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Bar Terminology

86, 86’ed – Typically refers to a product that is out of stock.  Can refer to a product or a customer who has been removed from the property.

Alcohol by Volume – (ABV) used to measure the alcohol content of a beverage.  A beverage’s ABV is equal to half of the proof.

All Day – meaning total of products being prepared. e.g. “I need 2 more Rum and Cokes.  That’s 4 - all day.”

BAC –  Blood Alcohol Content; a legal measurement of how much alcohol is in the bloodstream;  milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

Back of the House – refers to the parts of the restaurant the customers do not usually have access to: the kitchen, prep area, dishroom, offices, store rooms.  Can also refer to the personnel who work in those areas.  

Bank – refers to the money that the bar started with in the register.  Each bartender typically has a bank provider for them. 

Bar back –  a bartender helper who restocks and runs errands for the bartender.  Duties can vary from pouring drafts, running food and beverages, stocking anything and everything, calling cops, running to the bank or store. 

Barista – a coffee tender, maker of espresso, cappuccinos and the like.

Bar Fly – one who frequents or hangs at a bar.

Bar Time – Bar time is usually 15-20 minutes faster than the rest of the clocks in the time zone.  It doesn’t matter what your watch says.  It’s a bar, its bar time, don’t argue.

Behind – a verbal warning called out when walking behind others so as to prevent them from stepping short or back or sideways into you and knocking a tray of food or drinks (or worse) out of your hands. 

Burn – to throw away or write off wasted or over-made product.

Bus, Busser – to clean tables; one who, among very many other duties, cleans tables.

Bistro – a laid back informal European style restaurant, generally on the small side (Sips only has 8 tables plus 5 seats at the bar).  Believed to be taken from Russian, meaning fast.

Bouncer – a typically large employee who watches the door and keeps order, physically when necessary.

Call – refers to a named spirit used in a drink; above the well liquor.  Absolut is a typical call vodka, whereas some cheap swill like Popov would be the low-budget well vodka in the speed rack.

Carafe – a glass bottle with a flared opening used to serve wine.

Chaser, Back, Sidecar – Beverage accompanying a shot used to help one deal with the aftertaste of whatever they’re drinking.  

Clinking – the act of tapping 2 glasses together, which makes the glass holders drink.  It is bad manners (and bad juju) to not take the glass directly to your mouth after clinking.  Also known as toasting or tapping.

Comp – short for complimentary; refers to food, drink, swag, whatever given to a guest for free for many different reasons.  Could be a VIP, or to make up for shortcomings, or as a marketing device.  

Corkage – the fee charged by an establishment to a guest who brings their own wine.  The price of corkage will vary from restaurant to restaurant – at Sips, Bill is apt to waive corkage for those buying wine in our wine shop.  

Corked – wine ruined by a faulty cork; air has entered the bottle.

Corner – a verbal warning called out to warn others when you’re coming around a blind corner.  As with “Behind”, this warning can/will/has prevented many a disaster.

Cut off – occurs when the bartender stops serving you drinks

Dash – approximately 1/2 tsp.

Decant – to pour out a bottle of wine into another container to aerate it, or to remove sediment.

Designated Driver – the person who stays sober to drive when necessary, and eventually take embarrassing pictures of their friends doing crazy stuff, or in odd passed-out positions.

Distillation – a process to purify or separate a substance by heating.

Dive – a lower-class drinking establishment; can be warm and friendly or full of trouble.  Usually the drink prices are lowest at your favorite dive.

Dry – pertaining to wine it means without sweetness; pertaining to a martini it refers to little or no dry vermouth

Fermentation – a chemical reaction where yeast produces alcohol from a sitting starch, i.e. sugar.

Finish – the last taste left by a drink in the mouth

Fire – means to start cooking or preparing.  As in, “Ok, my guest has her burger.  You can fire that milkshake now.”

Foodie - a connoisseur of food.

Free Pour – to pour a cocktail without the use of a measuring device, such as a jigger; measuring by eye and memory.  You must practice to free pour successfully.  

Front of the House – refers to the part of a restaurant that a customer sees.  The bar, dining room, hostess station are all Front of House.  Also refers to the staff who work in these areas.

Fruit Tray – the tray of fruit garnish at the bar, usually consisting of lemon and lime wedges and / or twists, orange wedges, cherries, olives, cocktail onions and any other garnishes necessary for the establishments’ house drinks.

Hophead – a beer aficionado.

House Rules - Rules that apply to the location that you work at, rather than laws or statues.

In the Weeds – busy.  An extremely hectic and unpleasant working environment.  Can happen when a server is seated too heavily, or when a single guest makes requests one after another and monopolizing the server time instead of asking for everything at once or in advance.

Last Call – warning from the bartender to place last requests for alcohol.

Line, The Line – section of the restaurant where food is prepared from the back-of-house side and presented and prepped for running on the front-of-house side.  The FOH side of the line is the crucial point where the plates are presented, examined, checked for accuracy  and completed with all necessary garnish in order for precise and prompt delivery to occur.

Marry – process of combining two or more bottles into fewer containers, i.e.  ketchup or wine.  

Mickey Finn – an ancient term for a drink that has been drugged or overdosed with intention to cause the victim unconscious.

Mist – a term meaning “on the rocks”, preferably with shaved or crushed ice.  It comes from the fact that certain clear liqueurs cloud or mist when poured over ice

Mixologist – clean term for bartender; flip side of the coin would be intoxicologist

Muddle – mashing ingredients together (i.e. mint and sugar) to release essential oils and fragrances from herbs or fruit.

Neat – a drink served straight up, no ice, not mixed, not chilled.  Just liquor in a glass.

On The Fly – I need it immediately, asap, yesterday.  Or faster.

On The Rocks – on ice

Perfect – describes a drink made with equal amounts of dry and sweet vermouth

Punt – the indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle.  Originally, punts were a way of preventing the jagged pontil mark from scratching the surface of a table.  When mold-made bottles were introduced, the punt remained due to the stability it adds to the upright bottle.  But with Champagne bottles, the story is a little different.  During the second fermentation massive pressure is built up inside the bottle’s glass wall.  The punt allows for a more even distribution of pressure inside the bottle.

Runner – the kind person who brings you your food or beverages when your main server is unavailable.  They are also responsible for ensuring the goods come out complete and correct, as well as making sure the guests are all set to enjoy their meal before walking away.

Running Duties – the mundane tasks, ideally tackled during the slow parts of one’s shift, that are needed to keep an establishment running efficiently.  They include stocking, sweeping, wiping walls, prepping fruits or juices, rolling silverware, or folding napkins.

Sediment – a natural and common collection of particles at the bottom of a wine bottle

Shot – a type of drink typically thrown down the throat.  This pour will generally measure 1 to 2 oz, depending on how much your bartender likes you.

Soldier – a full beer bottle

Speed Rack – stainless steel wells used to hold bottles behind the bar.  Filled and organized strategically for maximum drink-making efficiency.

Spirit – any alcohol that is distilled

Splash – approximately 1/2 tsp

Steps of Service – the structured guidelines to service standards for a given establishment. 

Tannin – very basically, a natural acid that escapes the grape skins and stems into the juice and adds color and tartness to the wine.

Tip – an additional sum of money given to show extra thanks for services rendered.  Soon to be the subject of its own post.

Top – refers to the number of people at a table.  

Top Off – to refill a glass or freshen up a drink.

Top Shelf – refers to the finest liquor available, usually kept up on the highest shelves.  

Training Wheels – the salt and lime (verde o amarillo) which typically accompany a shot of Tequila.

Turn Over (tables) – every time a party leaves and a new party comes is a turn over.  Turning over tables is crucial to waitstaff income, which is why you should be tipping extra for monopolizing a table.

Ullage – The space between the cork of a wine bottle and the wine, or the bottle cap and the beer.  Also is the 1st or last beer out of a keg, generally discarded.

Vermouth – a wine which has had brandy added as well as 50 or more herbs and spices

Vintage – the year of the grape harvest in any given wine.  Non-vintage means grapes from 2 or more years were used

Weeper – a wine bottle with a leaky cork.  This doesn’t necessarily mean the contents have spoiled, but they may have.

Well – the generic liquor used in a basic drink.  If one orders a vodka collins, the well liquor will be used.

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Bar Essentials