Wet Bar Wednesday – Definitions

I haven’t had a chance to try a new drink this week, so rather than send you another untested one, I thought I’d spend a moment on terminology.

Mixed drinks are relatively easy to order because they’re mixed, generally with ice.  However there is a class of drinks that can be served with ice or without (though in both cases chilled).  There are other drinks that can be served with ice, but not necessarily (and are not necessarily chilled).  Knowing how to order what you want requires an understanding of the parlance.

On the Rocks – this refers to a drink that is served over ice.  Sometimes the ingredients of the drink (or a portion of them) are first mixed/shaken/stirred with ice, then strained into a glass with ice.  Other times (like with a Jack & Coke), the alcohol and the mixer are poured together directly into a glass with ice.  Either way, if you order something on the rocks, you’re going to get a glass with ice in it.  Most drinks in this category are pretty basic, since both the initial shaking with ice (if that occurs) or the pouring into a glass with ice results in meltage – ice melting and diluting the drink.  For a basic drink (a single liquor and a mixer) meltage isn’t too big a deal.  For other, more subtle and crafted drinks, meltage can really dilute the flavor of the drink, and so you want to minimize it.

Straight Up – refers to a drink that is mixed or shaken with ice, but then strained into a glass without ice.  This reduces meltage (since the drink isn’t sitting in a glass of melting ice), but there is some meltage from the initial mixing/shaking with ice.  If keeping the drink cold is a priority, it’s a practice to fill the glass the drink will be served in with ice while the drink is being mixed, then to dump out the ice right before the drink is strained into the glass.  Another option to keep drinks cold and minimize the dilution of meltage is to use other materials that can be frozen or chilled and put them into the glass.  An example of this is a whiskey stone, which can be frozen/chilled ahead of time and put into the glass to cool the liquid without diluting it.  Another option is to use ice, but to minimize meltage by using a single large piece of ice, sometimes spherical.  Less meltage is supposed to occur than if you’re using cubed or crushed ice.

Neat – while there is frequently confusion about this, neat generally means a drink that is not chilled in any way.  It is usually a single liquor (no mixer, no other ingredients), and is poured directly into an unchilled glass and served.  This is for drinking more refined/higher quality/more expensive liquors.  Or for simply getting a drink into yourself as quickly as possible.  

Enjoy!

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