To Shake or To Stir? What's the Difference?

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The art of cocktail making is far more complicated than experienced bartenders would have you believe. It's not just about memorizing the ingredients. You need to know exactly how to combine those liquids to create magic in a glass. And even the wrong glass can make or break a drink!

One thing that can completely change the composition of your beverage is whether you
shake, stir, or simply layer your ingredients. But why does it make such a
difference?

In any cocktail book you pick up, the instructions are pretty clear. It will tell you how to
mix your drink. These instructions aren’t just plucked out of thin air – they
are carefully crafted to get the best flavour, Not got a recipe book to hand?
Read on!

When to Shake

Adding some dairy to your cocktail? You’ll most likely need to shake that drink for best
dispersion. The same is true for eggs and fruit juice. Shaking a drink adds a
lot of air into the mixture, creating a frothy layer on top. If you stirred
these drinks instead, the individual ingredients would separate by the time you
got round to drinking them. Shaking makes sure they are properly combined.

Another benefit of shaking is that it is almost always done with ice. This helps to
cool a drink much faster than simply placing ice cubes inside of it.

When to Stir

Stirring is best when a drink contains alcoholic ingredients only. Shaking these kinds of
drinks would make them appear foggy, and a clear spirit is always preferred.

What About Martinis?

Was James Bond so wrong when he asked to have his Martini shaken and not stirred? Easily one of his most famous lines, his request horrified mixologists all around the
world!

Pardon the interruption

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A Martini is made up of Vermouth, gin, and bitters. Since bitters are not fizzy, fruity, or dairy, they are better stirred in with alcohol usually. When you shake these ingredients with ice, you water down the potency of the drink and make it much colder than it should be.

James Bond is a spy who is never not working, so perhaps drinking his Martinis in this way
helps to keep him from getting too drunk.

When to
Leave Alone

There are some cases when you shouldn’t shake or stir a cocktail. Usually, this is when the drink contains carbonated ingredients such as cola or lemonade. Shaking these drinks would make them lose their fizz. And long drinks that are bigger than usual can be left to mix in their own time too.

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Bartender's top tip

The key to a great cocktail is balance. Ensure that the sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and alcohol are in harmony. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and don't be shy about adjusting the proportions to suit your taste. For instance, if you find a drink too sour, add a bit more sweetener, or if it's too sweet, balance it with a bit of citrus or bitters.

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