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8 Essential Terms for Spirits & Cocktails October 11, 2018

Upper West Side, Manhattan
8 Essential Terms for Spirits & Cocktails, Manhattan, New York

When you’re ordering a drink, make sure you are getting your spirits delivered exactly as you like them. Certain terms tell bartenders how to fix the drink to your liking, and knowing how to order ensures they serve exactly what you want. If you like to be the bartender at social gatherings, it’s also helpful to understand what these phrases mean, so you can serve delicious libations to your guests. Here is a brief guide to essential cocktail phrases.

8 Key Spirit Serving Phrases to Know

1. On the Rocks

When you want a drink poured over ice cubes, order it on the rocks. This term is a common one that anyone serving or ordering spirits will know.

2. Neat

If you want a drink of spirits with nothing else, including ice and mixers, order it neat. The server will know to pour the drink into the glass without changing anything about it, including its temperature.

3. Straight Up

When you want a cocktail chilled, but don’t want it poured over ice, ask for it straight up, or simply up.

4. Twist

For those who like a little citrus in their drink, ask for a twist. Bartenders will add a lemon, lime, or orange peel to the beverage.

5. Dirty

spiritsUsually reserved for martinis, dirty means adding olive brine to the mix. The salty notes add extra kick to the drink.

6. Dry

This is another martini term. Dry means less Vermouth, which reduces the sweetness of the drink. Nowadays, other cocktails can be ordered dry when you want less sugar.

7. Shaken

Shaken spirits are prepared by shaking the ingredients with ice, leading to more oxygen in the mixture and a more diluted final product.

8. Stirred

Stirred indicates stirring spirits with ice, which is better for stronger blends. This process results in a smoother finish on the palate.


To stock up on spirits for your next social gathering or dinner party, stop by Martin Brothers Wine & Spirits in the Upper West Side. For more than 30 years, they have been the neighborhood’s most trusted wine and liquor store. They have an extensive inventory of wines, scotch, champagne, and other spirits, and will help you find your favorite at an affordable price. Call (212) 222-8218 or stop by their website to learn more about their inventory.

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