Find out why and what cocktails to shake. Learn how to shake a cocktail, separate a cocktail shaker and serve impressive drinks. If you follow a few simple tips then you’ll find it relatively easy to shake and strain your drink.
How to shake a cocktail
- Measure your ingredients into your preferred cocktail shaker
- Add a generous amount of ice
- Add the top part of the shaker
(the cold temperature will cause the stainless steel to form a tight seal)
- Shake thoroughly for 12 seconds
(research shows that this is the optimal time to reach thermal equilibrium which means that continuing to shake longer than this time frame will make very little difference to the temperature and dilution of your drink)
- Strain into a cocktail glass and add garnish
(use a hawthorn strainer if you shake with a Boston or Parisian shaker)
How to separate a Boston shaker
Now there’s a bit of knack to separating a Boston shaker. If you follow a few simple tips then you’ll find it relatively easy to separate.
- Firstly, when joining the two parts of the shaker, give it a firm tap but don’t over do it. There is no need to force the two components together. When the ice is added it will chill the stainless steel tin(s), contract and form a nice tight seal.
- If you are a beginner, make sure to shake whilst holding both parts of the shaker to ensure that you have control of both parts.
- To separate the two parts, hold with one hand and use the other to firmly tap the sweet spot.
- To locate the sweet spot, start by finding the point at where the tin and glass meet (shown in the picture with the red arrows) and follow the tin 1/4 of the way round (shown in the picture with orange markings).
- A firm tap with your hand should be enough to detach the two parts – avoid using your elbow or the bar top, it looks pretty average to customers.
With a little practice it will separate with ease.
Tin on tin shakers can be a little harder to separate than glass and tin – but again, with a bit practice you should be able to separate them on the first attempt.
Why shake a cocktail?
There are three main reasons…
Shaking introduces tiny air bubbles into the mixture, creating texture in a drink. When shaking drinks that contain fruit juice such as pineapple, lemon or lime, it gives a slightly frothy appearance. Shaking a cocktail containing egg white creates a foamy, meringue-like head with a textured mouthfeel.
Dilution plays a very important role in making a good drink. With the right amount of dilution the flavours of your cocktail can be fully experienced when consumed.
Not enough dilution and your drink will be too boozy or potent, too much dilution and your drink becomes weak and watery. Correct dilution enhances your cocktail.
Dilution is key.
Cocktail shaking is an aggressive activity which rapidly chills and dilutes a drink. It reaches ideal temperature and dilution in approximately 12-15 seconds of shaking. At this point it reaches thermal equilibrium which means the drink won’t get any colder or dilute further.
It’s clear that a chilled shaken cocktail tastes better than a warm one but it’s the overall effect that is often overlooked when making drinks.
Temperature plays a very important role in creating a great drink as it is the major influencing factor for dilution. The temperature of the drink effects the level of dilution – the colder a drink is, the less the drink dilutes.