Mixology Terms

Mixology has 3 main components: Recipe Knowledge, Preparation, and Ingredients.

Recipe Knowledge

In order to be a successful bartender, it is important that you have the basic recipes committed to memory. In order to help you with this, we have segmented the Bar Ninja drink recipe database into two categories. It's also a great idea to keep a recipe book behind the bar to use as a reference for the times when guests order a drink you are unfamiliar with.


Preparation of a drink begins with following the recipe instructions. This means that you will make sure you are using the correct glass type, gather the necessary liquors and mixers, as well as follow any special instructions. You should always use the freshest ingredients you have for making cocktails.


Many bartenders explore with mixing liquors using the process of trial and error. We find this to be expensive and a surefire way to get you in trouble with the boss. Consider our secret as a road map to helping you create your very own signature cocktails and specialty drinks. Most great cocktails have a balance of three elements as their common denominator - strong, sweet, and acid. Let’s take a look at the Margarita as an example – its elements are Tequila (strong), Triple Sec (sweet) and Lime (acid). These elements can also be applied to other classic cocktails such as the Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Long Island, etc. Now, we can begin the mixology process. In order to create a tasty cocktail, it is important that the strong, the sweet, and the acid are well balanced. There are many variations, but Bar Ninja suggests using 2 ounces of a strong, ¾ - 1 ounces of a sweet, and ½ - ¾ ounces of an acid.

Now that you’ve got the 3 main components down, it’s important that you become familiar with some common mixology terms in your recipe book.


Mix with blender using liquids first and ice last. For a consistent and smooth texture, always use a high end commercial blender.


Combine the ingredients directly into the glass with or without ice.


Chilling is a procedure. It consists of cooling the glass with ice and water prior to pouring the drink. Note: Carbonated soda speeds up the process due to the sodium content. And never throw ice and water back into the ice bin, throw it away.


The coating technique consists of rinsing a glass with a small amount of liquid using a clockwise movement. Continue this movement until the glass is coated evenly and thoroughly. The excess liquid is removed by holding the glass upside down until the glass is empty. The coating technique is a common practice for drinks such as the Pink Gin and Sazerac. In some circumstances, recipes may even call for a chocolate syrup coating.


In order, pour all of the ingredients directly into glassware. Ice is usually not required.


Garnishing by sprinkling ground nutmeg, grated cinnamon stick, or chocolate powder on top of a drink.


This is also known as flambé and is a method that requires some practice. When using this method, extinguish the flame before the customer drinks the beverage. Note: Do not light the drink and then carry it. And remember an important rule of chemistry – a hot glass looks the same as a cold glass.

Flamed Zest

This very eye catching garnish consists of igniting the flammable, aromatic oils found in the rind of citrus fruit. Hold the cut zest with the peel facing the surface of the drink. Using your thumb and forefinger gently squeeze the zest to release the oils over a match flame. Stay at least 3-4 inches away from the drink; otherwise a smoky film will appear on the glass rim. In order to avoid a “burnt rubber” smell, discard the burnt peel and replace it with a fresh one.


Floating means layering the final ingredient on top of the drink by slowing pouring it over a (bar) spoon or a cherry. You can also pour the liquor against the rim of the glass to achieve the same effect.

Free Pouring

This is pouring without a jigger. Most bartenders develop a “count” to measure for free pours.


Storing your glassware in the freezer will give you this nice icy coating on your glassware.


It sounds similar to the floating technique, but it’s different. Using this technique you will pour each layer over a bar spoon or a cherry. A successful visual effect is based upon the absolute gravity of the liqueur used.


This refers to the crushing of fruits with a muddler.


Pour liquor directly from the bottle into the glass without chilling it over ice.


A rimming of the glass is obtained by moistening the rim, wiping a wedge of lime around the rim, and holding the glass upside down. This detains any liquid from entering the glass and spoiling the cocktail. There is a professional piece of equipment called a rimmer, which is composed of three sections. Since one of the sections has a sponge, it is important to rinse the sponge and allow it to air dry (per health code).


All juice cocktails should be shaken at least ten times for proper infusion of all ingredients. Mixing a drink by shaking it also chills it to its proper temperature and dilutes it. Make sure to fill each cocktail with two-thirds ice because too little ice will melt in the shaker and result in an over-diluted cocktail.


Stir the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a bar spoon; this is for cocktails that have fragile ingredients.

Straight up

Strain a pre-chilled beverage over ice into a glass without ice.

When to Shake

Drinks that contain fruit juices, sugar, eggs, cream, or other ingredients that are difficult to mix should be shaken briskly. Frothiness is desired of most sour, punch, and creamy drinks. For the best presentation, shake the drink and pour it into the drinking glass.

When to Stir

Drinks containing clear liquors and ingredients require stirring with ice for proper mixing. Gently stir drinks containing a carbonated mixer (tonic, ginger, soda, etc.) in order to preserve the sparkle and effervescence. Note: Too little stirring fails to mix or chill ingredients and stirring too much can melt the ice and dilute the drink.


When making the same drink for several people at the same time (especially shooters), make them all in one batch. This not only saves on time, but ensures that all of the drinks are made at the same strength and taste. For a great pour, line the glasses in a row and pour, filling each glass halfway. Then, go back to the first glass and top them off.

How to Float Cordials

In order to make cordials float on top of the others in the same glass, you must slowly pour each ingredient over a bottom side up teaspoon while over the glass. The rounded surface of the teaspoon will spread each cordial slowly and evenly over the one below.


Always use plenty of ice! Whether cubed or shaved, all ice should be fresh, crystal clear, and free of any taste. Next, always put the ice in the mixing glass, shaker, or drinking glass before pouring any ingredients. The liquids are chilled as they are poured over the ice and there is no splashing. More ice means less mixer, therefore, if you pack a glass full of ice, the drink will taste stronger.