Scotch, Whiskey, and Bourbon are all drinks that beg to impress with their subtle and complex flavoring. Drinking each of these and noticing their unique nuances makes for an experience far beyond getting tipsy. Instead, you savor the sipping drink slowly and kind of let your surroundings unfold the same way.  Last week after my fifth bourbon distillery tour (somehow these come up pretty often when you live in Kentucky), I reflected on how  different my experience was a year ago on  learning to actually taste these drinks by sipping them slowly and without mixers.  Now I understand why Bourbon, along with scotch (which are both forms of whiskey), are ordered neat or on the rocks, and I’ve found a few fun tricks that come with the territory.

Benefits of ordering drinks straight up:

  1. Pleasant pace: These are sipping drinks, so one drink can keep you occupied for as long as 2 or more beers, mixed drinks, or glasses of wine. I don’t think I really need to go into the health, financial, and decision making implications of drinking less alcohol.
  2. A little Spunk: Bars and restaurants are just wisening up to the whiskey trend, noticing the notable womens’ interest in the beverage. Studies have shown that women typically have a wider-ranging palate that allows them to taste the different notes that come out when sipping whiskey.  They’ve also shown that women who drink whiskey feel empowered. I can attest to that, because I always feel like a bit of a bad ass when I order a bourbon on the rocks.
  3. Under the radar: Whiskey drinkers  have yet to be profiled. Movies, articles, and studies have unleashed a long list of stereotypes that accompany drinkers of different alcoholic beverages, from the name of the drink to how they hold the bottle or stem of glass. Whiskey drinks and the tumblers they come in are luckily excluded from these psychological profiles, and thus, you are free to present yourself free of pretenses from your drink.


  • Neat=Straight=nothing mixed with drink and no ice
  • On the Rocks=with ice

Good to know:

  • Drinks ordered neat are served in a shot glass, but you still sip them.
  • Drinks ordered on the rocks are served in a tumbler and sometimes have an upcharge. This is because they add more alcohol to counteract the diluting ice.
  • Bourbon and Scotch are types of whiskey, and are differentiated by many factors including how many times they are distilled, how long they are aged, and what kind of barrel they are aged in.