How to Shake a Cocktail

Shaking is the best way to cool and dilute a cocktail at the same time, provided you do it correctly. The ice in the shaker will shake violently, breaking down and releasing water into the drink as it cools the surrounding liquid. Shaking, on the other hand, can result in a foamy cocktail that doesn’t always appear so appetizing.

A Cocktail’s Shaking Method

If you’re going to shake, when is the right time to do it? We shake anything with juice, dairy, or eggs as a general rule. Adding foam to these ingredients gives them a more appealing appearance and texture in the glass. If you’ve ever had whipped cream or meringue, you know how good they are.

Even while novices may be concerned about whether or not they’re utilizing the right shaking method, the truth is that it’s a basic process that anyone can pick up quickly and easily. As a bonus, shaking is a great chance to show off your own distinctive flair and wit at a cocktail party.

What You’ll Need

Before we get into the step-by-step instructions, there are a few things you’ll need.

1. A Cocktail Shaker

Cocktail shakers often come in one of two varieties: metal or plastic. Three-piece cobblers are the most common type of cobbler you’ll find at most household goods stores. However, they should be avoided at all costs. It’s tough to open the pieces for cleaning or reusing because of the metal-on-metal construction. In addition, the strainer’s design results in delayed straining, and if there are any confusing components in the drink, some leaves may slip through the strainer’s large holes and end up in your drink.

There are two parts to a Boston shaker: the shaker and the mixing glass. They’re easy to open and reasonably priced, and you can easily replace the mixing glass if it breaks. Bostons require a separate strainer, but this allows you to pick one that’s up to the task.

In our video above, we show a Boston shaker made of pure metal. Pro bartenders are increasingly using them because they’re made up of a larger tin and a smaller one. An excellent tool for controlling temperature, but if you’re just starting off, you may want to stay with transparent glass. Why? Because you can see what you’re doing as you add components to your cocktail by creating it in your mixing glass and then closing the tin on top of it. When you use an all-tin shaker instead of glass, you may be more prone to making mistakes because of the lack of transparency.

Bottles-Up 2-Piece Boston Shaker Bar Set

2. A Cocktail Strainer

If you want to enjoy your drink, you’ll need to remove the mixed particles and the ice cubes you used to dilute it from the shaker and into your glass. In this case, the Boston shaker will require a strainer to go along with your cobbler-free suggestion.

Strainers, like shakers, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. One of these is a julep strainer, which features a bowl-shaped cup with perforations attached to the handle. However, the Hawthorne strainer, which has a flat disc attached to a coiled spring, is our preferred choice. Large ice cubes or slivers, as well as other dense materials like muddled fruit or mint leaves, get caught in the spring. The strainer performs a good job of keeping small ice chips, citrus pulp, and other confusing ingredient particles in the shaker, where they belong. The spring also allows you to control the flow of liquid from the shaker.

OXO Cocktail Strainer

3. The Ingredients for Your Cocktail

Have no idea what to create for a drink? You’ve struck gold. To get you started, we’ve compiled a huge collection of cocktail recipes.

4. Ice Cubes

Ice may seem like the most apparent of elements, but it deserves a little more discussion. Shaking drinks with Tovolo ice cubes, which are one inch in diameter, was formerly regarded to be the finest option. Since then, I’ve come to my senses. Death & Company recommends utilizing larger cubes for shaking, as stated in the book. Using the larger Tovolo King Cube mold, you may achieve the same effect as the bartenders at D & Co by carving a giant block of ice into two-inch cubes. Large cubes have less surface area (relative to mass) than smaller cubes, which means that you can shake your drink long before you get the necessary dilution. Due to the slow disintegration rate of these huge cubes, it is difficult to over-dilute the drink. The final product will be a chilly, well-aerated beverage.

What does “well aerated” mean? Air bubbles are created when you shake a drink. The smaller the bubbles in a larger cube, the finer the cube’s texture will be. It is the difference between a good cocktail and a superb one, according to Jeffrey Morgenthaler in The Bar Book. The texture is “the difference between a juice-forward cocktail and definitely in drinks that involve dairy.”

This isn’t the only thing that divides the experts. To get the dilution just right, D & Co bartenders use the two huge cubes, but they shake them for a long period of time. Instead, as Dave Arnold argues in Liquid Intelligence: Use a giant cube and multiple smaller cubes for the same task. Aeration and dilution will be provided by the huge cube and accomplished through the use of little cubes.

Let’s Shake!

The fun is about to begin. We’re off:

Serve from a chilled serving glass. There are a number of ways to keep it fresh, from putting it in the freezer for a few minutes to filling it with ice and water and leaving it there for five minutes, to using the frozen-vodka method.

Make sure you have the correct amount of each component. Into a mixing glass or smaller pan, add your components while using a jigger (or liquid measuring cup). Alternatively, you may want to muddle your ingredients if the recipe specifies that you are to do so.

Add the ice to the mixture and stir it well. With a variety of cube sizes available, you may add two large (two-inch) cubes and some smaller (one-inch) cubes to your collection. Do not be alarmed if you don’t have any enormous cubes (or even cubes that are square). Regular ice should be used to fill the shaker up to roughly three-quarters of the way. Even if it’s not of professional quality, your drink will still taste great.

Retain the shaker’s seal by placing a lid over it. You must establish a good seal on the shaker when it is closed to prevent leakage while shaking. At a slight angle, place the empty metal mixing tin on top of the filled shaker. Tap the bottom of the tin with the heel of your hand. A strong smack is all that’s needed; no need to slam the tin into it. Your shaker should be easy to remove from your surface or table if you’ve done the sealing correctly. Unless you can lift both tins, you don’t have an airtight seal.

The next step is to assume responsibility for the job. You should keep the shaker out of the way of the guests by placing it over your shoulder with your dominant hand. Any leaks will flow away from your guests and behind you, rather than spraying them in the face.

Make a ruckus! For a minimum of 15 seconds, aggressively shake the bottle. Break up the ice and properly combine the ingredients. Shakes that are too brief or weak won’t cut it. However, you don’t have to go over the top. The ice in the shaker should be rattling around, hitting the sides, the top, and the bottom of the shaker. You can rely on the shaker to notify you when you’re too vigorous.

Remove the shaker’s lid. Take your non-dominant hand and look at the gadget carefully before breaking the seal. The two parts are nestled together on the inside of the curve, as they should be. Toward the end of the curve, there is a larger distance between the two points. A good place to start looking for this separation is as shown in the image below.

The heel of your dominant hand will be your weapon of choice in this situation. Just firmly strike it where the gap is beginning to form, and you won’t need to hit it hard this time around.

Pour an eighth of a cup. If you’re using a mixing glass, take it out of the tin and set it aside, leaving only the cocktail and ice in it. While you’re waiting, prepare your serving glasses, fill them with fresh ice if necessary, and pour the shaken drink in. Remove the garnish and sip away.


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