Writer's Guide: Writing about Alcoholic Drinks and Cocktails
Or how to write believable bar and nightclub scenes. I often find myself helping friends with their WIPs and often it as a bartender, I find myself having to correct them on bar and mixology terminology. So here's my quick guide to keeping your lingo on the straight and narrow.
DASH/SPLASH: a drop of a mixer such as juice or flavouring.
MIXER: non alcholic beveraged served with the measure of alcohol in the same glass.
NEAT: Plain, without any addition of ice or a mixture. Just the alcohol.
ON THE ROCKS: Served over Ice.
STRAIGHT UP: The cocktail is chilled with ice and strained into a glass with no ice
DIRTY – if somebody asks for a dirty martini, you add olive juice, the more juice the dirtier it is
DRY- A dry martini includes a drop of vermouth and an extra dry martini contains a drop of scotch swirled in the glass and drained before adding the gin
BACK – a ‘back’ is a drink that accompanies an alcholic beverage such as water or Coke, but isn't mixed.
GARNISH – something added to a drink such as a lime or lemon or orange.
TWIST - a twist is literally a twist of fruit skin in the drink.
BITTERS – a herbal alcoholic blend added to cocktails.
RIMMED - the glass is coated in salt or sugar to enhance the taste.
VIRGIN- non alcoholic
MOCKTAIL- a virgin cocktail
DOUBLE - Two measures of the same alcohol in the same glass. A bartender can only legally serve a double in the same glass. They cannot serve you a triple.
COCKTAIL SHAKER - it is a metal cup that fits into a glass, used to shake the components of your drink together with ice to chill it.
STRAINER- used to seperate ice in the shaker from the liquid within as you pour it into the glass.
MEASURES- these are little metal cylinders meant to measure out the pours of the alcohol. You pour the alcohol from the bottle into the measure and then put it into the glass. It's imperative that the right measure goes into the glass or the drink will taste of shit.
BAR SPOON – a long spoon meant to mix the drink.
OPTIC- it is a mechanism that attaches a bottle to an automatic pourer. The bartender usually fits the glass under the spout and pushes up to release the amount which cuts off at the single measure.
SHOT GLASS- a shot glass is a small glass to contain one measure
PINT GLASS- a glass used for serving pints of lager or ale
HALF PINT GLASS - a tulip shaped glass half the measure of a pint glass
SPEEDWELL/TAPS/DRAFT: are the taps used to pour beer from kegs stored under the bar floor.
SLIM JIM/HIGH BALL GLASS- It is a tall straight holding 8 to 12 ounces and used for cocktails served on the rocks such as a Gin and Tonic.
ROCKS GLASS - or an old fashioned glass, it is short and round. These glasses are used for drinks such as Old Fashioneds or Sazerac
COUPE GLASS- Are broad round stemmed glasses used for cocktails that are chill and served without ice such as a Manhattan, Boulevardier or a Gimlet
MARTINI GLASS - a martini glass is that classic stemmed "v" shaped glass, used to serve drinks without mixers such as Martini and Cosmopolitans
MARGARITA GLASS - is a large, round bowl like glass with a broad and a tall stem used for Margaritas and Daiquiris
HURRICANE GLASS- a tall tulip-like shaped glass with a flared rim and short stem. It holds 20 ounces which means it is the perfect glass to serve iced cocktails in such as Pina Colada, Singapore Sling, Hurricane
Vodka- Vodka is made from potatoes or fermented cereal grains. It has a strong taste and scent. It is usually consumed neat with a mixer such as Coke or Orange juice or cranberry juice or in cocktails like Martini, Bloody Mary and Cosmopolitan.
Whisky/Whiskey- Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage, made from fermented grain mash such as barley, corn, rye, and wheat. It gets its flavour form being fermented in casks for long period of time. When serving a whiskey, one asks whether they want ice or a mixer. Everyone has their own preference. I prefer mine like myself, strong and Irish. Scotch is Scottish Brewed whisky.
Rum- Rum is made by fermenting and distilling sugarcane molasses/juice. It is aged in oak barrels. It has a sweet taste.
Beer: is made out of cereal grains and served chilled in bottles or pulled from taps/speedwells.
Ale: Ale in the middle ages referred to beer brewed without hops (a kind of flowering plant that gives beer its bitter taste). It is sweeter and would typically have a fruity aftertaste.
Stout- is a darker beer sometimes brewed from roasted malt, coming in a sweet version and dry version, the most famous stout being Guinness.
Poitín- (pronounced as pot-cheen) is made from cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses and potatoes. It is a Dangerous Drink (honestly i still don't know how I ended up in that field with a traffic cone and a Shetland pony) and technically illegal. Country folk in Ireland used to brew it in secrets in stills hidden on their land.
Vermouth: Is made from infused with roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs, spices, brandy but vermouth is classed aromatized wine. It comes sweet or dry
Gin- is made from juniper, coriander, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond or liquorice and grain alcohol. Gin has a strong scent and taste and is usually served in a martini or a tonic water.
Schnapps- refers to any strong, clear alcoholic beverage. It is considered one of the best types of spirits because of its pure and delicate aroma. Lesson: never drink peach schnapps.
Cocktails and Drinks
Irish Coffee: an Irish coffee is adding whiskey to coffee and sugar and topping it with cream. As a bartender, I would honestly rather cut my arm off than make one of these.
Baby Guinness: Is a shot made by pouting Tia Maria or Kaluah into a shot glass and spreading Baileys on the top so it looks like a small pint of Guinness.
Silver Bullet: a shot of mixed tequila and sambuca.
Long Island Iced Tea: The Long Island contains vodka, gin, tequila, light rum, lemon juice, triple sec and cola. It has a real kick.
Mai Tai: is made with light and dark rum, lime juice, orange curacao, orgeat syrup and rock candy syrup and served with a mint garnish.
Manhattan: The Manhattan is made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.
Margarita: The margarita is made with tequila, cointreau and lime juice.
Mojito: a mojito is made with muddled mint, white rum, lime juice, simple syrup and soda.
Martini: a martini is made of gin, dry vermouth and garnished with a lemon twist or olives.
Mimosa: a mimosa is a made with sparkling wine and orange juice.
Mint Julep: Made with Kentucky bourbon, simple syrup, mint leaves and crushed ice
Pina Colada: is made with white rum, dark rum, pineapple juice and coconut cream
Screwdriver: Vodka and Orange juice
Tequila Sunrise: tequila, orange juice and grenadine
Tom Collins: made with spiked lemonade, sparkling water, lemon juice, simple syrup and gin
Whiskey Sour: is made with powdered sugar, seltzer, lemon juice and whiskey.
White Russian: made with vodka, coffee liqueur and cream.
Black Russian: made with two parts coffee liqueur and five parts vodka.
Gin and Tonic: gin served with tonic water
Bloody Mary: made with vodka and tomato juice mixed with lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, fresh herbs, brown sugar and cracked black pepper.
Brandy Alexander: served straight up and made with brandy, cognac, creme de cacao and cream
Cosmopolitan: Made with citrus vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice and fresh lime juice
Daiquiri: made with rum, lime juice and sugar.
Gimlet: gin and lime juice
My Top 10 Bartending Rules and Responsibilities
Overpouring is never an option. You can seriously hurt somebody by overpouring, not to mention spoil the drink and ruin your sales. You only serve people what they ask and never more.
When somebody has had enough, you stop serving them. After a while, you know when to cut somebody off.
Never leave bottles on the counter or in reach of customers. Your expensive spirits should never be in reach of anybody but you.
If you tell somebody your selling them premium and top shelf alcohol, you cannot substitute with cheaper licqor. It's illegal.
As a bartender, your eyes always have to be scanning a crowd. You can't leave people hanging.
The golden rule - if you see somebody messing with someone's drink, you chuck it if you can or warn the person. And you get that son of a bitch out of your pub.
50% of the job is cleaning. You have to clean your tools constantly. You cannot reuse measures and spouts, you have to wash everything. Beer traps are clean out every night, rubber mats are washed and anything you have used has to be clean.
You have to hand dry your glasses. You never polish a pint glass as it fucks up the pint. You polish your cocktail glasses, shot glasses and straight glasses.
If someone seems down or on their own, you try make conversation. Often you'll hear some disturbing stuff but always try lend an ear or make everyone feel included.
If you break a glass in the ice bucket, you got to get rid of the ice.