November 6, 2022

How to Order Whiskey Like a Boss: Neat, Double or On the Rocks

Up, on the rocks, neat... What does it all mean? Here are the essentials to ordering whiskey with conffidence.

sipping a scotch neat

The world of whiskey can be confusing.

There are so many different types of whiskey and unique styles within those types, but you don't need to be some whiskey master to order yourself a drink and start to learn what you enjoy.

So here are the essentials you should know the next time you order yourself a whiskey.

How to order whiskey

AWhen ordering whiskey at a bar the most common way is to tell the bartender the type you'd like, followed by the size, and then how you'd like it served.

For example you could say "I'd like a Michter's rye double on the rocks".

If you're new to drinking whiskey don't be shy, a good bartender will help you get what you'd like! After you try several whiskeys a few different ways you'll get a feel for how you prefer it.

a bottle of scotch whisky

Is there a difference between ordering Bourbon or Scotch?

There is no difference in the ways you order difference types of whiskey. They can all be enjoyed however you prefer no matter if you're drinking bourbon, scotch, or any other type of whiskey like Irish, Japanese, or Rye.

It might be more culturally accepted to drink certain whiskey varieties in a particular way (like a Japanese Whiskey Highball) but they can all be sipped neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails.

a whiskey on the rocks

Ways to order your whiskey:

whiskey neat

Whiskey neat means there is nothing in the glass except for the whiskey. Higher end whiskey is often served neat since it is a great way to pick up on all the subtle flavor notes.

Neat whiskey is often served in a small nosing style glass which helps you pick up even more flavor just like a wine glass.

on the rocks

"On the rocks" is a term that means served poured over ice. This chills and dilutes the whiskey making it more mellow and approachable.

Some purists will say that serving whiskey on the rocks takes away some of its flavor, but you be the judge. If that's how you enjoy it that's great! Don't let somebody tell you how you should drink your whiskey.

making a whiskey cocktail

in a cocktail

Whiskey mixes well with all sorts of different ingredients, and cocktails can be a great gateway if you want to get into drinking whiskey.

You will most likely only ever order a specific whiskey in your drink if it were something like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned with very few ingredients where the flavor of the booze will really come through.

There's not much sense in getting Buffalo Trace in your shaken Lion's Tail since it will be hard to tell the difference from using any other bourbon.

If you do order a whiskey cocktail there's no need to tell the bartender single or double since they will already know the right amount to make you a balanced drink.

a shot of whiskey

as a shot

A shot of whiskey is a single whiskey (1.5 oz) served in a small shot glass that is meant to be drank in one sip.

Shots are most popular with college kids or people looking to forget the long work week and are typically not the highest quality whiskey since you won't be savoring the flavors. A efficient way to get your drinks down quickly.

a dram of whiskey

Single vs. Double whiskey

After deciding how you will order your whiskey, you need to decide how much you'd like. At a bar the size drink is often referred to as a single or a double.

How much is a serving of whiskey?

A single whiskey is 1.5 ounces or 45 milliliters and a double just means twice that amount. "Single" or "double" whiskey is usually used when ordering either neat, on the rocks, or with water since ordering a double in a cocktail can throw the drink out of whack. 

And what is a dram?

A dram is the traditional Scottish term for a small single serving of whisky. The term was originally used in apothecaries to measure one eighth of an ounce but a dram of whisky is quite often more than that.

Think of a small single serving of whisky.

a whiskey with water

Less common whiskey orders

whiskey with water

Adding a few small splashes of water can be a a great way to appreciate all of whiskeys subtle notes (especially high alcohol ones).

Just like when people swirl wine around the glass to "open it up", adding some water can help mellow out the strong alcohol notes and bring forward new hints of flavor you couldn't pick up before.

If you want to try drinking your whiskey with water order a glass of water on the side and use a spoon to add as much or little as you'd like. Add a half teaspoon, taste it, then add more if needed.

lemon twist on a whiskey

whiskey with a twist

A twist means a piece of citrus peel that gets dropped into the glass to give some bright fruity flavor to your whiskey. This is commonly done with cocktails to add layers of flavor, but you can also order a twist in your whiskey.

A citrus twist can be any variety but lemon and orange are the most common pairings with whiskey.

with a back or chaser

A back or chaser is another drink that is served with the whiskey you order most commonly served with shots.

"Chaser" means another small serving meant to be drank right after a shot to chase the whiskey down and get rid of the taste in your mouth.

A "back" is another (usually full sized) drink you will have after the shot such as a beer or soda.

And now you know how to order whiskey so the next time you want to try something at a bar you can do it with confidence!

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