Layering a cocktail is a technique to create separate layers of separate liquids in a glass. It can be used to great effect in cocktails to create vibrant layers of different colours.

Different bar tenders have different techniques, but as a general rule of thumb follow these easy steps:

  • Always start with the heaviest liquid first.
  • Place a barspoon or teaspoon upside down into the glass you are using, so that the rim of the spoon touches the edge of the glass.
  • Slowly pour the next heaviest liquid onto the back of the spoon so that it floats ontop of the other liquid.
  • If you are using a barspoon at this point pour the liquid down the twisted part of the handle.
  • Always pour nice and slowly or the weight of the liquid will just go through the other layer.
  • Repeat for the next liquid until you have finished all the liquids.


Muddling is the art of releasing the flavours from fruit segments while mixing them with ingredients. Muddling is usually done with a specialised 'cocktail muddler', but if one of these isn't available then a pestle or even the end of a rolling pin will work.

The trick to a good muddle is to have the right size fruit segments (dependant on cocktail) and to twist at the same time as pushing down. A cocktail muddler often has a rough end to get the most of the juice from the fruit.


Shaking a cocktail - the classic stereotypical shot of a cocktail being made, and for good reason. A lot of cocktails are mixed together by shaking them in a cocktail shaker, as it not only combines the liquids together, but also bashes ice around to release small ice particles into the drink, cooling down the liquids quickly and efficiently.

Some simple tips to shaking a cocktail:

  • Don't overfill the shaker so the liquids and ice have plenty of room to mix properly.
  • For a single serving, 5-6 ice cubes should be enough. Don't use 1 large block of ice as you won't get the desired results.
  • Shake vigorously; you are trying to break off small particles from the ice as well as mixing the ingredients together.
  • A general rule of thumb for when to stop shaking is that the outside of the cocktail shaker will frost over and become very cold.
  • After you've shaken a lot of cocktails you'll get a feel for how long they need to be shaken for.


Stirring over shaking can be done for a variety of reasons. The first rule of thumb is that you can't shake fizzy mixers such as coke or lemonade. Don't forget this one or you'll end up with a messy shirt.

Stirring cocktails gently combines the ingredients rather than bashing them together, and you should produce or more translucent cocktail rather than a cloudy one.

Gin and Whisky cocktails are often stirred rather than shaken as shaking is said to bruise the spirit. This is a hot topic and we won't go into that here.

To stir a cocktail follow these basic steps:

  • Hold the spoon between the thumb and the top two fingers.
  • Gently rotate the wrist to stir the drinks, and don't make a harsh up and down movement with the spoon.
  • Let the spoon and the ice do the work, don't force the ingredients round the glass; it should be fairly effortless.