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what you need for shaking

how to shake

Master your bartending basics by learning how to shake a cocktail! Learning the proper technique for shaking will significantly improve your drinks. It’s easy to conquer, simply practice your shake and follow a few tips.

Why shake? Shaking a cocktail adds both aeration and dilution to the finished drink. Certain ingredients are a giveaway for whether you will be shaking or stirring, for example, cocktails with citrus are always shaken because they need the additional force to bind to the other ingredients in the drink.

Let’s do it!

  1. Add all of your ingredients to your cocktail tin, then add ice above the liquid line, about ⅔ full, leaving room for the ingredients to move while shaking.
  2. Securely place the top on the tin, giving it a little knock to lock it in place.
  3. You can hold your shaker in a variety of ways, experiment with whatever feels comfortable. Once you have a good grip, start to shake in a nice clean motion so the ice is moving from the bottom of the tin, all the way to the top of the tin.
  4. Shake for about 10-15 seconds or until the exterior of the tin is frosted over.
  5. Open your tins and straw test for proper dilution by dipping a clean straw into your freshly shaken cocktail, pressing your finger over one end until you trap a small amount of liquid in the bottom of the straw. Taste it, judge, and discard the straw. If you taste a nice balanced drink, replace cap (if using Cobbler Shaker) and strain into your cocktail glassware.

tips for shaking

  • Put some force into it! Shaking is a great workout and you want to give your cocktail nice vigorous momentum to get proper aeration. You are not just adding dilution, you also are trying to force air into the liquids to give your citrus, cream or egg cocktails (aka your go-to shaken drinks) a nice silky mouthfeel.
  • If you are using thin ice from your freezer that shatters easily, you can shorten your shaking time as the drink will be diluting faster due to more ice surface area being in contact with the ingredients in your tins. If you are using an ice mold (like a silicone 1×1 inch mold), you will have nice strong ice cubes similar to what you find in bars, and you can potentially shake for a full ten seconds. This is why straw-testing is common practice in craft cocktail bars. No, they’re not trying to steal a sip (although their drinks are tasty!), they are checking to ensure the drink is properly balanced.
  • Hold tight. The chill that is generated by shaking your drink with ice is in fact what creates the ‘seal’ on most cocktail tins. This means those first few shakes are the most likely to spill. To avoid spillage (and wasting drops of your delicious drinks!), be sure to securely replace the cap on your shaker. You can also hold both halves of the tin while you are shaking by using both hands in your shake. This is why you see bartenders knocking their tins together, especially when they’re about to get fancy and shake two tins at once, one in each hand. That’s not the time to realize your tins aren’t properly sealed and have guests getting drenched (eep!), so give the tops of your shakers a little knock to lock them in place and then heave-ho!

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