Bartending Terms and What They Actually Mean

If you are a newbie when it comes to bars you probably hear a lot of terminology being yelled out that does not make any sense to you. And if you are anything like me, you might be too intimidated to actually ask someone what a term means. No worries, here is a quick guide and definitions to some of the more common terminology that you might hear from a bartender.


Now this is a common term not only used in bars but also in restaurants and any establishment that serves food and drinks. It means that you are running out of something or that you want to get rid of something. A bartender can yell out to the staff to 86 the margaritas because they are running out of tequila or they can tell the manager to 86 a patron because they have had too much to drink. The use of the term supposedly dates back to the 1930’s restaurant industry, but a popular belief is that it came from the Prohibition-era at a bar called Chumley’s at 86 Bedford Avenue in New York City. The story goes that a paid-off police officer would tell a bartender to 86 his customers when a raid was about to happen.


An up drink is a drink that has been chilled through by shaking or stirring then strained into an empty glass with no ice. The origin dates back to 1874 and most likely meant that a customer wanted a drink served in a glass with a stem.


When you order a Neat drink it means that the alcohol will be poured from the bottle into a glass and served at room temperature without any ice. Most likely this term was used in the late 16th century to signify or order unadulterated wine.

Behind the Stick

This means that the bartender is working behind the bar performing the actual bartending rather than managerial tasks. The term ‘stick’ refers to the tap handles that are used for pouring glasses of beer, but this is not confirmed.

Building a Drink

This is where you add ice to a glass and then add the spirit and mixers. How you pour the drink afterwards depends on how you are serving the drink. For example if you are serving a martini you build the drink in a glass by adding the ice, the gin, the vermouth and possibly the bitters, stirring it and then straining. If you were to build a margarita, you pour the ingredients into a glass, shake and strain.

Rolling a Drink

This is seldom used term for mixing a drink. What you do is that you build a drink in a mixing glass and then gently pour it into a shaker tin or another mixing glass to mix the drink together. Bloody Mary’s sometimes are made in this fashion because if you shake them the tomato juice can become all foamy.

Half the fun of going to a bar is being able to learn all of the terminology and use it in practice. Now when you go to a bar, you’ll be able to confidently say these few terms to the bartender and enjoy your evening.

Original Article:

Sign Up for Email Updates

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.