The Home Bartender Series Two: Shaking and Straining
In the first part of the home bartender series we taught you about cocktail equipment and the cocktail kit you’d need for home use!
In this post we’re going to teach you about two common methods of cocktail creation; shaking and stirring.
Shaking a cocktail is an art form. Once a bartender has poured the liquor, ice cubes, juices and other liquid into a shaker and formed a tight seal, they have to shake their cocktail with just enough force that they mix the ingredients without over-diluting the final product. The perfect shake will give a drink enough aeration and dilution to balance the ingredients. Once you have your own shaker tin and have practiced shaking mixed drinks, you’ll start to develop your own signature shaking style.
Why do we shake cocktails? The general rule for which cocktails to shake vs. which to stir are those that have fresh citrus or juices that need to be broken up. We shake cocktails to thoroughly mix the ingredients as well as to chill and dilute them.
Here are a few quick tips for shaking your cocktail at home:
1. If you are using a Boston shaker (two-piece shaker), you will add your ingredients to the big tin, then add cubed ice to the big tin (about 3 quarters full). Place your small tin inside your big tin and firmly tap it closed. It should close at a slight angle and form a seal.
Pick up the closed shaker with one hand on the top tin and the other hand holding the bottom tin firmly. You want to shake hard in a back and forth motion (you want to wake it up not put it to sleep). Shake for 10-15 seconds until the shakers get very cold. To open the tins, place them on a counter and tap firmly on the side of the shaker where there is a slight gap until it pops open. Place a calabrese or hawthorne strainer over the big tin. Use one finger to secure the strainer in place while holding the big tin. Use a fine strainer in the other hand and strain your cocktail into a glass (the fine strainer will catch all the ice shards and fruit pieces).
2. If you are using a Cobbler shaker, you’ll want to combine all your ingredients in the base. Fill the base with two thirds of ice. Place the top firmly on the base and then the cap (be careful not to hit it on). Pick up the closed shaker with one hand on the top holding the cap and one hand gripping the bottom. Be sure to shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. The cap should always be on-top when shaking. After shaking, lift off the cap and hold the shaker by it’s base with one finger securing the top. Use a fine strainer and pour the cocktail through the built in strainer in your Cobbler and the fine strainer into your glass (the fine strainer with catch all the ice shards and fruit pieces).
- 2. Stirring
The rule of thumb when it comes to stirring is that cocktails that are purely spirit based or spirit and syrup basked (like an old fashioned) get stirred. The reason for this is that when a cocktail is stirred, there is very little aeration which creates a more velvet mouthfeel. This is perfect for spirit-forward cocktails. Stirring also chills and dilutes your cocktail.
Here are some tips for stirring:
1. Add your ingredients to your mixing glass. If you want, you can chill your mixing glass before hand.
2. Place your barspoon in the mixing glass and then add ice. You want to fill your mixing glass with a decent amount of ice.
3. Hold the barspoon between your ring finger and middle finger and grip it with your thumb and index finger. Let your fingers do the work and not your wrist. Try to keep the back of the barspoon flush with the mixing glass to create a smooth motion. Try to be as quiet as possible when stirring. Noise correlates with the possibility of chipping ice & over-diluting the cocktail.
4. Stir for about 40-45 seconds. Your mixing glass should be nice and cold.
5. Remove the barspoon and place the strainer over the mixing glass. Use a julep, calabrese or hawthorne strainer. Hold the mixing glass and secure the strainer with a finger.
6. Strain into a cocktail glass.
You’re on your way to becoming a great home bartender! Next we’ll talk about throwing and building a cocktail!