It’s no secret that cocktails are a popular drink choice for many people. What may be less known, however, is that not all cocktails are created equally.
In fact, the way you order and drink a cocktail can make all the difference in how good it tastes, including whether you serve the cocktail on the rocks, meaning with ice.
On The Rocks Meaning
The term “on the rocks” can mean different things depending on the context. The most common usage is to order a drink “on the rocks,” meaning that the drink is served over ice.
You can serve a cocktail and straight liquor on the rocks, as it can help cool them down and make them more refreshing.
Another usage of “on the rocks” is to describe a person who is drunk. This usage comes from the phrase “rolling on the rocks,” meaning being so intoxicated that you can’t stand up without assistance.
Best Drinks on the Rocks
So, what are the best drinks on the rocks, and why? We’ll share the best types of liquor for this serving style and why it helps improve the drink for particular tastes.
Bourbon is one of the most popular types of liquor served on the rocks. Bourbon can be a bit harsh or strong tasting when enjoyed straight, but adding ice can help to cool it down and make it more palatable.
Additionally, pouring bourbon or whiskey on the rocks can improve the aroma and taste, especially for sweet and sour whiskey like Jameson Irish Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey, which has a distinct oaky finish.
Scotch is another liquor that benefits from being served on the rocks. The smokey flavor of Scotch can be too intense for some, but adding ice can help to mellow out the flavor and make it more enjoyable.
The ice also helps to release some of the alcohol’s more subtle flavors, making it easier to distinguish and appreciate the different layers of the Scotch.
Gin is less common for drinking straight, but high-quality gin such as Tanqueray London Dry can be delicious straight, especially with one or two big ice cubes. The ice highlights gin’s subtle flavors, especially if you squeeze some lime in the cup before sipping.
Some great tequilas to serve on the rocks include Hornitos Reposado, Don Julio Blanco, and Patron Silver.
On the Rocks vs. Other Styles of Serving
Now that you understand what “on the rocks” means and how it can benefit your favorite liquors, here are some other styles of serving drinks.
Serving liquor neat means drinking it straight, without any ice. Some people prefer this style instead of on the rocks for their whiskey, gin, tequila, and other liquors because they prefer their drink at room temperature.
Otherwise, they might enjoy the zing of the sharp alcohol taste and don’t want to mute it with ice. Finally, drinking liquor or a cocktail neat ensures you can take your time sipping it without it getting watered down.
Serving a drink “straight up” is similar to “neat” in that the result includes no ice. However, the drink has to be previously shaken or stirred with ice, then poured or strained to remove the ice.
A shot is straight liquor served in a small glass, usually between 1.25 and 1.5 fluid ounces.
The idea is to take it in one gulp, and it can be an ideal way of drinking if you aren’t trying to savor the alcohol’s flavors. People take shots of many types of liquor, including tequila, vodka, gin, and whiskey.
Up is the same serving style as “straight up,” mentioned above, but just a shorter way of saying it. Therefore, if you order a drink “up,” the bartender will shake or stir your beverage with ice. They will then pour it and serve it without the ice.
How To Order On the Rocks
When ordering a drink on the rocks, you can use simple terms like “on the rocks” or “with ice.” You can also be more specific and ask for your drink to be poured over ice, on the rocks with lots of ice, only a few pieces of ice, crushed ice cubes, or on one big rock (i.e., one large ice cube).
These more particular descriptions will help ensure that your drink is made exactly the way you want it.
How To Serve On the Rocks
If you’re a bartender in training or simply want a few tips before serving friends and family at an upcoming event, here are some helpful tips for serving on the rocks beverages.
Don’t Let the Liquor Sit Too Long
When someone orders a drink on the rocks, they likely want to drink to be cold and refreshing, which is perfect for enjoying on a hot day. However, if you leave the drink unattended for too long, the ice will melt and water down the beverage.
On the rocks can ruin the liquor flavor and make it less enjoyable to drink. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that you serve the drink right after putting ice in it, or else the person who ordered will miss out on all the benefits that come with it.
Choose the Correct Glassware
Different types of glasses can impact and improve the experience of drinking on the rocks. For example, choosing a glass with a smaller opening is ideal if you want to prevent the ice from melting.
Select the Appropriate Drink
Not all drinks are best served on the rocks. For example, if you’re pouring a high-quality whiskey that someone will like to sip for a long time, neat is usually the best way to enjoy it.
Also, martinis and blended drinks like Daiquiris or Pina Coladas are usually not as ideal with ice.
Choosing the Rocks
Finally, the type of ice you choose can also impact the drink. You might choose crushed ice for a drink if you want it to be extra cold throughout, but you will compromise on the taste as smaller ice pieces melt faster, thus watering down the drink at a quicker rate.
Alternatively, if you use just one large ice cube when you order on the rocks, your drink might not be as cold throughout, but you’ll be able to sip it for longer without it watering down.
There are other bartending terms that you can use to order a drink that best suits your taste by getting even more specific about what type of drink you’re looking to receive.
A twist means that the drink will come with a citrus peel. This peel adds a hint of zest to your beverage but also a visual appeal.
Ordering your drink chilled means you want it served cold. This description doesn’t necessarily mean there’ll be ice in it, so you should still say on the rocks if you want to add ice.
Finally, a “dirty” drink typically applies to cocktails, and it’s when you add olive brine to the drink, which gives it a salty, pungent kick.
How Do You Drink Your Liquor?
Everyone has their own personal preference when it comes to how they take their drinks, so what’s yours? Leave us a comment below and let us know!