How to Stir a Cocktail

How to Stir a Cocktail

what you need for stirring

  • Mixing Beaker
  • Bar Spoon
  • Julep Strainer
  • Ice
  • Straw
  • Recipe and Cocktail Ingredients

how to stir

Master your bartending basics by learning how to stir a cocktail! Learning the proper technique for stirring will significantly improve your drinks. It's easy to conquer, simply practice your stir and follow a few tips. Why stir? Stirring helps you achieve proper dilution and chill your drink to the correct temperature. Certain ingredients are a giveaway for whether you will be shaking or stirring, for example, cocktails with just spirits, liqueurs, bitters, and syrups are always stirred. Or if it's easier to remember, clear drinks are stirred, opaque drinks (like citrus, cream, and egg cocktails) are shaken! Let's do it!

  1. Add all ingredients to mixing beaker, fill with ice above the liquid line (about ⅔ full).
  2. Hold the bar spoon comfortably, between your fingers (pointer and middle above, ring and pinky below) near the equilibrium point, close to the middle of the spoon.
  3. Insert the back of your bar spoon along the mixing beaker, you’ll want to stir so the backside of the bar spoon is always in contact with the outer edge of the mixing beaker.
  4. To stir, you are essentially pulling with your first two fingers and pushing away with your bottom two fingers, so pull, push, creating a turn of the wrist. This is an easy way to isolate and practice that wrist-turning motion for the ideal stir. Pushing away and pulling towards should feel very natural. As you practice this motion, you will become more proficient and gain speed. Soon, you will be stirring effortlessly with just your wrist, keeping your arm and fingers steady, and it will feel like the spoon is rotating about on its own axis.
  5. It only takes 10-20 seconds to properly stir a cocktail, usually about the amount of time it takes for the exterior of the glass to frost over, but it is always a good idea to taste your mix to determine if your drink is “ready.”

tips for stirring

  • Practice, practice, practice! If you can't get a hang of the effortless twirls that dazzle many a bar patron, simply stirring the drink near the perimeter of the mixing beaker in a smooth clockwise motion will achieve a similar effect. Try to avoid choppy, rough stirring, as you want your drink gently diluted (no added air) so it retains its crystal clear quality when poured into your serving glassware.
  • If you are using thin ice from your freezer, you can shorten your stirring time as the drink will be diluting faster. If you are using an ice mold (like a silicone 1x1 inch mold), you will have nice strong ice cubes similar to what you find in bars, and you can potentially stir for twenty 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.
  • If your mixing beaker isn't a fancy diamond cut glass beaker with a heavy base, but say, a simple pint glass- that's totally okay! You just may want to use your non-dominant hand to stabilize your glass, while you stir with the other to keep it from sliding around. Just be aware that the heat from your hands may speed up dilution of your ice and you might be ready to drink in less time than you think!
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