A large plant indigenous to Mexico that looks like a cross between a giant pineapple and a cactus. The plant is actually a member of the lily family. There are hundreds of varieties of agave, both cultivated and wild.


The process of storing wine and spirits in wood barrels for a period of time to remove harsh flavour notes and add specific characteristics found in the wood. The age, previous use and size of the barrels determine the oak effects. The barrels are often charred inside to introduce additional flavours from caramelized sugars in the oak.


Ales are one of the two beer categories (lagers are the other). Ales are generally darker in colour than lagers, and are brewed for shorter periods at warmer temperatures.


Almond and apricot-flavoured liqueur, originally made in Italy, but now made in other countries as well.


Tequila that's been aged for at least one year in sealed oak barrels.


A drink before the main meal to stimulate the palate. Can encompass anything from wine (flavoured, aromatized and fortified wines) to cocktails and champagne.

Aromatized wines

Wines that are flavoured with herbs, spices and fruits. Examples include vermouth and other French and Italian aperitifs.


Bar Spoon

A long-handled spoon for stirring cocktails. Some are made in one piece with a twisted stainless-steel handle to aid in twirling the spoon. Others are made in two pieces, with a shaft that revolves inside a sleeve.


Malted barley, water, yeast and hops are used to make beer, which is the world's oldest alcoholic spirit. Beers come in two categories: ales, which are dark and full-bodied, and lagers, which are lighter in colour and have a brisker taste.


A cocktail where beer is the base spirit.


An alcoholic beverage made from citrus and herbs that is typically used as a flavouring in cocktails

Blended Scotch Whisky

A blend of single malt Scotch whiskies and mixed grain whisky. The whiskies are aged separately then blended and aged together for several months in casks.

Blended Straight Whiskey

A minimum of 20% straight whiskeys at 50% alc./vol., blended with neutral grain whiskey or light whiskey.

Blue Agave Tequila

One-hundred percent blue agave tequila is distilled from the fermented sugars of the Weber blue agave plant only, and must be bottled in Mexico. Like all tequila, 100% blue agave tequila can be aged or unaged. Agave plants are related to the lily family. They take eight to ten years to mature to the point where they can be used for tequila production, so the tequila made from 100% agave is more expensive to produce than mixed or blended tequila.

Boston Shaker

A shaker that does not have a built-in strainer. It consists of two parts: a large metal tumbler and a small tumbler (or pint glass).


American whisky made from a mash of between 51% to 75% corn (which include a small amount of barley, and either rye or wheat fills out the rest), usually aged two years in charred oak barrels.


Distilled spirit derived from fermented fruit.



One of the world's best known cocktails, a Caesar is a made from vodka, tomato juice and a pinch of salt and pepper, respectively. Caesars are garnished with a stalk of celery and may also be prepared with Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and other flavourings.

Canadian Whisky

A whisky made from water, yeast, corn, rye and barley grains. Canadian whisky is distilled in accordance with the regulations governing the production of whisky in Canada and is typified by its smooth taste.


A sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of Northeast France. Champagne is made from primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.


A mixed drink, usually made from vodka, whisky, rum, gin or tequila mixed with fruit juice or other mixers. A typical cocktail is served cold.

Coffee Liqueur

A sweet, coffee-flavoured liqueur.


A type of brandy named after the French district of Cognac.

Cordial (or Liqueurs)

Sweet liqueurs flavoured with fruits, herbs, botanicals and spices. Most cordials are under 35% alcohol.

Crème de Cacao

Liqueur made from cocoa beans and bottled in two styles, dark and clear.

Crème de Cassis

A liqueur made from black currant.

Crème de Menthe

Mint-flavoured liqueur made in two colours, green and clear (white). The green is traditionally served frapped over crushed ice, and the white (clear) is an ingredient in classics like the Grasshopper.

Crushed Ice

A liqueur first made from small, bitter Curaçao oranges, it comes in white, orange and blue, the colour being the only difference. Curaçao matches well with rum, lime and juices.


A liqueur first made from small bitter, Curaçao oranges, it comes in white, orange and blue-the colour being the only difference. Curaçao matches well with rum, lime and juices.



Made from rum, triple sec and lime juice, a Daiquiri can be blended with ice or prepared with different fruits or mixers.

Dark Rum

These rums are typically pot distilled and made from molasses.


The smallest bar measurement, 1/32 oz.


An alcoholic drink served after dinner. Common digestifs include brandy, sherry and port.


The process of separating parts of a liquid mixture through evaporation and condensation. Distillation is used to produce concentrated beverage alcohol, called ethanol.

Dry (cocktail)

Indicates how much vermouth is in a cocktail. For example, a Dry Martini is prepared with less vermouth than a regular Martini.

Dry (wine)

Denotes a bitter, tart or crisp tasting wine.



Slang for "out of stock" products behind the bar or customers who are barred from entering the premises. Thought to have originated during Prohibition at Chumley's, a bar in New York City, which did a brisk business as a speakeasy.

Ethyl Alcohol

Beverage alcohol produced by the fermentation of a sugar solution.



A process that breaks down sugar molecules into carbon dioxide gas and ethyl alcohol. This change is accomplished by a microorganism called yeast, which is classified as a plant and reproduces itself rapidly in a solution containing sugar.


A word sometimes used in the name of a drink to indicate the cocktail has been made with a carbonated beverage, such as club soda.

Fortified Wines

Wines with alcohol added like port, Madeira and sherry.


Drink served over snow or crushed ice.

Frozen Cocktails

A cocktail prepared with ice in a blender. Popular frozen cocktails include the Daiquiri and the Piña Colada.

Fruit Purée

Fruit broken down to liquid by a food processor. Restaurants often use flash-frozen fruit purees as the base for sorbet.



A decoration, usually a sliced piece of fruit, served with a drink.


A popular cocktail made from gin and lime juice.


Grain spirit flavoured with botanicals, specifically genièvre or juniper, and other flavours, including coriander, lemon peel, fennel, cassia, anise, almond, ginger root, orange peel, angelica and others. Created in the 1600s when Dutch chemist Dr. Franciscus Sylvius was experimenting with the therapeutic properties of juniper in a medicinal alcoholic beverage.

Ginger Beer

A spicy soft drink, usually carbonated, made from ginger root. Originated in Jamaica.


Made from the leftover skins, seeds and stems after grapes are pressed for wine, grappa is usually not aged.


Sweet, red syrup used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The original flavour base was pomegranate, but many brands use artificial flavour.


Hawthorne Strainer

Typically used with a Boston shaker, a Hawthorne strainer keeps ice in the shaker while allowing fruit pulp to pass through.

Highball Glass

A tall glass (similar to a rocks glass) used for serving cocktails.

Hot Drinks

A cocktail served warm. Hot drinks are typically sweeter tasting than chilled cocktails.



Bartenders consider ice the most important ingredient in cocktails. Ice chills spirits and mixers, which are typically stored at room temperature. The slight melting of ice in a shaker helps create a balanced tasting drink.


A process similar to making tea, but on a bigger scale. In beer and whisky making, the grains and malted grains are soaked in hot water several times, often with increasingly high temperatures, resulting in a sweet liquid called wort. Infusion is also used in the production of fruit liqueurs, where fruit and other flavours are steeped in brandy for any extended time. After infusion, the mixture is strained and sweetened with sugar syrup. The proof is lowered with water and the mixture is bottled.

Irish Whiskey

A triple-distilled whiskey from Ireland, thought to be the first whiskey, brought to Ireland by knowledgeable monks in the twelfth century. Irish whiskey is a blend of pot-stilled unmalted barley whiskey and column-stilled grain whiskey. Irish whiskey has a completely different character from scotch whisky, mostly because the malt is not kilned or toasted with peat, so there is no smoky quality in the flavour.



A small, two-sided measuring cup. Most jiggers have a half-ounce measure on one side and a two-ounce measure on the other.


A julep is a popular American drink that originated in the late eighteenth century and is still popular today. It was originally made with Cognac and peach brandies, but evolved into a bourbon drink mixed with fresh mint and sugar, served in a frosted silver cup over shaved ice.

Julep Strainer

A smaller strainer that's handy if you're straining into narrower glasses.





Lagers are one of the two beer categories (ales are the other). Lagers are generally lighter in colour than ales, and are brewed for longer periods at colder temperatures.


Maintaining separate visible layers in a drink by slowly pouring over the back of a spoon held inside the glass. Baileys Spiced Coffee and the Cherry Kiss are examples of layered drinks.



Maceration in the preparation of alcoholic beverages is the steeping of herbs, botanicals or fruits in spirits of some kind for a period of time, after which the whole mixture may be distilled again. This process is used to flavour different types of spirits such as liqueurs.


A popular cocktail made with whiskey and sweet vermouth.


A popular cocktail made with tequila, orange flavoured liquor, lime juice and margarita mix.


The traditional Martini is made from gin and vermouth, although many Martinis are prepared with vodka instead of gin.


Tequila is a subcategory of mescal. All tequila is mescal, but mescal is not tequila. Mescal is made primarily in Oaxaca, Mexico, from the espadin species of agave, and bottled with the infamous worm or gusano in the bottle. Mescal has a smoky quality from the slow baking of the agave piña in clay ovens over hot rocks.


Any spirit served over crushed ice.


A non-alcoholic drink (typically soda or fruit juice) that is mixed with a spirit.


A tequila that is at least 51% derived from the blue agave and also contains sugars from cane or other sources.


Originally from Cuba, the Mojito is made from rum, mint, sugar, lime juice and soda water.


A wooden tool shaped like the grinding tool of a mortar and pestle (between six and nine inches long) used to mash fruit and herbs with sugar or liqueur in the bottom of a bar mixing glass. Muddling is essential for making Mojitos.


The technique of mashing ingredients with a muddler in a glass.



When an unmixed spirit is served in a glass without ice, it is served "neat" or "straight."


Old Fashioned

A classic cocktail made from whisky, bitters, sugar and water.

Old Fashioned Glass

Holds eight to ten ounces in a short, stout shape. Also known as a "rocks glass."

On the Rocks

When a spirit is served "on the rocks" it is served over ice without a mixer.

Orange Bitters

Alcohol-based bitters flavoured with orange peel and other botanicals.


A milky, sweet, almond syrup used extensively in baking. Orgeat is the oft-forgotten ingredient in Victor Bergeron's classic Mai Tai cocktail.



Matching a cocktail or wine with food.


Cider made from pears, or a combination of pears and apple.


Fortified wine that comes in several styles, including vintage, vintage character, ruby, tawny and white.


Traditionally a five-ingredient drink made with sweet, sour, strong, spicy and weak ingredients.




Red Wine

Wine produced from red grapes. Red wines (or "reds") have a fuller flavour than white wines.


A cocktail prepared with gin, lime juice and soda water.


A technique for flavouring the edge of a glass.

Rose Water

A food and beverage-flavouring agent made by steeping rose petals in alcohol. Used extensively in the Middle East. Good in lemonade drinks.


Made from molasses, sugar can juice or syrup, it is considered the first spirit of the new world. First produced in Barbados and Jamaica, traditionally double distilled.


Whiskey aged two years, with 51-100% rye in the mash.



Japanese wine made from fermented rice.


Anise-based Italian after-dinner liqueur often taken with coffee.


A beverage originating in Spain made with red or white wine, sugar and fruits; garnished with fresh fruits and berries. There are lots of recipes for Sangria, but there should always be wine and fruits in them.


A Scandinavian and German term for strong, colourless spirits. Today schnapps is a popular category of fruit and spice spirits.


A malt-barley based spirit made in Scotland that has been aged in oak casks for a minimum of three years.


The most common technique used by bartenders for mixing ingredients to make a cocktail. Shaking involves adding ingredients to a shaker, then vigorously shuddering the shaker before serving.


Sherry is a blended wine that is aged by the solera system, a process of blending young wine with older wine to achieve a vintage character in a shorter period of time. The wine is preserved by the addition of alcohol distilled from local grapes. There are two broad categories of sherry: dry and sweet (which has a fuller body).


A drink served in a small glass known as a shot glass.

Simple Syrup

Syrup made from mixing equal parts sugar and water. Made with a much more concentrated recipe for baking applications.

Single Malt

A Scottish barley-based spirit produced by a single distillery in one season. Bottled straight or used as a blending agent in blended scotch.


A bulbous glass used to serve brandy.

Sour Mix

A tart-tasting mixer made with equal parts simple syrup and lemon or lime juice.


Cocktails made with a strong, sweet and sour ingredient-typically sour mix.


A technique used to chill a drink in its serving glass. Stirred drinks generally don't have fruit juice or milk.

STraight up

When an unmixed spirit is served in a glass without ice, it is served "neat" or "straight."



Produced in Mexico and distilled from the agave plant, which is a member of the lily family. The three types of tequila are determined by age. Silver tequila is bottled without aging in wood after resting in stainless steel tanks for up to 60 days. Reposado is rested in wood for 60 days to a year; añejo is aged a minimum of one year in wood; and extra añejo is aged a minimum of three years in the barrel.


A hot beverage made of spirits, sugar and water.


A carbonated water that contains quinine and sugar.

Triple Sec

An orange flavoured liqueur used mostly as a mixer. Famous cocktail applications are the Cosmopolitan and Long Island Iced Tea.


A garnish prepared from the peel of a lemon, lime or orange.





Fortified and flavoured wines made in sweet or dry styles, used in cocktails and as an aperitif. The word originated from the German word for the wormwood plant, wermuth.


A tasteless, odourless spirit distilled from grain or sometimes potatoes.



Tapered slices of fruit (typically lemons, limes or oranges) used to garnish a drink.


Garnishes (usually lemons, limes or oranges) cut into circular shapes. Wheels typically adorn tropical drinks.

Whipped Cream

Unlike whipped cream used in desserts, whipped cream for cocktails is unsweetened and less dense.


From the Gaelic word "uisgebaugh" meaning "water of life," whiskey is made from grain that is ground into grist and then cooked with water to release starches. Malt is added to convert the starch into sugar, and then yeast begins the fermentation process. The low-proof liquid after fermentation is called beer, which after distillation becomes whiskey.


A whiskey made in Scotland or Canada. Most whisky is blended, but single malt scotch whisky enjoys a loyal following as well.

White Wine

Wine produced from white grapes. White wines (or "whites") have a crisp taste and a lighter body than red wines.