Drinking Words And Bar Slang To Sound Native When Hang Out

Tori Tornreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process12 min
Created: Mar 30, 2023Last updated: Jan 23, 2024
Drinking Words

In how many movies have you seen people hanging out in bars? We bet that at least one scene is scripted in almost every film - if it's not about some ancient times, of course. Bar culture is one of the popular things in movies and series, so you could've heard characters ordering drinks pretty often. For instance, half of the tv show How I Met Your Father takes place in a bar. But do you know enough of the alcohol slang and drinking words in English to make an order in a bar yourself? If you feel stuck answering this question, it means we should really give you a hand here. 

Bar slang is not the first topic you must learn in English. However, you might benefit from knowing such stuff as an adult English learner. That is why today we reveal bar vocabulary and slang for drunk to keep in mind before you hit the bar next. Bottoms up!

Must-Knows For Ordering Drinks: Bar Slang

To be fair, the average drinker doesn't need to know a lot of bar terminology – they are not bartenders. Nonetheless, if you want to be a native-like customer in an English-speaking place where they serve drinks, you need to memorize and use basic bar slang. Alcohol and drinking words will help you to order exactly what you want. So, the first round of bar terms is on us. But if you are still thirsty for bar slang and vocabulary after our list, check out this article about English for bartenders


Meaning: a small shot that quickly. 

Example: We are in the mood for baby shots today. 


Meaning: to make or mix a drink that requires adding several ingredients

Example: Do they even know how to build a Manhattan in this bar?


Meaning: when the bartender gives you a drink for free

Example: We've drunk so much today that the bartender even gave us a buyback. 

Call Drink

Meaning: giving both the specific name of the liquor and the name of the mixer when ordering a drink

Example: Negroni Sbagliato with prosecco in it, please. 


Meaning: adding olive juice to a martini

Example: Dirty Martini is one of the most popular drinks among our friends. 


Meaning: something added to a drink as decoration

Example: The traditional garnish for Aperol Spritz is an orange slice. 

Last call

Meaning: a chance to order the last drink before the bar closes

Example: I should've called it a night before they announced the last call. 


Meaning: served in an old-fashioned glass without ice

Example: Jenny always orders neat drinks since she doesn't like to pay for the ice.

On the rocks

Meaning: a drink served with ice

Example: Scotch on the rocks for my friend, please. 

On the fly

Meaning: when a drink is needed immediately

Example: Can I request a drink on the fly before my guest shows up? 


Meaning: a tangly or sharp flavor, like a lemon or lime

Example: Can I order a Whiskey Sour, please?

Straight up / up: 

Meaning: a drink shaken in a shaker and strained into a glass without ice



Meaning: a cocktail recipe

Example: I didn't know all the specs when I first started bartending, so I just googled them behind the stick. 


Meaning: non-alcoholic                                                                                                                                                

Example: I'm not much of a drinker, so I'll take a virgin Mojito. 

Well Drink

Meaning: a drink with a "house" liquor without specifying a brand

Example: We always order the same classic drink every time - Gin & Tonic. 

Different Names for Alcohol: Spirits And Cocktails Edition

Now that you know how to make an order in the bar or restaurant, you need to learn what drinks to order and what to ask a bartender. To teach you an alcohol abcd, we've created two lists – 6 main spirits and eight most requested cocktails at bars. 

Spirits: Words to Describe Alcohol

It only seems like there are a wide variety of cocktails out there. But the truth is they all are made from one of the seven core spirits. Bartenders can create new cocktails by mixing ingredients, but each drink will have a base spirit – a fermented liquid. In addition, most of them are distilled from fruit, grains, or sugar, which makes them taste differently. So let's move on to the six types of distilled spirit without further delay. 


This spirit is not very flavorful because it is distilled from high-starch plants such as potatoes, corn, or beets. People describe vodka as one of the closest to ethanol drinks by taste. 


Tequila is one of the most robust spirits. That is why in pure, it is served in shots and drunk fast all at once. Tequila is made from fermented agave and tastes piquant and sweet. 


Usually, gin doesn't have much taste, just some hints of juniper, citrus, or even malt wine. The reason is that it is distilled from grain.  


Rum has a much sweeter taste because it is distilled from some type of sugar - either molasses or sugar cane. There are several types of rum that can vary by taste as well. For instance, some have earthier/oakier, and others are sweeter than regular. 


It varies by taste depending on the grains (rye, corn, wheat, or barley) from which whiskey is distilled. Scotch is a rich, smoky flavor, often with hints of peat. Rye is spicy and dry and sometimes contains notes of citrus. Bourbon is sweeter, often with vanilla, caramel, or fruit notes. 


Brandy is the result of distilled fermented fruit juice. So, no wonder it has a fruity taste. However, with age, smokiness and hints of oak add to the taste palette. 

Drinking Lingo: Classic Cocktails to Order

While the choice of cocktails and other alcoholic beverages is a matter of personal preferences, there are some classic cocktails that have passed the test of time and remain amongst the most popular cocktails ordered in bars around the world today. Here is a list of cocktails that you can always call in any bar in the world. 

1. Margarita

Margarita has been one of the top cocktails in the USA for the past few years. People even throw Margarita nights to celebrate something or simply relax with the company of close friends. The thing is that this cocktail is pretty easy to prepare, even for a person with zero experience in bartending. The traditional recipe consists of tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice with a salt rim and a piece of lemon. However, it can be served in several variations – shaken with ice (on the rocks), without ice (straight up), or blended with ice (frozen margarita). To get precisely what you want at a bar, specify what margarita you order. 

2. Cosmopolitan

There is no way you haven't heard about the Cosmopolitan cocktail. It became trendy in the late 90s thanks to the iconic tv series Sex and the City. The group of fabulous friends ordered the cocktail almost every time they went out to hang out together. It got associated with the series so strongly that Carrie and her girlfriend squad even made a joke at the end of the series' first movie.

Cosmopolitan is made of vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime, and cranberry juice. It is served in a chilled martini glass and without ice. Quoting an iconic Carrie Bradshaw: "I'd like a cheeseburger, please, a large fries and a cosmopolitan." 

3. Negroni Sbagliato

We know that once we say Negroni, you hear "Sbagliato with prosecco in it." But do you realize this trend made the cocktail one of the most popular and requested in American bars? If you order it, the bartender will probably be highly grateful for not mentioning the ingredients of the cocktails as in the famous TikTok sound. They know how to prepare a negroni - equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari with prosecco on top. 

Negroni Sbagliato was invented in Milan in 1972 at Bar Basso. A bartender, Mirko Stocchetto made it by accident, but people who prefer lighter drinks found that mistake pretty tasty. Its equally bitter and sweet taste turned it into a perfect dinnertime aperitivo.

4. Manhattan

Manhattan has a fascinating history of how it was invented. It was first mixed by Jennie Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill, in 1870. It happened in the Manhattan Club, so the cocktail was named after the place. Manhattan became a pretty requested cocktail instantly after the night it was first made. 

The classic Manhattan cocktail is a mixture of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters with garnish. Strong, slightly bitter, and some herbal - the perfect words to describe this alcoholic drink. 

5. Long Island Iced Tea

Since we've mentioned Manhattan, we can't leave Long Island Iced Tea off this list. Actually, two places claim to be this cocktail's birthplace – Long Island, Kingsport, and Long Island down in Manhattan. However, the credit for inventing Long Island Iced Tea goes to Bob Butt. In 1972, he challenged 20 bartenders to make a cocktail with Triple Sec during a friendly competition in the Hamptons. 

The classic Long Island Iced Tea ingredients include gin, tequila, vodka, white rum, triple Sec, Gomme sugar syrup, lemon juice, and a splash of cola. As Miranda from Sex and the City series said after the first sip of the cocktail, "Hello, I'm drunk." Long Island Iced Tea is a very strong drink. People say it tastes like cola with lemon and a powerful wallop of alcohol. 

6. Bloody Mary

The cocktail Bloody Mary also has a connection with New York. According to AP, it was invented at Harry's New York Bar in France. In 1921, it was a famous and beloved place for American migrants, including Ernest Hemingway. The French bartender Fernand Petiot claimed to be the inventor of Bloody Mary, which was named Bucket of Blood at first. 

Bloody Mary includes vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, pickled vegetables, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice, and celery salt. A spicy and flavory tomato juice with a shot of vodka – perfect words to describe this alcoholic drink. 

7. Mojito

Another trendy cocktail is Mojito. It has several variations and swaps out flavors depending on the fruit added instead of lime. It was invented in the 1500s in Cuba but got a name with roots in the African language. "Mojo" means talisman or magic charm. Its latest wave of popularity, Mojito owes James Bond, who drank the cocktail in the 2002 movie Die Another Day. 

The classical Mojito is made of white rum, lime juice, cane sugar, soda, and muddled mint. This alcoholic drink has a fresh and tropical taste.

8. Aperol Spritz

And the last but not least cocktail on the list is Aperol Spritz. It's a classic cocktail that everyone drinks (at least, it's what we see on Instagram). The drink was invented by two Italian Barbieri brothers in Padova. In 1919, they created a true symbol of "aperitivo time," when you can relax and do nothing – very Italian style. However, the cocktail name comes from a French slang word for an aperitif - apero. So Aperol Spritz is made of Aperol, prosecco wine, soda water, a slice of orange, and ice. It's a simple but very instagrammable cocktail with an aromatic, citrusy taste. 


How to Say You Are Wasted: Slang for Drunk

Now that you know how to order a drink and what to ask for specifically, it's time to learn other words for "drunk." From the linguistic point of view, there is nothing wrong with the adjective "drunk." Nonetheless, it seems to be a too simple word to use for more advanced English learners. Plus, it doesn't reflect the level of drunkness. Because can you really be considered drunk if you have just one glass of wine? This question made us divide drunk synonyms slang into three parties – slightly drunk and very drunk. 

Slang for Slightly Drunk

  • Tipsy
  • Lit
  • Boozy
  • Tiddly

Example: Honey, I had just one beer with Tommy. We are not even tipsy. 

Slang for Very Drunk

  • Blotto
  • Wasted
  • Loaded
  • Sloshed
  • Smashed
  • Juiced
  • Blitzed
  • Stinking
  • Plastered
  • Skunked
  • Zonked
  • Well-oiled
  • Pickled
  • Hammered
  • Bombed
  • Canned
  • Jarred
  • Wrecked

Example: Last night, we got [any word for drunk from the list] because of that 10 tequila shots, two Long Island Iced Tea, and several Cosmopolitans we had. 

If you are a fan of British English, those funny words for drunk might not fit your speech. That is why we've gathered some British slang for drunk so you could fit in just right. 

British Slang for Drunk

  • Absolutely Badgered
  • Banjaxed
  • Battered
  • Buggered
  • Fannied
  • Fecked
  • Fooked
  • Greased
  • Guttered
  • Half-Cut
  • Kalied
  • Langered
  • Leathered
  • Mashed
  • Merry
  • Mortal
  • Rendered
  • Scuttered
  • Trolleyed
  • Trousered
  • Wazzocked

Example: I remember that night in one of the London pubs very foggy – I was leathered. 

Brits are also known for funny ways of saying drunk. Our personal favorites are "a wee bit jolly" and "away with fairies," which both mean a little bit tipsy. How adorable is that!

How to Learn Bar Slang and Vocabulary for Drinking with Promova

When you go to a bar, you must have a drinking buddy or a whole friend group to make the most out of the night. However, if you are a foreigner in an English-speaking country and go to the bar, you first need to prepare yourself in terms of English. Of course, you might know kitchen vocabulary since it's a very innocent topic to discuss in any English course, but who will enlighten you in bar slang? In this case, Promova is your best buddy!

Promova is a language learning multitool that combines everything you need to become a real pro in English! Learn English grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation with a personalized plan and certified teachers, or receive a guided experience with bite-sized lessons in the Promova app. For better results, you can combine both tools and add meetings at the free Conversation Club, blog articles, and social media posts. We always adapt to students' goals and needs. So, if you decide to learn more drinking words or slang for drunk - our teachers will tailor the lesson for you. Promova is a safe and fun platform to master your language skills!


Speaking English alone might feel challenging for learners who are not confident in their skills. So, when those learners are in bars and need to order drinks, anxiety can appear very unexpectedly. Good thing that after reading this article, you have fewer chances to mumble some random alcohol slang or drinking words when making an order. Now you know all the necessary bar slang to explain to the bartender what you want to drink and receive the exact drink or cocktail you had in mind. Common bar terms are not a problem for you anymore! You've just nailed your English vocabulary once again. Keep going!


What is another word for alcohol?

Alcohol is one of those substances that has been around for centuries. People have been using alcohol as a drink long before any worldwide known company put their label on wine, beer, or vodka. That is why it shouldn't be shocking for anyone that there are other words for alcohol. Among the terms used to reference alcohol are: booze, firewater, hooch, sauce, spirit, juice, poison, liquid courage, giggle juice, giggle water, moonshine, tipple, nightcap (a drink before bed), shooter (a shot), rotgut (poor quality or toxic liquor), brewski (beer), suds (beer), cold one (beer), half-rack (12-pack of beer), sixer (6-pack of beer), bubbly (champagne), champers (champagne).

What is it called after you drink a lot?

Do you know that feeling the morning after a great party or celebration when your head is about to explode, every tiny noise sounds like the jet taking off, your stomach wants to return everything you consumed, and you are so thirsty that every drop of water seems like a God's gift? That is not a disease, just a usual condition for those who like to drink a lot of alcohol. The word that you are looking to describe a set of symptoms and the state of feeling sick in the morning after drunkenness is a hangover. Among significant symptoms are fatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and increased blood pressure. That is why drinking a lot of alcohol is bad for your health! Just remember what happened to guys from the movie Hangover. 

Many people have their own rituals for "curing" hangovers. Some even practice having the hair of the dog that bit them, which means drinking a little alcohol in the morning after a night of drinking. However, it's just a placebo. There is nothing that can cure hangovers besides time. You will be able to feel normal again only when the blood alcohol concentration in the body returns to about zero. It can take up to or sometimes even more than 24 hours.

What is the drinking age in English-speaking countries?

The legal drinking age varies in different countries. The age when a person can buy alcoholic beverages and be served alcoholic drinks at bars and restaurants depends on the law and the government of each country. For instance, the drinking age in the UK and Australia is the same – a person must reach 18 to buy or drink alcohol legally. In Canada, the situation is a bit twisted because everything depends on the provinces. For example, the drinking age is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec and 19 in the rest of the country. The highest drinking age among English-speaking countries is in the USA – 21. So even if you are a citizen of another country where it is legal to drink at 18, you still won't be able to buy alcohol or drink it in bars and restaurants before age 21.

Are there any idioms related to alcohol slang and drinking?

Of course! There are so many idioms in English, so you can always find at least one that will fit your chosen topic. Speaking about drinking words, we would like to emphasize the idiom "drink like a fish." It means drinking a lot of alcohol. Another helpful expression related to bar vocabulary is "champagne taste on a beer budget." This one actually doesn't have a meaning that corresponds with alcohol. This phrase means that people like expensive things but can't really afford them.