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Bartending Tips

How To Shake a Cocktail

Bartender shaking a cocktail inside a Boston shaker

How To Shake a Cocktail

First, we are absolutely happy that you’re reading this! It means you are interested in learning the art of making tasty cocktails.

Let us learn one of the most important things in the process of making that delicacy, shaking.

It is arguably one of the most unnecessarily overly complicated thing about bartending; think it is because bartenders love to make their job look that hard? Well good news is we are here to make it easy for you!

Why do we shake cocktails in the first place ?

Glad you asked ! Shaking is one of the best ways to chill and dilute a cocktail when done the right way. Also one thing to note is that it causes drinks to foam up as well, which could sometimes make a beautiful cocktail look… well not so beautiful.

Good thing is you’re reading this so you’ll know exactly when to shake a cocktail.

The rule of thumb is to shake any drink that contains juice, dairy or eggs.  These ingredients are hard to break up by stirring which is why we prefer always shaking them to get that pleasing texture when they are foamy.

What equipment do I need

1) Cocktail Shaker : This is the number one thing on your shopping list, you’re going to need at least one shaker in your collection ( You can chose from Boston, Cobbler or French Shakers )

Cobbler shakers are the three pieced ones with the metal body, top part with a built in strainer & cap (these are the go to shakers for beginners since it saves you the hassle from having to use a strainer but might not be the best shaker overall especially if your cocktail needs volume, which then the Boston shaker could be the better alternative )

Boston Shakers are arguably the most popular ones consisting of two parts ( a large tin coupled with a smaller glass (classic Boston shaker ) or a smaller tin ( tin-on-tin shaker )
It is the harder one to use but the most efficient and popular one amongst bartenders.
You will need a Hawthorne/julep strainer coupled with it.

French/Parisian Shakers are the rarest type of the three, it looks like the cobbler shaker but it does not have a built in strainer or cap and it works somewhat similar to the Boston shaker except it does not have the large volume benefit of this last one.

2) Cocktail Strainer : You’re going to need to pour that cocktail into your glass and let’s be honest no one wants those muddled leftover pieces and the ice that will overly dilute your drink and ruin it’s fabulous look.

** If you’re using a cobbler shaker you will not need a strainer as it is built in with it **

Assuming you are using a Boston/French shaker you’re gonna need a strainer for sure and there are two main types ( The Julep Strainer & The Hawthorne Strainer )
The Julep Strainer looks like a hollowed bowl attached to a handle while the Hawthorne strainer consists of a hollowed flat surface with a coil attached around it forming a near circle.

3) The Ingredients of your drink : Duh ! okay but in all seriousness make sure you have all that list of liquors, juices, bitters or whatever you’re using ready !

4) Ice Cubes : Surely you will need good quality ice cubes to pop inside that shaker. We always recommend avoiding small broken pieces as they will melt quickly inside the drink

Shaking Time !

  1.  ** Optional ** Chill your chosen glass :  Some cocktails are served straight up ( without ice ) and you might want to pre-chill your glass to keep that cocktail cool and tasty.
  2. Pour the ingredients : We always recommend using a jigger in order to precisely measure the components of the cocktail.  Make sure to pour all of the ingredients inside the main part of the shaker.
  3. Add Ice : Splash those ice cubes inside the shaker
  4. Seal the shaker :  Before you start the fun you’re gonna need to seal the shaker and make sure it is tight and will not spill ( having to mop eggs and juice from the floor otherwise… is not fun )  Just place the other empty half of your shaker ( or the top part if we’re using a cobbler/French shaker ) on top of the main part and make sure to push them together ( no need to be overly aggressive, just make sure they are tight
    ** You’ll know it’s tight if you can pick it up from the top part and it stays together ( try at your own risk ! ) **
  5. Get in position :  Hold the shaker in an horizontal manner, away from your friends/guests or who ever is near you, using both hands and place it just above your shoulders. At least If your seal was not great then it won’t leak on anyone ( fingers crossed )
  6. Get shakin : As soon as you assume position immediately start shaking vigorously for about 15 seconds by pushing the shaker away from you and then back to you in a slight up and down fashion such as you feel the ice moving from one end of the shaker to the opposite end again and again. You will feel the shaker getting extremely cold during this process ( be ready to handle it ! )
  7. Unseal the shaker : When you’re done shakin you’re gonna want to tap on the shaker where it’s two pieces are collided together ( on the side opposite to where the small tin or the top part is leaning towards )  This should break the seal and you will be able to separate the shaker’s parts ( You could chose to twist the top part or to squeeze the bottom part of the shaker as you remove the top part. It is up to you )
  8. Pour the cocktail : If you’re using a cobbler shaker, remove the cap and just pour the mix inside your chosen glass as it gets strained simultaneously ( you might need a fine mesh strainer in addition if the cocktail contains very small pieces that will go through the cobbler’s built in strainer’s holes )
    Then if you’re using a Boston or a French shaker, place your chosen strainer ( Hawthorne or Julep ) inside or on top of the large shaker body that contains the mix & while holding the strainer together with the shaker, lift them together and pour the mix into the glass as it gets simultaneously strained.

    ** Don’t forget to add ice to your serving glass if you want to before pouring the cocktail **

    Proceed to garnish your cocktail and …  Sköl !

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