How To Shake a Cocktail

Shaking a cocktail is like dancing; everyone has their own style, rhythm (or lack thereof) and one signature move. There’s the pelvic thrust-y over the shoulder shake, the “Oh”-faced, hunched over power shake, the Japanese 5-point palm, exploding hard shake and so many more. Whatever your style, though, every good shake should result in the same thing: a perfectly diluted, emulsified, frothy cocktail.

To truly master the art of the shake, you first need to know when to shake. If a drink calls for citrus juice or other fruit juice like a Daiquiri, you shake it to aerate the drink, which creates a frothy body and lightens up the sometimes harsh or strong fruit flavors. Drinks with dairy and/or eggs like a Ramos Gin Fizz need to be shaken in order to completely emulsify the ingredients and create a creamy, foamy head.

The next thing that you need is the right setup. Our recommendation: Go with a set of weighted shaker tins (one small, one large). Why not use a tin and a glass? Besides being heavy, glass is a poor conductor of energy and can’t cool down as quickly as stainless, which means a warmer, improperly diluted cocktail. Plus, unlike glass, shaker tins can survive being dropped accidentally, thrown against a wall or at people (the people don’t fare so well, on the other hand).


Two-Piece Cocktail Tin

Step One

Stagger your tins on your bar (or kitchen table or desk or ping pong table), the smaller tin in front of the larger one. Build your cocktail into the smaller of the two tins and fill the larger tin with ice (always cubed, never crushed!). That way, there is less room for the ice to bounce around when you fit the two tins together. The more the ice crashes around the tin, the more it will break up and over-dilute the cocktail.

Step Two

At a slight angle, pour the liquid from the smaller tin into the large tin with ice at a slight angle and use your palm to softly pound the small tin inside of the lip of the large one. This should create a seal that prevents liquid from leaking and the tins from separating mid-shake. If the shaker is sealed tight, you should be able to lift it up holding only the top tin.

Step Three

With your two tins locked together, you are ready to SHAKE! Hold the shaker with one hand on the bottom of the tins and one on top. Shake the cocktail vigorously for a minimum of twelve seconds.

Step Four

Once the tins are cold to the touch and have obvious icy condensation, the cocktail is ready to be strained. Break the seal between the tins by hitting just below the point where the two tins meet with the palm of your hand. It will make a popping sound and the smaller tin will be easy to remove. Your drink is ready to strain and pour. When using stainless tins, always use a Hawthorne strainer.