Cocktail Glossary

Here are a few mixing terms commonly used in cocktail recipes...


Build – To make a drink in the same glass that it will be consumed from – ie, add ice, spirit and mixer without the need to shake or strain.

Cap – Addition of a nice pyramidal shape of crushed ice to a drink – creates a higher beverage that looks more appealing that a flat-topped cocktail.

Chill – Prepare you serving glasses before you start your cocktail – it will ensure the cocktail remains colder for longer.  Add ice and water to your cocktail glass to chill it.  Then discard the cocktail glass contents before you strain your cocktail.

Churn – the action of using the back of a barspoon to mix the drink – usually with crushed or flaked ice.  An example is a Mojito or churned caipirinha.

Dirty -i.e. a ‘Dirty Martini’ – this is when your martini is served with an olive and a small amount of brine added to the cocktail mix.

Double Strained - After shaking, the cocktail is first strained through a regular cocktail strainer which holds back the ice and then a second finer strainer which retains the finer pieces of pulp but also stops tiny shards of ice appearing in say a Classic Martini.

Float – Carefully layering one ingredient over another, particularly to create a desired floating effect.  Essentially, adding a final layer to a cocktail.  For example:  Addition of Creme de Mure to a Bramble.

Gomme – This is sugar syrup added to drinks for extra sweetness and to add body. This can be either bought or made at home. Dissolve 2 parts sugar into 1 part boiling water, stirring constantly. Once completely dissolved remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken.

Infusion – This is when a spirit has had another ingredient e.g. vanilla, pepper, or fruit added to them and been left to steep for days, weeks or months.

Layer – Usually used in the preparation of specialty shooters – this method was popular in the 90’s and uses the different densities of alcohols and liqueurs to layer one on top of the other (internet search for densities before you attempt it to ensure they will float – EgB52 shooter.  Use the back of a bar spoon for easier results and do it slowly to ensure there is no mixing.

Muddle – Pressing of whole fruits or pieces of fruit with a “muddling stick or baton”.  This squeezes juices and oils from citrus fruits and also squashes soft berries to mix into the drink more readily.

Shake – for the Tom Cruise in us – shaking, as implied is moving the ice from one end of the tin and shaker to other in a vigorous backwards and forwards motion.  This rapidly chills a drink and also dilutes it at a much faster rate.  These drinks will need to be fine strained to remove ice chips and fruit pulp.

Stir – As the name suggests, stirring a drink in a boston glass or tin with cubed ice in a circular fashion.  It is a method to chill a drink without excessively diluting it – For example:  A Gin Martini or Manhattan.  These drinks will need to be strained with a Julep strainer.

Swizzle – Is similar to churning except you rub the swizzle stick between the palms of your hand (as they move backwards and forwards) as you would if you were trying to make fire from sticks.

Throwing – Is a more advanced technique of pouring the contents of one shaker to another, but from a distance.  This action aerates the cocktail and chills it while not diluting the cocktail too much – in between shaking and stirring.  For the brave, blazers (cocktails on fire) can be produced by this method like the famous Blue Blazer by Jerry Thomas.

Zest – is the name given to the extraction of citrus oils over the top of a cocktail before serving.  This elevates the sense of smell before sipping the cocktail and heightens the aroma.  An example is the cosmopolitan (although burning of zest is not recommended as it burns the zest and leaves an oily residue rather than a crisp orange note).

Contact us if you have any other terms that you need help demystifying