Sometimes people will ask me why I am stirring this drink or shaking another. There’s a simple rule of thumb to it all. If it’s a cocktail such as a Manhattan or Martini or in other words nothing but sprits/liquor, you should stir it. The purpose of the addition of ice to a cocktail is to dilute the drink to make it easier to consume. If you stir a Martini, for instance, you’ll still get the true flavor of the gin or vodka in the drink. Since it’s stirred, however, the dilution is over the moment it’s left the mixing glass, and you’re left with an almost silky texture to the drink. Now, if you shake your Martini you’ll not only have ice chips in the drink which will continue to dilute both the drink and flavor, but you’ll also have air bubbles in the cocktail that take away from the texture and flavor as a result.
So, when should you shake and why? When your cocktail has a spirit and a mixer such as a citrus juice of some sort, shake it. Sure, it’s going to give your drink a “cloudy” look to it, but that will settle down in no time. Also, the acidity of the citrus will have already taken away from any silky texture of the drink. Shake away! The extra dilution from the shaking will take that acidity. An example? Let’s talk about the gimlet; gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Sure it’s a basic recipe, but it’s so delicious. This drink should be shaken. You should shake it until you see condensation on the shaker. After that, strain the drink through out of the shaker through a tea strainer before it reaches your favorite martini glass. This captures any chipped ice preventing any further dilution of the drink.
There you have it; two examples of when to shake and when to stir. While some of us bartenders are eccentric, there is a reason to our madness sometimes. Try a shaken and stirred martini next to each other at home and see which you like better. All science and reasons aside, it’s all about which one you think tastes better.
Bar Manager & Mixologist