How To: Order Whiskey

“Yeah, give me a Bulleit on the rocks.”

“Whistle Pig neat please.”

“I’ll take a Woodford Reserve up.”


There are numerous ways to order your whiskey.  From brand, to how to ask for your spirit to be served; the customization is up to you…only if you knew the choices though…


No worries, let’s dive in to find out a bit of whiskey bar lingo as well as some options you have so that you can be on your way to knowing how to order whiskey and enjoying that sipper just the way you like.


Step 1: Type of Whiskey


Most bars will keep a number of different whiskeys on hand, from Canadian to Irish, Bourbons and Ryes. Brands may vary from bar to bar, so to have a couple staples or “go-to’s that you know you like are critical. Heck, if you don’t know what you like, don’t worry, that’s where the bartender comes into play (see step 2).

Types of whiskey, Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels, Tennessee Whiskey

Take a look at what’s available. Most times the options are displayed behind the bar or on a cocktail list.


Step 2: Don’t be Intimidated, Ask Questions


Bartenders are not working just simply to serve drinks, but rather, they are full of a hub-bub of knowledge regarding spirits, beer, wine and specialty cocktails.


Ask your barkeep a question or two regarding a whiskey you are curious about. Chat him/her up about what you look for in a whiskey. They should be quick to direct you to a winner that correlates to your pallet.


Step 3: How to Take Your Whiskey & The Official Bar Order


Alright, here is where the creation ensues (with the help of the bartender if needed).


There is a difference in taste if whiskey is served on ice or diluted with mixers or water. The flavors change, but the choice is completely up to you, the drinker (there is no wrong way).


Here is some bar lingo on how to order a whiskey:


  • “Neat” – Ordering your whiskey of choice “neat” means that there is nothing in the glass besides the spirit, served at and room temperature.
    • Ordering Example: “I’ll take a Green Spot neat, please.”
Whiskey Neat
Whiskey Served “Neat”
  • “Rocks” – Rocks is bar lingo for ice. This is whiskey served over ice.
    • Ordering Example: “Makers Mark on the rocks, would be great, thanks!”
    • Ordering Example: “Makers Mark with two rocks, please.” This literally means TWO cubes of ice.


  • “______Back” – Feel free to order your whiskey of choice with a “back” of some sort. This is simply whiskey poured in a glass with another glass served on the side that is filled with a “chaser” such as coke, pickle juice, a beer, or whatever you like.
    • Ordering Example: “May I have Jameson with a coke back.”


  • “Up” – “Up” refers to your whiskey chilled. The bartender will pour the whiskey ordered into a shaker tin, shake until icy cold and serve with NO ice into a glass, but rather just the cold spirit.
    • Ordering Example: “I’ll take a Knob Creek up.”


  • “________ (cocktail name)” – Just like many other drinks, you can customize your cocktail with a whiskey of choice. A Manhattan and Old Fashioned are two whiskey cocktails that can be specified as to which whiskey you desire.
    • Ordering Example: “I’d like a Woodford Rye Manhattan, please.”


Just know that there is no wrong way to enjoy whiskey. It’s a spirit that’s great on its own, fantastic when enhanced by other flavors and even delectable over ice. If you aren’t sure how you like your whiskey, ask the bartender for suggestions or simply order it neat and adjust as you desire. Now you know how to order your whiskey.






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