If you want to make the perfect cocktail, a shaker is a big part of the process and easy to get wrong. You don’t want the contents to come out wrong when you’re trying to impress your guests so for that smooth barman confidence, it is important to do your research. Choosing a cocktail shaker is only one part of the battle but once you master all the steps, you’ll be trying to find any excuse to make one. Here we outline some of the important tips to remember before you attempt your first cocktail with a shaker, as well as some advice on the different options.
Different Types of Cocktail Shakers
The simplest of shakers, they are made of two pieces that seal together with the bottom being larger (approx 28-oz) than the top. The Boston shaker is commonly made from hard-wearing stainless steel that also helps to maintain a cool temperature once the ice starts working its magic in there. They don’t get stuck when closed and are one of the most affordable options, also popular because it is easy to use.
This three-piece construction has a built-in strainer and is easy to get to grips with. The downside is that they are more susceptible to freezing shut or leaking but can be easy for a beginner.
Requiring a separate strainer should you need to use one, a French Shaker is less common but a favorite for many because of its eye-catching design. Again, they can freeze shut from time to time and is another two-piece.
Cocktail Shaker Tips
Add Ice First
The temptation can be to add it last but avoid spilling any through splashing by adding a handful of five cubes to the large tin. This will chill the shaker for longer so the cocktail will benefit. For a single cocktail you can fill her up halfway if necessary but if you are making multiple glasses then there’s nothing wrong with taking some ice out to make room for more of the good stuff.
You might want to get as much of the ingredients in the cocktail shaker as possible, but this is detrimental to the contents. They need room to move and mix well, not to mention this approach is likely to cause spills so you will lose some of the liquid anyway. A small shaker is usually designed for a single drink, even when leaving plenty of room.
Shake For Different Amounts of Time
Not every cocktail needs to be shaken for so long, which is why it is important to pay attention to what the recipe says. Cocktails with more ingredients need more time to blend, as do egg-based cocktails.
Keep An Eye Out For Frost
This can be a good indication that your cocktail is ready as when frosting appears on the outside it means that enough time should have elapsed. You’re not going to notice this on certain materials but a stainless steel cocktail shaker should make it obvious.
Use A Tight Grip
Waste not, want not and all that but different cocktail shakers require a different grip. Any three-piece construction will be best held with a finger stretched over the lid to keep it in place but otherwise, hold on tight, especially after a couple of your mixed creations.
Shake Over The Shoulder
Ever wondered why bartenders use this approach? Well, they are considering their punters. If the cocktail spills, it might go over the backside, but it won’t spill all down a patron’s front. Not only this, but it’ll make you look like a pro when you’re doing it.
Shake Hard, Shake In One Go
You have to shake with the intent to get the ingredients to mix properly. Otherwise, you are going to have to reseal it and go again which can be messy and is just not a good look, even for a bartender in training. Use a fair amount of power to get things moving, your arms will appreciate the workout anyway.
Dry Shake Egg Cocktails
For some recipes, it can be better to shake without ice. This is the case for those that involve eggs as it will make it easier for the whites to foam which can be important for some types of cocktails.
Have Everything Ready
If you are making a cocktail in a bostin shaker but need a strainer to pour, make sure you have it to hand so you aren’t spending time trying to find it. The same goes for all the ingredients, limes, measuring glasses, etc.
Practice With Water
Because the process of straining can be challenging, practice pouring without wasting any of the important ingredients. Use water to hone your skills and practice your shaking technique so if it spills over your shoulder you’re wet, not sticky!
Don’t bite off more than you can chew by attempting a manhattan or a cocktail that requires the mixing of tens of ingredients. Keep it simple, to begin with as you build your confidence. It won’t be long before you’re getting more creative but try not to run before you can walk or things can get messy, and you could waste some of the more expensive ingredients.
Try Different Recipies
Once you have a quality cocktail shaker, try and mix things up a bit. Don’t stick the same handful of cocktails, once you’ve mastered them, learn some new ones. With hundreds of options at your disposal, there is always something new to learn and enjoy.
Benefits of Using A Cocktail Shaker
Some people think that using a spoon to mix their ingredients will suffice but it really does not have the same effect. A cocktail shaker is great for getting the ingredients to blend together properly but also chilling the drink quickly thanks to the motion and the sealed metal interior. Not only that, but the ice dilutes to take the edge off of some drinks so you don’t wince at their strength.
Also, using a cocktail shaker looks good. If you are serving a guest a drink you have mixed with a spoon, it will probably get some laughs, but when it comes to taste, they will likely notice the difference.