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Beginners Cocktail Bar Knowledge No 1

March 28, 2020 by Tom Bronock

We’ve done the good thing for you and have decided to put a regular basic bar knowledge FAQ out there for all of your novices, home bartenders or just the curious.

You’ll not find an ounce of snobbery here, so we are prepared to answer the most basic questions out there…the ones you are too scared to ask. We’ll paper over those old cracks for you in now time! Welcome to the judgement free zone.

What Is The Difference Between “Whiskey” and “Whisky”?

Most hardened drinkers will sail through life not knowing the difference between whiskey and whisky….COME ON…this is a basic…

So its super simple and refers to the way the different whisky producers spell it. So our Scottish and Japanese friends spell it WHISKY. Our Irish and American friends spell it WHISKEY. Simple as that really. The difference drives from an original difference in the translation between the Irish and Scottish Gaelics forms. The Welsh also spell it whisky. We wrote a cool article on the first distillery in over 100 years in Wales and the awesome Penderyn Whisky.

What Does ABV Stand For?

Quite simply, ABV is the abbreviation for “alcohol by volume”. ABV is the standard measure of how much alcohol (also known as ethanol) is contained in a quantity of alcoholic drink. So for example, a 5% ABV  premium strength lager contains 5% ethanol (or alcohol) in the total quantity of the drink. The metric is number of millilitres of alcohol per 100ml of liquid. Easy. Not all beverages are created equal though. A big trend is on no alcohol and low alcohol drinks (known as no/lo) find out more about no/lo and other drinks trends here.

What Does Straight Up Mean?

Straight up is bar slang for a drink served neat. “Whisky straight Up” would refer to a measure of whisky with no ice, mixer or water. Straight up usually refers to sipping spirits with no ice.

What Is A Twist?

In cocktail culture, a twist on a cocktail refers to a variation of the original drink. For instance, a twist on the classic mojito cocktail might include adding fruit or other juices to change the recipe slightly, without a wholesale change to the original.

What Does “Muddle” Mean?

To muddle a cocktail refers to crushing ingredients, such as fruits, with a tool called a muddler, to make cocktails. Muddling ensures that fruits such as strawberries or limes, have all of their juice extracted for the cocktail. Muddling is a key technique in cocktail making.

Why Do Cocktails Use So Much Ice?

Ice in cocktails is ESSENTIAL. when mixing the drink it provide necessary dilution, which aids in fuse flavours and textures together. Without it you would find yourself with a cocktail that did not taste as it should. Filling a glass with ice is also essential. A full glass of ice, rather than a few cubes prevents the drink from watering down too quickly and most importantly keeps it cold. In the USA, you can be arrested for not putting enough ice in drinks (only joking but the guys in the USA demand ice cold drinks!)

What Is Mixology?

Mixology is the art of making cocktails. A mixologist is another word for a cocktail bartender and mixology refers to cocktail making.

What Is The Difference Between A Rocks, Highball And Martini Glass?

A rocks glass is a smaller, tumbler sized glass. A rocks is also known as a lowball or old fashioned glass. A high ball is a tall thinner glass. A martini glass is a v shaped, stemmed glass, also known as a cocktail glass. Check out some recipes that use this glassware in our cocktail recipe section.

What Is A Single and What Is A Double Measure?

A “single” refers to 25ml of spirit or liqueur  and a “double” refers to 50ml of spirit or liqueur. Usually this is accompanied by a mixer.



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