Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between spirits, liquors, and distilled beverages?
- What does alcohol by volume mean?
- What does alcohol proof mean?
- What is the difference between liquor and liqueur?
- What does it mean when a spirit is served “neat” or “straight?”
- What does it mean when a spirit is served “straight up?”
- What does it mean when a spirit is served “on the rocks?”
- Where can’t you drink alcohol or spirits?
All of these terms are different ways to refer to the same thing, an alcoholic beverage that was produced by distilling the ethanol that resulted from fermenting grain, fruit, or vegetables.
Alcohol by volume, often abbreviated as abv, ABV, or alc/vol, is a standard of measure for alcohol and spirits. It is expressed as a percentage of total volume and tells how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in the spirit. In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations requires liquor labels state the percentage of ABV.
In the United States, alcoholic proof is defined as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume or ABV. For example, a 100 proof spirit contains 50% alcohol by volume and a 86 proof spirit contains 43% alcohol by volume.
Any distilled beverage that is bottled without added sugar and has at least 20% alcohol by volume is a liquor. While, distilled beverages bottled with added sugar or other added flavorings are liqueurs.
A spirit “neat” or “straight” is served at room temperature without any additional ingredient
A spirit “straight up” is strained in a stemmed glass after being shaken or stirred with ice.
A spirit “on the rocks” is served over ice.
In most of the United States, drinking alcohol in public places, like streets and parks, is against the law. Even if there isn’t a ban at the state level (Nevada, Louisiana, Missouri) there is one in the vast majority of the cities and counties within that state.