Shaking

There are three techniques for making a cocktail: building, shaking, and stirring. It’s important to know when to use which method.

To Shake a cocktail, measure the ingredients and add them to a cocktail shaker, along with plenty of ice. If the drink is to be served on the rocks, add fresh ice to the glass. Put the top on the shaker, then holding it with both hands, shake it above your shoulder. Shake for 10–15 seconds, or until the shaker frosts up thoroughly. Then strain the drink into the glass.

Shaken drinks are typically those that contain anything other than pure alcohol. If a recipe calls for any juice (such as lemon or lime), cream, or egg white, it should be shaken.

Some shaken drinks, such as a Vigo, call for sparkling wine. When this is the case, add all the liquids except the sparkling wine to the shaker. Shake as normal and strain into the glass. Then top with the sparkling wine and add any garnish.

The Purpose of Shaking

Shaking a cocktail does two things: it melts ice into the drink and it adds texture. Melting ice simultaneously chills the drink and adds water to it. Shaking is the fastest way to do that. Shaking a cocktail will typically add around 1 oz of water, give or take.

The texture is also important. Shaking froths up the drink with small air bubbles. This makes it feel slightly thicker on the tongue. After shaking the drink, these bubbles will start to break up, so serve the drink immediately. Ingredients that contain protein (such as egg white or honey) will strengthen these bubbles, making the drink frothier and longer-lasting in the glass.

Dry Shaking

Dry shaking is a method to add extra froth to the top of the drink. Most drinks containing egg benefit from dry shaking. (It also helps break up the egg and incorporate it into the drink better.)

To dry shake, first add the ingredients to the shaker without any ice. Hold the shaker closed tightly and shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds, but preferably as long as 20 or 30 seconds. The longer you shake, the more froth will build up. Then, open up the shaker and add the ice. Close it up and give it another good shake for around ten seconds. Then strain into the serving glass.

Be careful when dry shaking. Normal shaking with ice chills the drink, making it contract, which creates a suction and holds your shaker closed. Without the ice, there is no suction, so the shaker is much more prone to come open while shaking. I have made a lot of messes dry shaking.

Reverse Dry Shaking

Reverse dry shaking is a method to increase the amount of froth on top of the drink even more. First shake with ice, then strain out the ice and shake the drink again without ice.

In theory, this will produce more froth after ice has been diluted in the drink, so the ice doesn’t start to break some of the froth up. In my experience, I have a hard time telling whether this works better than a normal dry shake. It’s a bit of a hassle to strain out the ice between shakes, but it does seem to maintain suction in the shaker during the no-ice shake, meaning fewer spills.

Drinks tagged shaken