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By Harriet Leigh, Head of Hospitality ISSUE #012 THE CHRISTMAS ISSUE | Education

When to shake and when to stir cocktails

We all know equipment used in the preparation of cocktails is the stuff of magic. A regular Joe steps behind a bar, nothing unusual there, then they pick up a cocktail shaker. Suddenly they are 30 per cent more attractive and 90 per cent more useful at a party. What is this voodoo? It's quite simple. It's the cocktail effect. Everything and everyone is better at cocktail hour. However, there are some rules to using that shaker. Here's how you too can make yourself indispensable at a party.


There is one simple hard and fast rule for when to reach for a shaker or a mixing glass. If there is only alcohol in the recipe (eg a Martini or a Rye Malt Boulevardier*) you reach for the mixing glass and bar spoon. The idea here is to instil dilution and chill in the drink, with a minimum of air. You're striving for a viscous, weighty mouthfeel, not froth.

The technique of stirring a cocktail takes a little getting used to. You might well think "hang on, I've been stirring things, with mixed success, for 30 years, don't get smart with me". But this stirring is a different kind of stirring. You want to run the convex side of the spoon around the inside of the mixing glass, using your index and middle finger to push the spoon towards you and your ring and little finger to push the spoon away from you. I bet you a shiny green apple the first time you try it you don't quite have the flair you expect. But give it a few twirls and you'll be channeling the cocktail gods.

*the drink of 2019.

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On the other hand, if you're using ingredients that include citrus or egg you've got to put your back into it to mix all that goodness up. In this case you're after a shaker. The Archie Rose engraved Parisian shaker is sleek in design and in application. The curvaceous model is designed to seal tightly so you don't need to give it a whack to seal it. It'll do that all on its own accord. The idea behind shaking is to wake the drink up, not rock it to sleep. So shake it like your life depends on it. Really put your back into it. Once you’ve done that, give the smaller half of the shaker a twist to ease it open and strain the contents into a chilled glass. Marvel how much like Tom Cruise (before he was a Scientologist) you are.

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