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Bar Vocabulary

This page from our English for F&B Staff covers language needed when serving at a bar in an English-speaking context.

martini glassTending bar requires special skills, such as learning special recipes, measuring, mixing and serving drinks, and chatting with guests. No matter which country you are working in, you are sure to come across English patrons who want a cold drink. Study the lists and expressions bartenders use. Then read the dialogue and check your understanding.


brandy snifter brandy snifter
half litre, litre a glass container for serving house wine
highball glass a tall straight glass
martini glass martini glass
mug a cup or glass with a handle used for hot beverages
pint glass 20 oz glass for draft
pitcher, jug approximately 60 oz container for draft or water
rock glass, tumbler short glass for mixed drinks
shot glass 1 oz glass for shots and shooters
sleeve 12 oz glass for draft
wine glass wine glass

Classic Cocktails

There are many different ways to prepare classic cocktails. Every bar or restaurant has rules about how much alcohol to put in a cocktail and how to build it. The following recipes do not contain specific amounts. Use them to learn the names of the cocktails, liquors, and mixes.

Black Russian vodka, coffee liqueur, on ice (for a white russian-add milk)
Bloody Mary vodka, tomato juice, tobasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, celery salt, slice celery, on ice
Cosmopolitan vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, lime, on ice
Daquiri light rum, lime juice, sugar, blended with ice (for a strawberry daquiri use strawberry mix or syrup)
Long Island Iced Tea vodka, gin, rum, orange liqueur, lemon juice, cola, on ice
Margarita tequila, lime, salt, blended with ice
Martini gin, dry vermouth, (garnish with olive)
Pina Colada rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice, blended with ice
Screwdriver vodka and orange juice, on ice
Tom Collins gin, lemon juice, sugar, soda water, on ice

Common Liquor

Gin clear alcohol flavoured with juniper berries
Liqueur various sweet alcohols
Rum clear alcohol made from sugar cane, origin Caribbean
Vodka clear alcohol made from grain or potato, origin Russia
Whisky (Rye in Canada) light brown alcohol made from grain, origin Scotland
Tequila golden or clear alcohol, origin Mexico

Beer and Coolers

Domestic beer from country that bar is located in
Local beer brewed nearby
Cans beer served in a tin
Bottles beer served in glass bottle
Draft beer on tap
Keg beer in a large barrel
Ciders alcoholic drink from apples or other fruit
Coolers premixed and bottled alcoholic drinks

Sample Conversation

Bartender: Hi there. What can I get for you?

Guest: I need something cold.

Bartender: You've come to the right place.

Guest: Do you have any specials on?

Bartender: We have highballs on for half price.

Guest: Sorry, I meant for beer.

Bartender: Our beer special tonight is a pitcher of local draft with a half dozen wings for $12.99.

Guest: I guess I should have brought a friend. I think I'll just have a Heineken for now.

Bartender: Sure, would you like that on tap or in a can?

Guest: Do you have it in a bottle?

Bartender: No, I'm afraid we don't.

Guest: That's okay. I'll take a pint.

Bartender: A pint of Heineken coming up.

Guest: Actually, you better just make it a sleeve.

Bartender: Sure. And should I start you a tab?

Guest: No, I'm driving. How much do I owe you?

Bartender: $5.25.

Guest: Here's 6. Keep the change.

Bartender: Thank you.

Check your understanding

1. Which of the following is NOT on special tonight?

2. What does the bartender give the guest to drink?

3. How much money did the bartender make as a tip?