When you’re a first-timer to alcoholic beverages in general and to TGI Fridays in particular, you may be confused about the terms used by bartenders. But don’t be! You will find that it’s quite easy to know the difference between alcoholic beverages, although we have to admit that it will take a few visits to TGI Fridays.
Let’s start with the difference between ordering a neat drink and a shot drink as well as cocktails and mocktails. Knowing the differences between these drinks can make your TGI Fridays experience better and better with each visit.
Neat and Shot
Both a shot of whiskey and a neat pour of whiskey are poured straight from the bottle and served at room temperature. The terms used also apply to all types of liquor.
So, what’s the difference between a shot and neat pour? It’s in the size!
The standard shot measures 1.5 ounces, the same size as any standard alcoholic drink according to the guidelines issued by the National Institute of Health. This is usually served as a shot glass whether the drink is a pure liquor or a mixed drink; kamikaze is a good example of the latter.
The standard neat drink measures 2 ounces, a 0.5-ounce difference that can make a difference in taste, amount of alcohol consumed, and possibility of becoming stone-cold drunk. This term is typically used to refer to a straight pour of tequila or whiskey, among other liquors, which is then served in lowball glass, tumbler, or on-the-rocks glass.
Why the 0.5-ounce difference? It’s isn’t just the size because the quality of the liquor poured is typically different between a neat pour and a shot.
Generally speaking, more affordable alcoholic beverage is used in shots, especially as these can be downed in one shot, as the name implies, and downed quickly. On the other hand, neat pours are meant to be enjoyed so more expensive alcoholic beverages are used.
There are other reasons why neat pours should be savored. First, these are poured into glasses with wider mouths that allows breathing room, so to speak, for the spirits so you can enjoy its aroma. Second, the wider mouths allow for slowly sipping the liquor, something that will look silly when doing so from a small shot glass.
Furthermore, shot glasses are designed to hold almost exactly 1.5 ounces so these are generally similar in size and shape. On the contrary, glasses used for neat pours come in a wide range of shapes and sizes with rocks glass are the most commonly used. Cognac or brandy neat pours are poured into a snifter glass with a wide bowl and short stem, while there are upscale glasses specifically designed for neat pours (e.g., Riedel and Viski manufactures these glasses).
When it comes to the alcoholic beverages that should be ordered as neat pours and shots, there are really no hard and fast rules. But that doesn’t mean that you can do it haphazardly because there’s a reason some alcoholic beverages are poured in shots and some as neat pours.
We suggest enjoying whiskey, tequila, Amari, rum, and brandy neat. You can drink the alcoholic beverages that you really don’t want to savor because of their strong flavors in shots.
Cocktails and Mocktails
Strictly speaking, a cocktail is three-ounce or a five-ounce drink in a long-stemmed glass that should have a six-ounce capacity, at most. Every cocktail, so goes the definition, should be served in a small portion as well as contain these four basic ingredients: a base spirit, a modifier, and an accent as well as water, usually from melted ice.
In a way, there’s no significant difference between cocktails and mixed drinks since both contain several ingredients, not a single alcoholic beverage poured directly from the bottle, as is the case with neat pours and shots.
Cocktails can be poured into two types of glasses, namely, tall and short glasses depending on the drinks’ classification. Tall glasses are obviously the match for tall drinks, such as Collins, cobblers, fizzes, coolers, highballs, juleps, swizzles, rickeys, sours, tropicanas, sangarees, and bucks. Depending on the drink, too, a tall glass may be designed to hold ice cubes or not.
Short glasses have a capacity of 6 to 7 ounces. The short drinks include smashes and lowballs.
Mocktails are drinks that mimic cocktails but actually don’t have alcohol including spirits in them. These may be preferred by people who want to appear like they can hold their liquor in but don’t actually want to get drunk, not even become tipsy. Examples include pina colada and virgin pina colada.
When in doubt, there’s no shame or harm in asking the bartender for recommendations. By doing so, you’re not only leaving yourself in good hands but you may also be endearing yourself to the bartender. Just be sure to ask nicely and politely, perhaps even tell him or her about your inexperience with alcoholic beverages.