Shaken or stirred -make the right choice for your cocktail

Cocktails that are shaken not stirred

Cocktails shaken or stirred, what is a better choice?

Shaking a cocktail is the traditional way to serve one, but today there's a lot of great benefit in knowing how to make a drink with ice and soda water shaken, not stirred. The best way to learn is by trying a few different drinks and seeing which you like the best, but here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding between the two.

'Shaken' cocktails are made using ice and liquid, no other ingredients are added, the cocktail is then strained through a cocktail strainer. The result is a cocktail with a lot of freshness and a lot of drama.

Whether you like your cocktail shaken or stirred, the choice can make a difference. In this guide, we?ll cover the differences between the two methods and which is best for different drinks. We?ll also look at some of the other options for making your drink, like the old-school method of using a Hawthorne strainer and the latest fangled methods like the AeroPress and the Clover.

Bars and Restaurants offer both: it?s your choice

There are two schools of thought when it comes to making a cocktail: shaken and stirred. The former, which uses a traditional bartender?s mixture of ice, liquor and sometimes mixer, is the more common method. The latter, which uses a similar base but instead uses a blender or specialized tool to emulsify the liquor, is the more esoteric method. But which is better?
If you?re like me, you probably love a good cocktail. Whether you prefer your drinks whiskey sour or stiff gimlet, the right drink can lift your spirits and help you relax. But when it comes to choosing how to make your cocktail, there?s a lot of confusion. I?ve been told that I should shake my drinks instead of stirring, but is that even true?

Cocktail Shaker

Cocktail Stirrir

The science of Mixing Drinks

No matter how you prefer your cocktail, the choice of whether to shake or stir your beverage is an important one. Shaking cocktails ensures that ingredients are well-mixed, while stirring allows for better extraction of flavour and aroma from the ingredients. Some cocktails are better suited to one style of preparation than the other, and knowing when to use one over the other can help you create cocktails with better flavour and presentation.
While stirred cocktails are served with the goal of achieving a silky mouth-feel, velvety texture, precise dilution and perfect clarity, shaking a cocktail, on the other hand, changes the texture and aerates the drink with tiny air bubbles. The ice, being violently shaken about inside the shaker, also aerates the drink with tiny air bubbles, which are held in suspension in the liquid, giving the cocktail a cloudy appearance.
Moreover, Stirring helps to not over-dilute, over-cool or ruin the structure of the drink. stirring mixes, the ingredients lightly and the ice is left to either melt on its own or the liquors are chilled beforehand

Science and Ingredients decide which path to follow

Based on the science of emulsification, cocktails that have several liquids of different textures and use mixes and bitters, are best shaken with ice and strained, so that all ingredients blend well into one another and produces a rich complex texture.
While, ideally, all booze-forward cocktails are best served stirred, not shaken. Booze forward cocktails are cocktails that are served with a high alcohol content. They are served stirred not shaken because shaking a cocktail can cause the ice to melt and dilute the drink.

Stirring a Glass

Glass Stirrer

Why do bars and restaurants offer both options?

No matter how you prefer your cocktail, the choice of whether to shake or stir your beverage is an important one. When you order a cocktail at a bar or restaurant, you often have the option of choosing whether you?d like your cocktail shaken or stirred. If you?re not sure which style of preparation will yield the best results, you?re not alone ? but the choice is important. When you shake a cocktail, you?re ensuring that all of the ingredients are well-mixed, which helps to bring out their flavours and aromas. Stirring, on the other hand, allows you to better extract the flavour and aroma of the ingredients.

Go for the option that best suits the ingredients, and, the rule of thumb is, if the cocktail is supposed to be light or clear or mildly cloudy and is heavy on spirits, prefer it stirred to enjoy that mouthfeel of the liquor and enjoy the mixers like lime and aerated water at the same time, without having an emulsified liquid feel to it.

If it comes with several liqueurs, juices and mixes like citrus, cream or egg, have it shaken so that the intended effect of all the ingredients in a perfect blend reaches your senses.

IF you are not sure, the bar man is there for you to ask.

Once again, the rule of thumb in even simpler words ? if you are mixing booze with booze, stir. If you are mixing booze with a whole lot of everything else, shake.

Bartenders tend to prefer one over the other

When you walk into a bar, the first thing you notice is the bartender. The bartender is the focal point of your drink experience. They?re the one who makes your drink, gives you the drink, and most importantly?takes your drink. Your bartender is your connection to your drink. Many of them have their own preferences and techniques and even if you are a certified mixologist yourself, listen to them and their reason behind choosing one over the other.

Cocktail Stirring Technique

Cocktail Strainer

How to Stir a Cocktail Correctly

basic bar setup includes a mixing glass and a barspoon and that?s all you need to stir a cocktail, the perfect way.
While there are plenty of fancy, specialized cocktail mixing glasses, the trusty pint/Boston glass is standard at many bars. A julep strainer fits inside it perfectly, and they?re fairly affordable, so you don?t have to worry if you drop one on the floor.

A barspoon is a long-handled spoon with a twisted handle that allows it to spin easily in your hand. The opposite end of the spoon may be topped with a flat circle for pressing herbs or muddle, a trident for skewering garnish, or some counterweight to create a smooth stirring motion.

The way to stir a cocktail is to fill the glass with ingredients and fill with ice, dip the spoon into the ice and no deeper and while keeping the back of your spoon constantly in touch with the inside of the glass, stir in a way that makes the ice swirl and your spoon doesn?t even touch the liquid underneath. This way you stir the liquid without touching it with metal or glass or even disturbing it, the swirling motion makes the liquid go into a smooth vortex of spiralling spirits. Stir as lightly as possible and don?t chip or break the ice, and you have the perfect stirred cocktail to serve.

The usual bartender way to hold the spoon is to place your index finger near the top of the handle. Take a loose grip between the first and second knuckles of your middle and ring fingers. But at home, you can try any grip that serves the purpose and is light on the ice.

How long should a cocktail be stirred

One ingredient that we miss while thinking of a cocktail, is water. In cocktails water is not added as an ingredient but it is present in almost all ingredients including the liquors and the juices, but we do add extra water to cocktails indirectly.

We need to remember that a splash of water over Scotch or a single rock on a whiskey doesn?t only lower the temperature or dilutes the whisky, they work as a softener that mellows down the strength of the alcohol, only just that much that is needed to bring out the different notes, the smoky aroma or the caramel flavours that would otherwise be subdued by the strong flavour of alcohol. And that same is applicable to cocktails too, the ice is not only added to cool down a cocktail, it is supposed to add a controlled dilution to the drink too. That is why stirring too little will not bring out the desired effect, while stirring for too long will dilute the cocktail too much to water down all the intended flavours.

So now you understand why that bartended was stirring your cocktail for way too long to mix simple stuff? He was not just mixing things, the repeated vortex was causing that mild mixing that is not emulsification, and results in a better mouth feel, and at the same time, he was trying to attain a certain exact flavour by releasing the water from the ice to the exact proportion required.

So generally, a good stir might last between 15 to 45 seconds, and it?s not a simple exercise. If you are planning to stir a cocktail at home, experiment.

Bartenders Preference Shaken or Stirred

Now how about how to shake a cocktail to perfection?

The right way to shake a cocktail is with finesse and style. The right shake will emulsify the ingredients, creating a silky texture and subtle flavour that complements the taste of the drink. The wrong shake will result in a cocktail that feels cold, lacks texture, and tastes strangely artificial.
A cocktail, properly shaken, can make a world of difference in the final taste of your drink.

Old-school bartenders used what is called a ?shaker? when making drinks, which is essentially a container with a tight-fitting lid. This method is preferred by those who want the smoothest drinks possible, but modern bartenders use a blender called a ?mixer? instead. A blender is a much better option for making sure that your drink is nice and frothy.

The right way to shake a cocktail is to use ice and salt, not water. The ice crystals in a cocktail shake up the booze, creating a better drink. It also imparts greater flavour and aroma, and helps preserve the cocktail.

There are different shakers used across America and the world, you, for your home experiments, choose whichever suits you. But prefer the stainless-steel ones for longevity and also since glass and steel don't trap any flavour or interact with the ingredients.

The usual technique used by bartenders everywhere is fill the shaker with the ingredients, pour ice ( or maybe our it first ) and then secure the other end with the lid or shaker tin, and then hold each end or rather each piece of the shaker with one hand and shake it horizontally over your shoulder.

Usually, a 10 second shake is enough, shake until the outside of the steel shaker frosts up. Then strain the cocktail either over ice or in a chilled glass, depending on the drink you are making.

Either shaken or stirred, a good cocktail is one in which the flavours are neither too strong or too diluted. Your expertise in stirring and shaking will make or break that perfect cocktail you were aiming to serve your guest with. So practice a bit.


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About Us

Neel B and Mani, we are a team of two, originally from India and the United States. We are professional software engineers and passionate cocktail enthusiasts. We built this app because we saw a need for a more comprehensive and user-friendly way to find cocktails and bartending recipes. We hope you enjoy using our app as much as we enjoyed making it!

We decided to use our technology skills to help others who were in the same position as us and wanted to experiment with making cocktails at home but didn\u2019t know where to start. We have been working together for more than two years and has managed to collect an extensive library of recipes as well as tips and tricks for making the perfect cocktail.

Neel B is an Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer and martial arts and fitness enthusiast. He is an avid reader, compulsive doodler, and painter. His love for cocktails arises from the art in it and the history that traces the ups and downs of modern civilisation over centuries.

Mani is an ERP and SaaS developer and architect by day and a cocktail enthusiast in her leisure. She holds a Masters in Computer Application and Programming. In addition to writing stories on the history of cocktails and alcohol, she has a special interest in cocktails in literature. She believes that the perfect cocktail can make any moment special.

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