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Nonalcoholic Drinks Glossary

Use this glossary of words to learn more about the nonalcoholic beverage scene

There are a lot of confusing terms and words thrown around the beverage scene. If you want to up your knowledge of nonalcoholic beer, mocktails, sober life, and everything else, this glossary should get you off to a good start. You’ll find commonly used terms listed here from all areas of the local zeroproof scene.

Note that some of the terms in this glossary are related to drink-making and manufacturing, and some are related to sober culture and substance abuse recovery. Since the culture of nonalcoholic beverages touches on many areas of everyday life, some of those words and phrases seem appropriate for inclusion.

How To Use This Glossary

You can click a letter in this alphabet menu to be taken directly to the words that start with that letter. Or, just scroll freely and read up on them all!

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

ABSTINENCE – The non-use or exclusion of a specific substance or behavior. Abstinence in recovery terms can refer to anything from alcohol and even gambling. Abstinence just simply means that someone is choosing to refrain from using or engaging with something specific.

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME (ABV) – A way of measuring the concentration of alcohol in a drink. ABV represents the number of milliliters of ethanol per 100 milliliters (or 3.4 fl.oz.) in a liquid. The ABV of a beverage is typically listed as a percentage of the overall volume.

ALCOHOL FREE (AF) – The same as “zero-proof”. This signifies that a drink has no alcohol with a 0.0% ABV.

ALCOHOL REMOVED – Used to describe beverages where a beverage was produced originally with alcohol but then the alcohol was removed later. (See also: De-alcoholized)

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS – A twelve-step recovery program using peer mediated support groups created by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Watson in the 1930’s. This model has been used to create other twelve-step programs like Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-non, and many more.

ALE – This is a type of beer that is fermented with a top fermenting yeast and is often served at warmer temps.

APÉRTIF- This type of drink is typically consumed prior to a meal because it is meant to inspire an appetite.

B

BITTERS – A highly concentrated flavor ingredient produced by imparting flavors from botanical matter (such as herbs) into a solvent of water and alcohol. Some bitters include a small amount of alcohol, though some are made with neutral or even vegetable glycerin to achieve a O.0% ABV. If your lifestyle choices require zero alcohol consumption, be mindful that some bitters do contain trace amounts of alcohol.

BLACKOUT – Acute memory loss due to overconsumption of substances like drugs or alcohol. A blackout is often a timeframe where a person is conscious, but later can’t recall anything from those moments.

BOTANICS – These can be herbs, plants, or spices which are typically used for therapeutic or medicinal purposes. There may be only parts of a plant that are harvested for use which can include the bark, roots, leaves, or seeds.

C

CALIFORNIA SOBER – A phrase that describes a lifestyle where someone is abstaining from alcohol but still uses cannabis or THC.

CARBONATION – Bubbles in a beverage that give it a sparkling element. Carbonation can be the result of fermentation or can be added manually in the production process.

CITRUS WEDGE – A garnish made from a citrus fruit cut into a triangular shape opening to the rind. You’ll also sometimes see a semicircle cut referred to as a wedge, though the shape is technically not a proper wedge.

D

De-alcoholized – This refers to alcoholic drinks that have had the alcohol removed. Because flavors are often created by the fermentation process, some nonalcoholic beverages are produced the same way an alcoholic beverage is created, but then are de-alcoholized before the process is finished. (See also: Alcohol Removed)

DETOX – This is used a couple different ways. When a person is clearing their system of alcohol they are going through a detoxification process. Sometimes people will talk about how they had to “detox” to get sober. In serious cases, an alcoholic may need to enter a treatment center to receive medical care while detoxing. People often refer to these centers as “detox”.

DOPPELBOCK – A style of German beer first brewed in Munich by the Paulaner Friars, a Franciscan order founded by St. Francis of Paula. It is typically high in ABV (usually 7-12%) and in sweetness.

DOUBLE OLD-FASHIONED GLASS – The same as a traditional Old-Fashioned Glass but twice the size. A traditional size typically holds 6 – 8 ounces whereas a Double Old-Fashioned Glass typically holds 12 – 14 ounces.

DRAUGHT (DRAFT) – Beverage served from a keg or cask. You’ll mostly find beers on draft, but you can also find kombuchas and soda in some places.

DRY – This is a way to describe the taste of a beverage that is lacking in sweetness.

E

EIGHTY-SIX – Restaurant and bar slang to describe being out of a product or ingredient.

EUPHORIC RECALL – This is an addictions recovery term that describes when someone remembers only the good times from when they were actively abusing substances.

EXPRESSING – The act of squeezing a citrus rind over a flame (usually a lit match) and releasing the oils from the rind into the drink as they pass through the flame. When the flammable oils reach the heat of the flame a quick ignition is made to the oils, giving them a mild smoky flavor.

F

FERMENTATION – The process of breaking down organic matter chemically. The process of fermentation is usually set in motion by bacteria, yeasts, or molds. These feed on the sugars, using it as food to break down the sugars. The process converts these sugars into a new form, such as gasses or alcohol.

FINISH – A tasting term that describes the impression a beverage leaves after you’ve swallowed it.

FLAIRING – This refers to actions a bartender makes, and not so much about the beverage itself. Flairing is kind of an acrobatic routine of flipping bottles and juggling glasses and any dramatic method of adding a choreographed activity into the process of making a drink.

FREE POUR – The act of pouring a drink directly from a bottle without measuring.

FREE RUN JUICE – A juice that has been extracted from the fruit prior to being pressed.

G

GARNISH – A decoration used to bring a creative appearance to the glass. Garnishes can be as simple as a twist of lemon or a series of items skewered together.

GROWLER – A glass or ceramic jug used to transport and store draft beverages like beer, soda, or kombucha.

H

HAPPY HOUR – A few hours of a day, usually occurring immediately after a traditional workday, where bars or eateries offer specials or discounted items.

HARVEST – When fruits or vegetables are picked from their vine or trees.

HOLISTIC – A treatment model that intends to care for all areas of human wellness at once, rather than focusing on a single area.

HOPS – One of the basic ingredients in beer. The flower of the plant is the part that’s used and it can help negotiate the flavor, stability, and bitterness of a beer.

I

ICE – Frozen water. For the purposes of beverages, it’s typically formed in a particular shape. Recent cocktail culture has gotten very scientific and nerdy about how beverage ice is formed and the shape it should take for the type of drink it will be in.

INFUSION – The process of imparting a flavor from part of a plant into a liquid. Vanilla extract is a good example because vanilla beans are steeped/soaked in a liquid that takes on the vanilla flavor from the bean.

J

JIGGER – A double-sided measuring cup with one side usually measuring .5 ounce and the other measuring 1 ounce. A jigger is used for measuring liquid ingredients before adding to a beverage.

JUICE – The liquid extract from vegetables (like tomato juice) or fruit (like grape juice) for the purposes of drinking. 

K

KOMBUCHA – Tea that has been fermented with the use a culture made of yeast and bacteria. Kombucha is believed by some to have some health benefits. While it once was popular to ferment black tea for kombucha, there are many people using other types of teas and even coffees. Fruit juices and botanicals are also often included to create new flavor profiles.

KOSHER – Food or beverages produced according to kosher laws within the Jewish faith.

L

LACE – A beer-related term that describes the fishnet looking remnants that sticks to the inside of the glass after beer has touched it. The lace-like pattern will often appear as a glass is being emptied as its consumed.

Lace from a Beer on a Glass
Lace from an Untitled Art Chocolate Milk Dark Brew NA beer

LEGS – A wine tasting term to describe how wine adheres to the sides of the glass after swirling.

LENGTH – A tasting term to describe how long the taste of something remains in your mouth after swallowing.

M

MEAD – An alcoholic drink made from the fermentation of honey, water, and yeast, and typically other ingredients for flavor.

MOCKTAIL – A drink with multiple ingredients that is often meant to present the same way a cocktail would but without alcoholic ingredients. The term has brought criticism by some who feel that including “mock” in the name doesn’t take seriously enough what a mocktail can mean to those who abstain from alcohol. Colloquially, the term mocktail has become much more popular in recent years.

MUDDLE – The process of crushing fruit and/or plant material to express their juices or oils.

MUDDLER – A bartending tool that looks similar to a pestle that is used to muddle fruit and plant material.

N

NEAR BEER – Another name for an NA beer.

NEAT – A single ingredient in a glass for drinking. If a bourbon is poured “neat” then there is only bourbon in the glass and nothing else.

NOLO – Another term for a low-alcohol or nonalcoholic drink. The National Library of Medicine describes a NoLo beverage as having no or low alcohol.

NONALCOHOLIC – A wide-ranging term meant to imply that a drink has either no ethanol alcohol, or such a low amount that it is negligible. The ABV of a beverage qualifying for nonalcoholic status is different in many countries around the world. In the United States a nonalcoholic beverage must have less than .5% ABV.

NONNY – An occasionally used nickname for a nonalcoholic drink.

NOSE – A tasting term that describes the bouquet and aroma of a wine.

O

OAST HOUSE – A building or kiln for drying hops to be used in the process of brewing beer.

ON THE ROCKS – This just means that the drink is poured over ice.

OPEN – A wine tasting term that marks a time when the wine is ready to drink.

P

PARISIAN SHAKER – Sometimes called a “French Shaker” this is a bartending device that includes a cap (or lid) but no strainer.

PILSNER (PILS) –  A type of beer that is  bottom-fermented with a high ratio of hops. It’s named after the city of Plzeň in Germany where it was first brewed.

PINK CLOUD – A phrase that describes the experience of being in early recovery from addiction. Some people who are new to sobriety feel a sense of euphoria invoked by an acute positive turnaround in their lives.

POP – A regional term for a soft drink. Typically, this is used by residents in the Midwestern United States, but in parts of New York it is heavily used.

PROOF – This is a measurement of how much alcohol exists in a beverage. The proof is twice the percentage of the Alcohol By Volume. So, if a drink is 10% ABV then it would be 20 proof.

Q

R

RICH SYRUP – A simple sugar syrup but made with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water so that it’s particularly sweet.

ROCKS – A popular nickname for ice. When you hear a drink ordered “with rocks” or “over rocks” that just means it will include ice.

S

SCOBY – A culture of bacteria and yeast used to kickstart the the fermentation process to produce kombucha.

SOBER CURIOUS – This phrase was coined by Ruby Warrington who authored the book Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol. The concept of being sober curious is just simply to mean that someone is eager to learn more about their own alcohol consumption how abstinence or bouts of abstinence could improve their quality of life.

SOMMELIER – A wine expert who has trained extensively in various areas related to wine. Typically a sommelier will be found working in a restaurant as they’re adept at pairing wines with menu items. They’re typically in charge of creating wine menus and providing support to other restaurant staff about the wines served in house. There are numerous certifications and levels a sommelier can achieve, some of which are issued by the Court of Master Sommeliers in the United Kingdom.

STEIN – A type of mug intended for consuming beer. Also sometimes called a “beer stein”. First invented in Germany, the “stein” etymology comes from its meaning “stone” because early steins were often made of stone. Modern steins can also be made of stone, pewter, glass, or even wood.

STRAIGHT UP – A drink served without ice.

SWITCHEL – A beverage made with molasses, apple cider vinegar, and ginger and often includes other ingredients for flavor. Can be carbonated, uncarbonated, or fermented.

T

TANNINS – Astringent phenolic compounds found in many different types of plant life but when found in a beverage can taste bitter and leave a dry feeling in the mouth. Black teas are high in tannins as well as many wines.

TRIGGER – A sensory stimulus that inspires a particular memory of an experience or a feeling.

U

UP – Another way of saying “straight up” which means a drink is served without ice.

V

VACUUM DISTILLATION – A process where alcohol is removed by heating the liquid until the alcohol evaporates.

VIRGIN – A nonalcoholic version of an alcoholic drink. While a mocktail can be any drink with multiple ingredients that presents the way a cocktail would, a virgin drink is a specific recipe but without the alcohol. An example would be a Virgin Mary which is the nonalcoholic version of a Bloody Mary.

W

WINE – Alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grapes.

X

Y

YEAST PITCHING – The point in a beer brewing process where yeast is added to wort to start the fermentation process.

Z

ZERO-PROOF – A distinction that signifies a drink is entirely alcohol free with 0.0% ABV.

ZINFANDEL – A black-skinned grape varietal used for making wine.

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