. And some are quite similar. Here are the ones that you really need to know. Martini Glass. Margarita Glass. Collins Glass. Highball Glass. Old-fashioned Glass. Shot Glass. Champagne Flute. Punch Cup.

Gomme

Sugar syrup. Usually added to drinks for extra sweetness and, perhaps more importantly, a little more body. As well as being purchased under this name it is easily made at home (that’s what Mr G and Ms S do). See Sugar Syrup.

Highball

The Highball is basically a spirit on ice with a carbonated mixer such as soda, ginger ale or cola. Perhaps the most well known is the classic Gin and Tonic.

Highball Glass (Collins Glass)

See Collins Glass.

Ice

An under-rated ingredient in the cocktail. More bars are now looking at how they produce ice with a view to how it affects the drink. (In some places should you order a simple whisky on the rocks you will find your glass no longer contains a handful of ice cubes but one very large piece of ice. Keeping your drink chilled with the minimum of dilution.) On a more day-to-day level it is important just to remember the vital parts ice plays in your cocktails. Don’t hold back. Not only will it make for a decently chilled drink but, whether shaking or stirring, it will subtly dilute your drink. So unless you are a fan of the Naked Martini, get plenty of ice in your glass.

Infusion

These are spirits that have a special ingredient added to them to seep into them over days, weeks or months. More and more we are seeing vodkas flavoured with the like of vanilla, fruit and pepper. Equally well known is Sloe Gin. The commercially produced efforts can taste a little synthetic but ones that are made with a little love and attention are delightful. Try making your own at home. (We do.) They make fantastic bases for cocktails as well as well as fantastic ice-cold shots.

Jigger

See Measure.

Liqueur

These are weird and wonderful drinks, often sweet and colourful, they are made by distilling neutral spirits with the like of fruits and herbs. Often consumed neat or with ice they have also become essential ingredients in the cocktail. A classic example being Cointreau. The opposite of a highball, these drinks are served in a short glass over ice.

Margarita Glass

Originally called the Coupette, this glass is now pretty much always called the Margarita Glass due simply to the fact that it is usually what it is used for.

Martini

Originally the name Martini refers very specifically to a gin or vodka and vermouth cocktail. Over the years it has evolved to describe any short drink in a classic Martini glass. Now it can contain any number of fresh fruits, infusions or whatever takes the bartender’s fancy. Incidentally, once upon a time all these other drinks, and many more besides, were simply called Fancy Drinks.

Martini Glass (Cocktail Glass)

This is the one we all know.  It is the classic: long stemmed with a V-shaped top. Once upon a time this was known as a Cocktail Glass. Now generally considered the Martini glass you are likely to see all sorts of subtle variations in its design. They also come in many sizes. Back in the 30’s they were tiny. Now they often accommodate a lot of liquid (often fruit juice) and consequently becoming increasingly large.

Measure

Sometimes called a Jigger. This is essential. Sometimes recipes refer to ounces, sometimes to ml and sometimes to the actual measures. Whatever, if you are mixing at home don’t guess. Get one of these little metal pieces of kit and measure. Your drinks really will taste better.

Mixers

The mixer is a soft drink that enhances the hard drink. Tonic (find a good one for your G ‘n’ T – we love Fever Tree), Ginger Ale, Orange Juice, Cola (only acceptable in Cubre Libra), cranberry (Where would ‘Sex And The City’ be without it?), Tomato Juice (all hail the Bloody Mary), Pineapple (just loves Rum). The golden rule is wherever possible use fresh fruit. Be wary of bars that pour from cartons, they are bad places.

Muddle

We love a good muddle. This is all about putting your ingredients in your shaker and pounding them. Best results are achieved with a muddler (no, really?). This is a big, fat, long piece of wood. However, pretty good results are also achieved with the opposite end of a barman’s mixing spoon.

Naked

This is a Martini for the hard core. Neither stirring nor shaking is involved. Instead we are treated to an ice cold Martini which is rinsed or sprayed with vermouth – either way it is minimal. The glass is filled with gin or vodka straight from the bottle, ice cold from the freezer. So basically you are drinking neat spirit. Beware.

Neat

‘Neat’ sounds like a governess, all prim, proper and orderly. In cocktail-speak the term refers to a single Spirit or Liqueur, served without ice, water or any other interference. As befits its purity, a Neat drink is servedStraight Up.

Old-Fashioned Glass

Similar to the Rocks Glass but not as robust. The clue is in the name here, it’s the vessel from which to enjoy an honest-to-goodness Old-Fashioned Cocktail. It is, however, also the perfect glass in which to savour Scotch.

Perfect

Usually used to describe a Manhattan that is neither too dry nor too sweet.

Proof

Think of this as the evidence you need to know how strong the alcohol content of your drink is. One degree of proof is equivalent to one half of a percent of alcohol volume. Therefore a spirit declaring it is 80 percent proof contains 40% alcohol. As a rule, alcohol in the UK is 37.5% abv (alcohol by volume) to save on excise duty (did we say that?)

Punch Cups

Once the domain of grannies and your slightly eccentric aunt, punch bowls and cups are becoming hot favourites on the cocktail scene. These delightfully old-fashioned cups are clear, rounded and similar looking to a teacup – perfect for showing off the fruity concoctions that add colour and personality to the best tasting punch. Look out for decorative punch bowls and matching glasses on eBay.

Rim

This can just mean carefully running a piece of citrus peel around the rim of the glass prior to dropping it in. Also this can also precede the adding of salt or sugar to the rim. After running the fruit around the glass it involves dipping the rim of the glass into the salt for something like a Margarita or the sugar for a Lemondrop. As well as adding to the pleasure of the drink it can, when neatly done, mean a very delightful drink.

Rocks

Any drink that is served with or over ice. Most commonly in a Short or Rocks glass (there’s the clue) but also in a Long or Highball glass such as when one is enjoying a Mojito.

Rocks Glass

Usually a robust tumbler. Perfect for any drink that needs ingredients to be muddled such as the Mojito.

Rolling

Think of a gentle to-ing and fro-ing motion, the equivalent of rocking your liquid baby to a state of pure contentment. It’s a wonderful, hypnotic movement requiring the careful pouring of the drink between two cocktail glasses and is usually used to blend the perfect Bloody Mary or any other drink made with tomato juice.

Served Long

Usually more diluted than a Short drink therefore perfect for summer or when a Martini-based option feels a little too full-on. A Long or Tall drink is anything over 4 fl oz in volume and served in a Collins or High-ball Glass.

Shaken

Well, this is what most of us have seen in most cocktail bars. In said places the shaking will almost certainly be taking place in a Boston Shaker. If you are shaking them up at home then it is perhaps more likely that you are using the elegant Standard Shaker. Either way it’s one of the most popular ways of putting a cocktail together. The ingredients are measured into the shaker along with a quantity of ice, secured with the metal half of the shaker (if you’re using a Boston shaker) or secured with a cap (if you’re shaking it up with a Standard model). Then it’s about shaking, shaking, shaking. How much? Follow the lead of our man Guiseppe from The Library Bar at The Lanesborough: “Is your hand cold yet?”  he asked Mr G at Havana Club Masterclass. “Yes” came the answer. “Then,” said the venerable Guiseppe, “you have shaken it enough.” This is usually considered the best way to put together a cocktail with strong fruit juice content. The shaken James Bond martini is a whole other story.

Shot Glass

The whole shot thing is not particularly appealing but these can be quite elegant glasses. Tiny with a heavy base they are generally associated with a hit of spirit such as vodka or tequila. However, consider them for delicious flavoured vodka as an after dinner drink or with a little champagne to accompany a fruity cocktail.

Sour

The confectionery equivalent of a Sour is the sherbet lemon – sharp, citrusy and acidic. This is one of the oldest drinks in cocktail history, dating back to 1700 or so in the UK and mid-1800s in the States. The key ingredients are lemon juice, sugar and your chosen spirit, the most popular being whisky, gin and rum. After a generous shake, the drink is poured into a sour glass and garnished with a stemmed maraschino cherry.

To create a Fizz, add soda.

Spirit

Any alcoholic drink which is produced by means of Distillation, including whisky, vodka, gin and rum.

Splash

This is where you can get yourself into a huge amount of trouble, particularly if you’ve already had a few and you’re making drinks at home. By definition a splash is a weeny bit more than a dash but less than an ounce. Yes, we know, it’s confusing but oh-so vital to get right. Take a tip and pour on to a spoon before carefully adding to your drink.

Standard Shaker

This is the one we generally think of when we think of Cocktail Shakers. Usually delightful in appearance due its deco associations, this is a self-contained piece with built-in strainer. An elegant and efficient tool for the home mixer. See also Boston Shaker.

Stirred

Although stirring may not have the obvious theatre of shaking it is actually the other most important way to build a cocktail. The ingredients are added to the mixing jug along with some ice. Then the fun starts. Some barmen mix gently a dozen or so times with the mixing spoon. Others mix vigorously. Others say it must be 20 times clockwise followed by 20 times in a clockwise direction. Whatever, this is a slightly more gentle way of crafting a cocktail. Perhaps most importantly, it is widely considered the best or correct way to mix a largely spirit-based cocktail (such as the the classic gin or vodka martini.)

Straight Up

This is the drink that most of us think of as a cocktail. Shaken or Stirred the drink is then strained into the classic cocktail glass without ice. Think Martinis and Daiquiris… If you don’t want ice in your finished drink be sure to ask for it Straight Up – especially if you find yourself in a lovely US bar.

Sugar Syrup

See Gomme.

Twist

A piece of citrus peel added as garnish to a cocktail. Usually taken from a lemon, but sometimes taken from orange or grapefruit. This should be carefully cut from the fruit, taking care to discard the pith (horrible). The ways in which it is added to the drink are countless. A small sliver, a long piece, roughly hewn, a rectangular strip or a long thin curly piece. None are wrong. All can be delightful.

Up

Another way of saying Straight Up. If you are ordering a Martini or Manhattan in the States, be sure and specify this.

Wheel

The citrus spiral finale to add colour, texture and a little bit of bite to a variety of sweet drinks. To create at home, use a sharp paring knife to make neat discs no more than ¼ inch wide. Cut a slice to the middle of the wheel and position on the edge of the glass.

Zest

Another word for the oily, very aromatic peel of lemon, orange, lime and occasionally, grapefruit zest used to add oomph to a variety of drinks. Carefully peel the skin off your chosen citrus fruit, avoiding the bitter pith. For maximum taste, release the oil by squeezing between the fingers over your drink before dropping into the liquid.

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