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Bartending Tips

When and How To Stir Cocktails

Bartender stirring a cocktail drink with bar spoon

When and How To Stir Cocktails

Well look at you! Sitting there with all your awesomeness and trying to learn the proper ways to make those lovely cocktails.

We’re happy that you are reading this.  Let’s learn together how and when to stir a cocktail.

When Should I Stir a Cocktail

We all think that we are masters at doing this as it seems like such a simple thing to just jam a spoon inside a glass and just do some circles and stuff.

However, the purpose behind stirring in mixing and making cocktails is delicate and requires actual attention. Your goal here is to gently combine the ingredients of your drink and dissolve just enough ice to dilute that mix.  The result is a gentle flavor on the alcohol which makes it more enjoyable for the drinker.

Compared to shaking, stirring is actually such a gentle technique and it is done exclusively in specific scenarios such as :

When the ingredients are made of pure spirits or liquors whichever you like to call it. Even though you can still shake them as some guests or customers might prefer it that way, however it is much better to stir them ( examples of such drinks are the Negroni, Manhattan & Martini )

Above is the main technical aspect of stirring cocktails, but you’ll still find yourself stirring when making a drink directly in the same glass without the use of a mixing cup. Mainly drinks that are served in Collins & Low/Highball glasses would be the nominated subjects ( Example : Whiskey Blends, White Russian etc. ) You can either leave the drink as it is and let the drinker use a stirrer or a straw or you can stir it for them.

Equipment you will need for stirring

  1. Mixing Cup : This is the essential part of a stirred cocktail. It is the container in which you will pour in the ingredients of the drink ( It is mostly made of metal or glass but can be other material ) Usually the mixing cups or glasses will have a beaker like spout for pouring the cocktail at the end.
  2. Bar Spoon : The second most essential part of the stirs. I mean how can we stir without an actual spoon ? ( Let’s not think too deeply )
    Most spoons will vary in length and some will have strainers or muddlers on their opposite end & can be quite a handy bar tool.
  3. Cocktail Strainer : If you’ve been following us, you will know the two main types of strainers ( the Hawthorne & the julep strainer )
    Usually you will use a julep strainer for stirred drinks because it just produces a smoother pour out of your mixing cup. Hawthornes on the other hand are the most popular with shakers, but they can also be sufficient and valid for stirred cocktails as well.
  4. Ice Cubes :  Usually we always recommend high quality ice cubes for most stirred cocktails & sometimes you will need to use crushed or cracked ice depending on what you want the result drink to taste like ( extra diluted ? then go for small or crushed ice, otherwise stick with big cubes)

Okay But
How do I Stirr ?

Sir, here’s how you Stir : ( Ladies as well, but we gotta keep the rhymes in check ! ) 

  1.  Combine the ingredients : We always recommend using a jigger to measure your cocktail’s components accurately. Go ahead and start by pouring all the cocktail’s components into the mixing cup ( liquors, liqueurs, bitters, juices etc. )
  2. Add the ice cubes :  You should fill at least half of the mixing cup as a rule of thumb ( friendly tip : look for the ice cubes sitting above the top layer of the liquid, if not add more until they do )
  3. Grip up : Place the spoon between the middle and ring fingers of your dominant hand, about a quarter way down from the top of the handle. Tilt your hand sideways into the stirring position and loosely grip the spoon handle using your index finger and thumb.
  4.  Stir away : Shove that spoon right in the mixing cup while making sure that it’s backside is touching or resting on the cup. You will find your hand remaining in it’s place above the glass all the time since the motion of the spoon will come strictly from your fingers. Simply use your fingers to rotate the spoon around the edges of the cup while always keeping the back of the spoon touching the cup’s wall as it rotates. You’ll know you’re doing it right if the ice cubes all spin together coherently.
    Keep at it for around 30 seconds.
  5. Strain the mix : Now that you are done, remove the bar spoon and place your chosen strainer on top of the mixing cup.  Make sure to hold it place and lift them together as you pour the resulting cocktail into your chosen glass.

    Don’t forget to place a straw & garnish the drink for those final epic touches and as always … Sköl !

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