What does it mean when a cocktail is served “on the rocks”?

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“On the rocks” cocktails are the opposite of “straight up” cocktails – they’re served in glasses with ice in them. Typically these cocktails are shaken or stirred with ice, then strained and poured over fresh ice in the serving glass.

On the rocks cocktails become milder in flavor (unless you’re using special ice, a trick The Aviary is famous for) as they sit because the ice melts into the drink. However, they also stay nice and cold.

An example of a cocktail typically served on the rocks is the mojito.

Though I don’t think they’re usually referred to as “on the rocks”, some drinks are instead served with crushed ice. Crushed ice has a higher surface area and thus melts faster and super-chills the drink. A classic example is the mint julep, which is very bold when served but is quickly diluted by its ice.

Related Answers:
What does it mean when a cocktail is served “straight up”?

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