20101117

HOW TO MIX A COCKTAIL: Martinis - Shake, Stir or Roll?


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THANKSGIVING MARTINIS
START TOMORROW!


THE MANY WAYS
TO MIX A COCKTAIL 
 
DO I SHAKE, STIR, BLEND or ROLL?

Stirring, Shaking and Blending are probably techniques you are familiar with. Rolling a cocktail is a less used technique that many of you might not have tried. "Rolling" your cocktail dilutes the drink less than other methods and adds less air than shaking.
 
WHEN and HOW to "ROLL" a COCKTAIL:

Rolling is a good technique for cocktails with few ingredients and cocktails served on the rocks (over ice).
To roll your drink you'll need two glasses or one glass and a cocktail shaker
  • Fill one glass to the top with ice then add your cocktail ingredients.
  • Pour the contents from this glass into another glass or cocktail shaker (no ice needed in second container).
  • Return your cocktail ingredients to the original glass.
WHEN TO SHAKE

It's best to shake a cocktail when there are fruit juices involved or when you're using a cream or egg element.  Shaking infuses air into your cocktail which cuts the sometimes cloying sweetness of fruits. The aggressiveness of shaking helps to blend thicker elements, like creams and eggs, into the cocktail for a smoother drinking experience.

WHEN TO STIR

When you are mixing a cocktail made only with spirits, stirring is the preferred method.  Stirring does not add air to your mix like shaking and your drink will stay clear as opposed to the cloudy effect of shaking.  This is why a classic martini of gin and vermouth should be stirred, not shaken.
 
WHEN TO BLEND
 
I believe blending should only be used for "frozen" cocktails (like a margarita or a daiquiri) or cocktails that are difficult to mix any other way.  I use this method for my "Martini Smoothies" to fully incorporate the fruit solids into the drink.  Blending can dilute a cocktail up to 40%, depending on whether you use ice and how much ice is used so you only want to blend when you have ingredients like pieces of fruit, vegetables or other solid ingredients or your ingredients are powerful enough to stand up to the dilution level. Start with less ice - you can always add more but you can't take it out!

When blending a cocktail I will start with my solids (like the fruit pieces) and at least an ounce of juice or liquor and pulse this until pureed.  Then I add my crushed ice and my other ingredients and pulse until I no longer hear chunks of ice against the blades.

WHICH METHOD DILUTES THE DRINK MORE?

This all depends on how long you shake, stir, blend or roll!  A blender, as mentioned above, dilutes the most of all methods and the more ice you use the more diluted your cocktail becomes.  As for the other mixing techniques, the longer the ice is in contact with the drink contents the more water is added.  Shaking tends to chill the drink faster, all things being even.

WHAT'S THE RIGHT WAY TO SHAKE A COCKTAIL?

With all the flair bartending going on these days you might think that shaking requires a six week course at an extreme bartending school.  Flair or extreme bartending is fun and a great way to entertain bar patrons but you don't need to be Tom Cruise's character, Brain Flanagan, in "Cocktail" to properly shake a drink. 

The best method for shaking is to place the shaker in front of you in as upright a position as comfortable for you and shake up and down as rapidly as possible.  The harder and more vigorously you shake, the colder and more mixed your cocktail becomes with less dilution from the ice.  The exception to this is when you are shaking a cocktail with an egg, then you start with a slow shake, gradually speeding up to a vigorous shake - this keeps the foaming down so you don't end up with a cocktail glass full of fluff!

GET YOUR INGREDIENTS IN PLACE

If you want to mix a great cocktail, get your ingredients ready before you start to shake, stir or roll.  Good chefs and bartenders always prepare their "mise en place" before starting to cook.

If your ice is melting in your shaker while you muddle, strain, juice or chop you're going to end up with a watered down cocktail.

WHAT GOES IN FIRST?

The typical order for mixing cocktails is ice, then your base alcohol, then your secondary alcohols, then your mixers or juices.  Layered cocktails are poured by weight with the heaviest element being poured first and the lightest one last so each layer will float on the heavier layer below. 
 
You now have the basic cocktail mixing techniques - ready, set and Shake, Stir, Rattle & Roll!

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