The hard shake is difficult to master, beautiful to watch, and very Japanese. It takes patience, persistence and years of practice to develop your own version of the technique. Its only true practitioner is master bartender and author of Cocktail Techniques Kazuo Uyeda, who also happens to have invented it. Uyeda says unlike Westerners, who “focus on results” rather than the artistry of craftsmanship, Japanese bartenders “look closely at the way a cocktail is made and the effort that went into achieving a good taste.” The hard shake certainly requires effort, but it also produces results. A well executed hard shake controls dilution and increases aeration.
We, like you, are only just starting to learn how to hard shake. So, for our tutorial, we tapped an expert. Eben Freeman, beverage master of AvroKO Hospitality Group and head bartender at Genuine Liquorette in New York, is one of the few Westerners to perfect a version of the hard shake. He was trained in the technique by Uyeda’s apprentice, Stanislav Vadrna.
But before we dive into the step-by-step instructions, it’s time to get warmed up. Freeman recommends practicing these exercises prior to attempting the hard shake:
Work on your stance. When you perform the hard shake you will be in a boxer’s stance. In this stance you should have balance and mobility and be able to transfer weight from one foot to the other as you shake. Take a few moments to plant your feet and get comfortable in your stance.