Man Skills: Order a drink like a man

12 06 2011

"Do I look like I drink WKD?" Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

I am as guilty as you when it comes to not having a clue about different aspects of bar slang or drink terminology. Before doing some research, if you’d have asked me to order a manly sounding drinks with the scraps of bar terminology I do know, I would end up with something so disgusting, even Kerry Katona wouldn’t drink it.

In my mind I have images of Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr being able to specify a sophisticated drink with ease…

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve decided you’re tired of ordering hum-drum industrially brewed lagers, ciders and alcopops? If you looking for a more sophisticated drink of choice. In my mind I have images of Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr being able to specify a sophisticated drink with ease. Having this vocabulary down will make you appear assertive and project confidence to others. Without further ado, whether your tipple is whisky, martini, vodka or rum, here’s the essential vocab to own that bar with minimal effort:

On The Rocks

This is probably the most commonly quoted drinks phrase and the best known. But just in case you don’t know, to order a drink “On the rocks” is to have the drink poured over ice without mixer or “wash”.


Straight out of the bottle. Nothing added nothing taken away. The drink is usually associated with when someone is having a bitch of a day.

Straight Up

Not to be confused with straight. To order something straight up is to imply you want a drink that is chilled in a cocktail shaker and then strained into a martini glass typically.


Alludes to when your drink is impure, i.e has the taste of something else. Like olives in a martini to make it taste more piquant (pictured).

Wash, Mixer

I think wash is more common across the Atlantic but mixer is a bit more common in the UK. Pretty much any non-alcoholic drink or juice can constitute a mixer.


  • This is an easy one to remember. For drinks like Cosmopolitans or Margaritas, the bartender will rim the glass with sugar or salt. Not to be confused with a rim job, where the bartender punches you in the face… or worse, gives you a rim job.

Chaser, Back

  • A chaser is something that is drank after a shot. Typically beer. Not my idea of fun but some people enjoy them with amusing consequences:


Serves as the Pièce de résistance when ordering a more simplistic drink. The barman takes a twist of typically lemon or lime and serves it on the rim of your glass. This is one for the wine bars but if you do order it at your local, I wish you well!


I’m a big fan of muddling! It’s more of a technique than an order, but it involves crushing (often manually) and mixing ingredients to release the flavour. My favourite drink is Cachaça muddled with limes, sugar and ice to make a Caipirinha (pictured). Classic holiday drink.


Not technically the same thing but the concepts are similar. It’s when a drink is layered either with on the top (float) or several times (layered)

Now you know! You’ll be more Clark Gable than Jonny Vegas.

More tomorrow





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