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Various special terms are used in bartending terminology.
This is contrasted with a drink served neat – a single, unmixed liquor served without being chilled and without any water, ice, or other mixer. Neat drinks and rocks drinks are often served in a rocks glass but may be served in a shot glass or a cocktail glass.
The term "up" is less ambiguous than "straight up", because sometimes the term "straight up" is used to mean "neat".
The term "straight" is also sometimes ambiguous, as it can be used to mean either "up" or "neat".
There is substantial confusion in the usage of "neat", "straight up", "straight", and "up". In the context of describing ways of serving a drink, all of these mean "served without ice", but some bar patrons and bartenders use them inconsistently.
"Straight" is often used interchangeably with "neat" (in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States). However, "straight" is also often used to refer to a spirit that is in an unmixed state in general, in addition to being used to describe a way of serving it. For example, many Bourbons are identified as "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey" on their bottling labels, and U.S. Federal law contains a legal definition of the term "straight whiskey". So sometimes "straight" may be used to mean either "straight up" (as defined above) or "neat", and clarification may be needed to determine the exact manner for serving it.
"On the rocks" refers to liquor poured over ice cubes.
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Unmixed liquors may be served either neat, up, or on the rocks, with differing conventions. High quality whisky and other aged liquor is most often served neat, while lower quality whisky is usually served on the rocks. Vodka is sometimes served chilled.