essential guide to shaking
Mastering your shaking technique can be a great way to inject a bit of theater into your cocktail making. It’s a guaranteed way to wow your customers and enhance your serves. We caught up with some of the biggest names in the bar industry who shared their top tips to get you shaking up a storm in no time.
The Standard Shake
Explained by Lynette Marrero
Shaking cocktails is the most efficient way to simultaneously chill and dilute a cocktail. The standard shaking technique is most often used for drinks where juices, cream, fruits, syrups or other heavy ingredients need to be bonded to the spirit.
There is such a thing as over-shaking a drink, so be careful! This is especially true with regular bar ice. When using large cubed ice or block ice, which is more popular in cocktail bars, you can eventually feel the point at which you’ve broken the ice down and are ready to strain. This is seldom over 15 seconds.
Ready to perfect your standard shake? Watch the step-by-step video below:
The Double Shake
Explained by Charles Ainsbury
The double shake is a simple technique to save time, shaking and straining two cocktails at once with a shaker in each hand.
It may seem simple enough, but to master it, you must remember that not all shaken cocktails work in the same way!
For example, a Daiquiri needs plenty of ice and a hefty dose of elbow grease, as it's best served bracingly cold. Whereas a Tom Collins needs a few solid flicks of the wrist, just to combine and chill before being diluted with soda water, so there’s no need for an overly long or vigorous shake. Most bartenders will opt to put anything needing a longer or harder shake in their dominant hand, keeping their non-dominant hand for anything served on the rocks. A good bartender will factor in all this information when experimenting with different combinations.
Practice makes perfect, so next time you're making a round of drinks, take into consideration every cocktail you’ll be serving. Remember that once you add ice, the timer is on!
The Dry Shake and the Reverse Dry Shake
Explained by James Fowler
A dry shake refers to shaking ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice. Any recipe that involves egg whites starts with a vigorous dry shake for at least 30 seconds. This ensures that the egg white combines with the other ingredients, resulting in a nice, frothy texture.
After dry shaking, ice is added, and the mixture is shaken for a second time before being strained and served.
The reverse dry shake is the same technique, but in reverse. All ingredients except the egg white are added to a shaker with ice, then strained to remove the ice. The egg white is added before the second shake, resulting in a more consistent, foamy texture. Classic cocktails such as the Whiskey Sour and the Ramos Gin Fizz are both made using this technique.
It’s best to fine strain the liquid to remove any ice shards before the second dry shake.
The Hard Shake
Explained by Ryu Fujii
The hard shake method was invented by legendary bartender Kazuo Ueda and it’s been claimed that he is the only one to ever truly master the technique! Somewhat paradoxically, the hard shake is, in fact, quite gentle—intended to force the ice around the cocktail shaker rather than back and forth from end to end, allowing for greater control of aeration and dilution. However, there’s debate as to whether the hard shake actually makes any difference to the resulting cocktail.
The size of shaker is important in this technique and a 3-piece shaker is preferable. Increasing the amount of air helps to take the edge off the alcohol, giving the end result a smoother finish.
White Spirits vs. Brown Spirits
Not all spirits were created equal, and there are several things to consider when hard shaking white spirits versus brown spirits. With both, it’s important to accurately control the snap of the wrist to incorporate as much air as possible and to achieve the right balance between the size of the shaker, the quantity of liquid and the amount of ice.
Generally speaking, a very strong shaking style achieves the best result with white spirits. The idea is to add as much air into the cocktail as possible to take the edge off the acidity and give the cocktail more volume.
For the shake, it is important not to smash the ice against the bottom of the shaker. Instead, use a snap of your wrist and arm stroke to let the ice scrape against the sides of the shaker.
With brown spirits, keep snapping your wrist, but place the shaker at a wider angle to incorporate more air and minimize the amount of ice scraping against the sides of the shaker. Double strain any remaining ice chips, as over-chilling brown spirit-based cocktails can lead to a harsh, acidic taste and prevent the natural cask aromas from coming through.
Practice makes perfect
It is time to put these shaking techniques into practice with some serves from the experts.
ANTIGUA SPRING FLING
- 1.5 oz. RON ZACAPA 23 Rum
- .5 oz. chamomile syrup*
- .75 oz. lemon juice
- .25 oz. Elderflower Liqueur
- Fresh chamomile flowers
Combine ZACAPA Rum, chamomile syrup, Elderflower Liqueur and lemon juice in a shaker.
Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with flowers.
Makes one drink.
*For Chamomile Syrup: In a medium saucepan, add sugar and water and cook over medium heat until sugar completely dissolves. Add chamomile, remove from heat and let steep while the syrup cools to room temperature (about 15 minutes). Strain through a fine mesh strainer and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Shake with large ice chunks halting when you reach the desired chill.
Check for the correct solution, strain into a frozen Martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
- .75 oz. TANQUERAY London Dry Gin
- .75 oz. Chartreuse Green
- .5 oz. lemon juice
- .5 oz. egg white
- 2 dashes dandelion and burdock bitters
Reverse dry shake ingredients, garnish with mint leaf and pour into a coupe glass.
TEA MASTER AVIATION
- 1.75 oz. TANQUERAY London Dry Gin
- .25 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
- .25 oz. Green Tea Cordial*
- .25 oz. yuzu juice
- .25 oz. lime juice
* 1 part granulated sugar to 1 part strongly steeped green tea
Add all ingredients to a 3-piece shaker.
Fill the shaker 70% of the way with ice. Shake firmly and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with Absinthe spray.
(*One standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol)