The Meaning Behind Dash And Splash When Making A Drink

From pinch to smidgen, we are no strangers to elusive standards of measurement. While those born of a certain era are probably able to easily decipher a dash from a splash scribbled on the back of a recipe card, the rest may be scratching their chins.

Dashes and splashes are both minuscule amounts, and though they are often used interchangeably, there is a marked difference. A splash is often defined as one-fifth of an ounce, one-twelfth of an ounce, or less than half an ounce. In other words, the consensus is confused. For reference, a teaspoon is one-sixth of an ounce, so it's ultimately more than that ... but make of that what you will. There is no established measurement for a dash, either, but it is less than all of the defined splashes — generally, a shake of a bitters bottle (akin to the output of a bottle of hot sauce).

Perhaps an easy way to remember the differentiation is that just as D comes before S in the alphabet, a dash comes before a splash on the sizing scale as well. Thus, a dash is a bit smaller than a splash.

When to order a dash and when to order a splash

While a seemingly insignificant difference between the two, that extra immeasurable fraction of an ounce or flick of the wrist can definitely affect your favorite cocktail. A well-versed bartender will know the exact difference between a dash and a splash down to its indeterminable decimal point. Many bartenders and mixologists may mentally measure a splash as a one-second pour, for example. 

A drink you may be familiar with that uses a dash is the Manhattan, which requires a dash or two of bitters. Any strong flavor usually calls for a dash. As opposed to a splash of, say, club soda to top off a straight whiskey or lime juice in your tequila on the rocks. Bottom line? You probably won't need to order a dash, it is already built into the recipe of a well-crafted cocktail. The takeaway is that any drink where the ingredient is strong and will impart bold flavor will likely call for a dash (the smaller pour), whereas a splash is a little looser and used with subtler flavors that require a slightly larger quantity to finish off a drink with an added "oomph."

Both a dash and a splash are ultimately subjective, but the general rule of thumb is that a dash is less than a splash and they are both just a smidgen.