Bartender Slang 101

Flickr / Kamal Hamid
Flickr / Kamal Hamid


The bartender’s assistant.


Whenever someone is walking behind an individual behind the physical bar and they are carrying glassware, boxes, liquor, etc., in order to avoid the possibility of running into that person, they will yell “behind” loud enough so that the person in front will hear to avoid them running into each other.

Behind the Stick

Basically working behind the bar.

Buy Back

Shut up and be a good sport, and hopefully your bartender will get you a buy back, which is a complimentary drink on the house.


Any liquor that you can ‘call’ by name. Simply put, this is a call brand name. So Bacardi, Absolut, Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniels, and Jameson are all call brands.

Eighty-Six (or 86’d)

Terminology used to state that you are out of something. So when the kitchen has run out of Buffalo wings, they are said to be 86’d.

Gun (or Soda Gun)

A device used by bars to serve various types of carbonated and non-carbonated drinks. Different buttons on the gun are used to pour out different drinks. Q (Tonic water), L (7-Up, Sprite, Sierra Mist or Mountain Dew), G (Ginger ale), C (Cola), D (Diet Cola), S (Club soda), W (Water), O (Orange soda), P (Pineapple juice), C (Cranberry juice), SS (Sour mix).

In the Weeds

The moment the bar gets busy and the bartenders fall behind in cocktail orders is known in the industry as “being in the weeds.”

House Pour

The mandatory minimum amount of ounces that the house (i.e. bar) has decided will be in a one liquor drink. The agreed upon industry standard is 1½ ounces in a one liquor drink. So Rum & Coke would receive 1½ ounces of rum, and then topped off with Coke. The same goes for a Vodka Soda, Vodka Red Bull, and Gin & Tonic.

Last Call

You don’t have to go home, but you do have to get your ass the hell up out of here.

Speed Rack

See ‘Well.’


Usually about 1½ ounces of alcohol served in a small glass without ice. Normally, you drink a shot by picking up the glass, putting it to your lips, and tossing it all back at once.

Neat (or Straight)

Two ounces of liquor served in an old-fashioned glass without ice. Meant to be sipped.

On the Rocks

Two ounces of spirit (or liquor) served over ice.

The BCS (Bartender Counting System)

Bartenders usually count how many ounces of liquor go within each one drink. Every ounce is considered a “four count.” So two ounces would be an “eight count.” And three ounces would be a “twelve count.”

Up (or Straight Up)

Two ounces of liquor stirred with ice, strained into a chilled glass.


A location where a bartender places all of there most frequently used liquors. Most bar wells are set up in the following (from left to right): vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, whiskey, and then cordials (liqueurs). Well can also refer to the generic brand name of liquors that bartenders use frequently. So Crystal Palace (vodka), Crystal Palace (gin), Appleton (rum), Sauza (tequila), Mr. Boston (triple sec), and Wild Turkey (whiskey). Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Keep up with Fair-Rose on Twitter and Website

More From Thought Catalog