Many cocktail recipes require some form of shaking technique and bartenders around the world are finding that the easiest way to shake a cocktail is by using a cocktail shaker. This magnificent technology allows for bartenders-- amateurs and experienced ones, to create beautiful tasting drinks, in an easy and fast manner. Some people (me, I'm some people) say that properly shaking your cocktail will enhance the flavors and overall give a mixed drink a better taste.
Now that you know that your best shot at properly shaking a cocktail is to use a cocktail shaker, you're probably wondering how to use one. Well, before we get into that, we need to go over a few basic bartender things.
I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake...
What You Need to Shake a Cocktail
- Cocktail Shaker: There are two styles of cocktail shakers1, a 2-piece Boston shaker and a 3-piece shaker. Both styles work great for any mixed drink, which means you get to decide which one you would like to use. You should know that the 3-piece shaker comes with a built-in strainer, but a Boston shaker does not. You should also know that many bartenders recommend using a 3-piece stainless steel cocktail shaker because it's stronger and won't eventually crack like a glass might.
- Ice cubes (Regular ice cubes are recommended)
- The types of booze your recipe calls for
- If you're using a Boston Shaker, you will need a strainer
How to Properly Shake a Cocktail Using a Cocktail Strainer
It should only take you 1-2 minutes and a total of six steps to properly shake a cocktail with a cocktail shaker.
If you're using a 3-piece shaker, start at step 1. For all 2-piece Boston shaker users, jump to step 2.
- Fill the shaker up with ice
- Gather the specified ingredients from your recipe and pour all the ingredients into the cocktail shaker (if using a Boston shaker, pour the ingredients into a glass mixing cup, and then add the ice).
- Place the lid or shaker tin on the shaker. Make sure the lid is secure to avoid spills and messes.
- With 2 hands, hold the shaker and powerfully shake over one of your shoulders (whichever shoulder feels more natural).
- Shake the shaker for 10 seconds (count to ten slowly in your head).
- For the last step, strain the mixed drink into an already cold glass. If the drink is supposed to be on the rocks, make sure to pour the cocktail over ice.
Tips For Properly Shaking a Cocktail
For consistent and great tasting mixed drinks, mimic the following steps:
- Always make sure to put ice in the shaker first if you're using the 3-piece shaker, in order to chill the shaker and ingredients while the drink is being made.
- Never overload the cocktail shaker. This can cause unnecessary messes and spills at the bar or at home.
- Keep in mind that not all mixed drinks have a set time of 10 seconds to be shaken. Some cocktails need to be shaken longer because they have different ingredients, like drinks made with eggs or cream, or any other extra ingredients. Some drinks can be shaken up to 30 seconds or more.
- For Cocktails that involve eggs in the ingredients, shake the ingredients in the shaker before adding in the ice.
- If you're using a stainless steel cocktail shaker, you will be able to tell when your drink is finished being shaken when the shaker forms frost.
- Shake to a beat or rhythm to have more fun and create a positive vibe for your customers! Cha, cha, cha!
- Don't be afraid to shake the cocktail shaker with a lot of force and oomph to thoroughly mix your drink.
- Always keep a firm grip when shaking so you don't accidentally drop the shaker.
Why Should You Shake Cocktails?
Even though it's a lot of fun to shake, shake, shake a cocktail into a beautifully-tasting masterpiece, that's not the main reason we do it. You should shake your cocktails to:
- thoroughly and properly mix your drinks
- cool/chill the drink
- dilute the drink so it's not too strong
How to Avoid Mistakes When Shaking a Cocktail
There's more to shaking a cocktail shaker then just, well, shaking it. I'm not going to say there's a wrong way to use a shaker, but I will say there is a right way. Common tips to help you avoid mistakes at all costs are:
- Make sure you are shaking the right drinks2. Between all the excitement of learning how to use your new cocktail shaker, maybe you forgot that some drinks call for stirring, rather than shaking (it happens to the best of us). You shake a cocktail when the ingredients include3 juices, citrus, and dairy products such as eggs, cream, and milk. You stir a cocktail when the ingredients are only booze (like a martini) unless the spirits are cream liqueurs. You would also stir cocktails that include tonic, soda, or sparkling wine.
- Make sure you add the ingredients in the correct order. The order of ingredients should go from the cheapest to the most expensive ingredient (with this method, you will typically end with a type of alcohol).
- Use the right ice. The best ice to use for a cocktail is a solid ice cube rather than ice chips or smaller ice cubes. It's important to use the correct ice so that your drink doesn't become too diluted.
Once you've learned all these tips on how to properly use a cocktail shaker, all you will need to do is practice! Once you have a set rhythm and get used to using a shaker, you will be ready to make cocktails all day long! Don't forget to have fun and to shake with your cocktail shaker.
1, Graham, C. (2019) How to Properly Shake a Cocktail. Retrieved October 30, 2020 from https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-shake-cocktails-760319
2, Mancall-Bitell, N. (2018). How to Shake Cocktails the Right Way. Retrieved October 30, 2020 from https://www.thrillist.com/how-to/cocktail-shaking-mistakes
3, Newman, K. (2012). To Shake or to Stir. Retrieved October 30, 2020 from https://www.winemag.com/2012/09/12/to-shake-or-to-stir/