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Ask the Expert

Essential Guide to Mixing Cocktails [title] Shaking


Well, this sounds quite straight forward ­ but there are probably some aspects to shaking that you might not have considered. If a cocktail recipe gives instructions to shake with ice and strain, all the specified ingredients should be placed into a cocktail shaker with cubed ice and shaken well. The liquid should then be strained into the glass leaving the ice behind in the shaker.

Mixing a cocktail in this way dilutes the drink as well as chilling and blending the ingredients. It is important to remember that the subtle dilution of the recipe can be as important to the final cocktail as using the correct measures for each of the ingredients. If too little ice is used, it can melt quickly and make an over-diluted cocktail ­ so always fill your shaker at least two thirds full of fresh ice.

This sounds like it should go without saying but … be careful how you hold your cocktail shaker. If you should lose your grip of the cocktail shaker, not only would it be extremely embarrassing, it will make a mess, waste the ingredients and it could cause injury. Always use both hands to hold the shaker and never shake fizzy ingredients.

There are two types of cocktail shaker: the standard shaker and the Boston shaker.

The standard shaker is made up of 3 parts: a cone shaped can with a flat bottom, a top which has its own built in strainer and a cap or lid. This type of shaker is strongly recommended for amateur cocktail enthusiasts or bartenders starting out because it is so easy to use. We would suggest buying a larger shaker to allow for the use of plenty of ice to move around inside.

To use a 3 part shaker, all the specified ingredients should be placed in the base of the shaker with ice and then the top and cap should be added so that they are secure. With one hand on the bottom and the one on the top ­ shake briskly. The cap should always be on the top when you are shaking and should be facing away from customers. Shake for 20 seconds or so, lift off the cap, securing the top with one finger and steadily pour through the built-in strainer to avoid any spillages.

The Boston shaker ­ this consists of a 2 flat bottomed cones ­ one made of stainless steel, the other of glass. This is likely to be the type of shaker used by professional bartenders and mixologists and requires some practice to develop the necessary skill and confidence to use it. The metal section should be slightly flexible enabling it to form a watertight seal with the glass half.

To use a Boston shaker: combine the necessary ingredients with ice in the glass part of the shaker. Place the metal half over the top of the glass half and gently tap the top with the palm of your hand to form a seal. If you do this too hard, it will make the shaker difficult to open. With one hand on the top and one on the bottom, shake briskly. The glass part should always be at the top when shaking and again should be facing away from guests. After shaking for around 20 seconds, hold the metal part of the shaker and gently tap it on the side where the glass rim is. This will break the temporary watertight seal between the metal and the glass so that you can lift off the glass section. To serve the drink use a Hawthorne strainer over the metal half of the shaker and strain the liquid into the cocktail glass.

Examples of using the shaking method include the Flying Grasshopper which combines the chocolate flavours of De Kuyper Crème de Cacao White and the fresh minty colour and flavour of De Kuyper Crème de Menthe or the Mai Tai which includes the tropical taste of rum mixed with De Kuyper Dry Orange and De Kuyper Apricot Brandy.

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