Drink Warehouse UK Blogs

Published on March 12th, 2024.

Bartending Terms: The Lingo You Need To Know

What do you mean limes are 86ed?

Step into the world of bartending terms, where every term tells a story of mixology mastery! Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, understanding bartender terminology is key to mastering the craft. Don’t fret; learning these bartending terms is a breeze – most are self-explanatory and easy to grasp. Think of the list below as your ultimate bartender’s dictionary, guiding you from A to Z through the fascinating world of bar lingo.

Bartending Terms Whilst Working


86ed: Bar slang for running out of or discontinuing an item.


Behind/Backs: A term to say when you’re walking behind someone to avoid a collision.


Behind the pine: Working behind the bar.


Burn the ice: The ice must be removed! This could be due to glass breakage or spills contaminating the ice well, marked by a red ‘x’ sprayed across the ice with grenadine. Alternatively, it might be the end of the night, and the ice needs to be melted with hot water.


Corner: A cue similar to “behind,” used to alert others when navigating around a corner while carrying something hot or full.


Clopen: To close the bar, and then to be the one to open it the next day.


Comp: To remove something from a bill or give to a guest for free.


In the weeds: Being so busy you can’t catch up.


Mise en place: To prepare everything ahead of time, such as bottles stocked, garnishes prepped and everything in place.


On the fly: as quickly as possible.


Service Area: The designated zone where bartenders enter and exit the bar, typically utilized by servers to collect drinks for guests. Avoid standing here to maintain the smooth flow of the bar and ensure prompt service for all patrons.


Speed Rail / Speed Rack: A dedicated space at the bar where the most used liquors and liqueurs are stored, allowing bartenders to efficiently prepare drinks without needing to move around the bar for ingredients. Typically, there are multiple speed rails installed, often containing house or well ingredients for easy access during service.


Turn: When one guest’s experience concludes, and the next customer is welcomed.

Bartending Terms Whilst Drink Making


Back: Typically, a mixer served over ice alongside the alcoholic drink. Example – Vodka with a Coke back.


Build:  An alternative term used to describe the process of making a drink, particularly when assembling longer-form cocktails such as a Mai Tai or a Mojito.


Call drink: When someone orders a drink by specific brand. Example – Disaronno and Coke.


Chaser:  A beverage consumed immediately after a shot, often to cleanse the palate. While typically used after a shot, some individuals may also chase sips of neat liquor with their chaser.


Dirty: Adding olive brine to a drink.


Double: A double shift, or double to alcohol served in a drink.


Dry: A martini is dry when there is a reduced amount of vermouth.


Dry Shake: To shake a drink without ice.


Flame: To literally take a flame to a garnish.


Free Pour: To pour without a method of measuring.


Frost: To rapidly chill a glass, making the outside frosty.


Garnish: Like adding cherries to sundaes, garnishes provide the finishing touch to a cocktail, enhancing its appearance and sometimes adding a hint of flavour. While orange, lemon, and lime slices are the most common garnishes, there’s a wide range of options available to complement various drinks.


House: Refers to the bar’s selection of standard or default liquors, such as house gin, which is the designated choice for well gin. These liquors are typically lower in cost and serve as the standard offerings at the bar.


Jigger: A bar tool used to measure ml.


Mist: An alternative to ordering a drink “on the rocks,” where instead, you request “on mist,” indicating that you prefer ice chips. This method quickly chills the drink and adds a subtle level of dilution.


Mixers: Non-alcoholic ingredients, such as lemonade or juice.


Muddle: To crush ingredients together with a muddler.


Neat: Served in a rocks glass sans ice.


On the rocks: Served over ice.


Rinse: The act of briefly and lightly introducing an ingredient to a cocktail by swirling it around the glass before discarding it.


Single: A standard measure of alcohol, usually 25ml.


Smoke: The process of infusing a drink with smoky flavour by lightly torching wood chips or a wooden plank. The resulting smoke is captured in a cloche or cocktail glass, either before or after the cocktail is prepared.

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