There’s no denying that the world of mixology is full of jargon. If there’s one thing we mixologists know (aside from how to mix a perfect drink, of course), it’s that we never just say what we mean! This is particularly true when it comes to how we serve drinks, with neat, straight, straight up, and up not giving someone who doesn’t know the lingo much chance of understanding. So we thought we’d clear things up for anyone learning about fixing drinks with a guide to their differences. Bottoms up!
To serve a drink neat simply means to serve the spirit on its own, free of any ice or mixers. It’s the simplest way to serve a drink; simply pour it into a glass, and you’re good to go. It’s also crucial to note that neat drinks are served at room temperature rather than chilled, unlike on the rocks where the alcohol is poured over ice. People who ask for a neat drink are essentially asking for a large shot of the good stuff but in a tumbler or Old Fashioned glass.
Whisky is the most common alcohol to be served neat, though you’ll also see it done with top-shelf brandy, vodka, and tequila, too.
Serving a drink up means that the alcohol has been chilled with ice. Prior to pouring, the spirit or liquor has been shaken or stirred with ice, usually in a cocktail shaker. It’s then strained into the glass, removing the ice from the drink and creating a cooler, slightly diluted alcohol. A drink served up is often poured into a glass with a stem, like a Martini glass, so that the hand doesn’t warm it when it’s held.
It’s been pretty simple up until now but straight is where things get a little more complicated. This is because different people use straight to mean different things. Commonly, it’s used to refer to a pour of darker spirits, such as whisky, without ice or a mixer. As you might have noticed, this is also a neat drink.
Others use it to describe a white spirit that’s been chilled, such as vodka and served in a stemmed glass. This is often referred to as straight up and an alternative to just saying up. Be warned, though, as some people also refer to straight up to describe a neat drink. We told you that it would get confusing!
In general, it’s best to stick to neat and up to describe your drinks. These have clearly defined definitions and should avoid any confusion.
At UrbanBar, we know everything there is to know about mixing and fixing drinks. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to check out our Educational Spirit Courses! With online lessons on how to create expertly crafted cocktails, it’s the perfect way to start your mixology journey.