What Does Neat Mean In A Drink? Answered (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

If you’re a first-timer in bars and fine dining restaurants, you probably heard of people ordering drinks “neat.”

As a novice, you may wonder what it means and why it’s called that way. 

Today, we’ll make a quick discussion about what neat means in a drink and all you need to know about serving styles.  

What It Means When Your Drink Is “Neat” 

glasses of whiskey

A neat drink means consuming your drink without any added ingredients or action beyond the simple pour.

In short, you drink whiskey, in particular, as is, without adding water, ice, etc. 

People usually prefer their drinks neat when they’re having premium and high-quality spirits, as they want to fully enjoy their flavor profile and character. 

Diluting your drink with water or ice can change its equilibrium–bringing molecules to its surface, and releasing certain notes within the spirit. 

So if you want to preserve the flavor and notes of liquor, we suggest drinking it neat.

How Do You Order A Drink “Neat?” 

When it comes to ordering your drink, here’s how you can go about it: 

  • When you ask for a specific type of liquor, add the word “neat” next to it. For instance, if you want to drink whiskey, you can say  “neat whiskey” or “whiskey served neat.”
  • Before you order, decide the brand you prefer. If the brand you want is available, you can say “I would like a whiskey neat with Jack Daniel’s.”
  • If you want something on the side of your drink, like a “twist,” just add it at the end of your order, like this: “I’d like Jack Daniel’s, neat, with a twist.” 

How Do You Drink It? 

man drinking whiskey
  • Use the right type of glass. Neat drinks are usually served in a lowball glass. It has a wider mouth, allowing you to freely sniff the spirit’s aroma.  
  • Opt for a high-quality spirit. It’s much more enjoyable and satisfying drinking a high-quality spirit that you really like. 
  • In your glass, pour the right amount of liquor (let’s say whiskey), and that’s 2 oz per lowball glass [1]. This applies to tequila and vodka, as well. 
  • It’s better to serve a drink at room temperature to allow the flavors to develop properly.
  • Take short sips. It allows you to savor all the qualities and elements of the drink– from the nose to finish. 

Neat vs Straight Up

Aside from ordering drinks neat, there are different serving styles you need to be familiar with when ordering. Another popular style is “straight up.”  

How does neat differ from straight up? 

While neat is serving drinks “on its own,” straight up is serving drinks stirred or shaken with ice– but served in the same manner as neat; no ice in it. 

“Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, ‘I’m thirsty, not dirty.”

— Joe E. Lewis, Film Actor

Serving a drink with ice means another style– called “on the rocks.”

Some experienced drinkers prefer having their drinks straight up; they can enjoy them chilled while preserving the liquor’s flavor and notes, as no water or ice will tone down its profile. 

However, straight up is common in mixed drinks or cocktails, and not on straight liquors, except a straight bourbon.    

What Drinks Can You Order Neat? 

pouring whiskey on a glass

You can order different spirits neat, but whiskey is the most common spirit served neat. However, you can also try the following drinks neat:

The Best Alcohol To Drink Neat 

The best alcohol to drink neat is definitely whiskey, among any other spirits. Some of the best types of whiskey for drinking neat include:


How do you ask for a whiskey neat at a bar?

To ask for a whiskey neat at the bar, you can simply ask the bartender for a “whiskey served neat.” If you want a particular brand or garnish, just add it to your order. 

Is drinking vodka neat harmful?

Drinking vodka neat can be harmful if you consume more than your liver can process.

Consuming vodka neat can go straight to your bloodstream, liver, and other parts of your body, and you’re BAC may rise quickly. 

To Sum It Up 

Drinking alcohol neat is a great way to appreciate the satisfying taste of liquor, as it’s not diluted, allowing you to enjoy its pure character and profile. 

Ordering drinks neat at a bar or restaurant isn’t complicated. You need to be sure of the brand you like and if you want something on the side. 

Most importantly, follow the tips we shared and be confident. Opt for premium and high-quality spirits, and always drink responsibly.   



Lisa Dimarco

Lisa is a freelance lifestyle writer specializing in nightlife, leisure, and celebration. She has been in the field for eight years and has written articles featured in various local blogs and lifestyle magazines. For Lisa, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink after a rough day (she’s not fussy). But she also likes to get a bit fancy every now and then. She believes you can never go wrong with a Moscow Mule or a classic Daiquiri anywhere you go. Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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