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Ask the Expert

Essential Guide to Mixing Cocktails [title] Stirring


If the cocktail recipe method states that you should stir the ingredients with ice and strain ­ this refers to stirring with a bar spoon (a long spoon with a twisted stem) in the bottom half of a Boston shaker (or a mixing glass). The ice and the ingredients should be placed in the glass part of the shaker. Use the spoon to gently stir the ingredients together and then use a Hawthorne strainer to strain.

Shaken or stirred … that is the question!!

So what’s the difference between shaking and stirring cocktails? The difference between the two techniques is most noticeable in the final look of the cocktail and how it feels when it touches the taste buds on your tongue according to Dale DeGroff ­ known as “King Cocktail” and is a world authority on cocktail making and the history of cocktails.

Dale DeGroff recommends that drinks containing only spirits/liqueurs should be stirred whilst cocktails that also contain citrus/fruit juices should be shaken. Shaking adds thousands of tiny air bubbles to the cocktail which is great for drinks like a Margarita where we would recommend using De Kuyper Triple Sec for perfect tangy orange flavour. On the other hand, Dale believes Martini cocktails are better suited to stirring as they have a more chilled, heavy feel.

However the great Martini debate of shaken or stirred can go on forever ­ there is no right way. If in doubt, you should always ask the client if they have a personal preference ­ in the same way a waiter in a restaurant would ask how you would like your steak to be cooked.

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