When To Shake, When to Stir, or Not

One of the conundrums of amateur mixology is knowing when a mixed drink needs to be shaken, and which drinks should be stirred.

Surprisingly, the answer is actually quite simple: One must shake drinks that contain juice, cream, eggs, or any other cloudy ingredient.
Stir drinks that are comprised of spirits and nothing else (except ice and the sine quo non of what makes a drink not merely a mixed drink but rather a true cocktail, bitters).

When preparing to shake a cocktail, always use ice cubes. Crushed ice can both clog the strainer and slip through the holes in the strainer into the drink. Nevertheless, a shaken drink will often include small pieces of ice, as well as the air bubbles that shaking adds to the mixture. Shaking not only properly combines the ingredients, but instantly chills the drink. You will know when this has been accomplished by the condensation that forms on the shaker tin.

When straining a shaken drink with a Boston shaker, one should use both a Hawthorne strainer that fits into the shaker tin, and for best results, a second, longer-handled strainer so that fruit pieces, seeds, and the like, are less likely to fall through into the glass.
When using a standard or "Cobbler" shaker, use both the build-in strainer and again the second strainer, to double guard against ice pieces and foreign matter entering the glass.

There are some drinks that specifically call for crushed ice rather than cubes. Such drinks should be served unstrained, with all the ice and
other elements going into the serving glass.

When stirring a drink, again condensation on the glass is a tip-off that stirring is complete. A single strainer is all that is generally necessary, as no vegetation is involved. The julep strainer is best for this task.

There are drinks, however, that are made by "building" or "layering" ingredients. These drinks are never shaken or stirred. Rather, "build" a drink by pouring one ingredient after another directly into the serving glass. Add a swizzle stick so the consumer of the drink may stir if desired. "Layer" or "float" ingredients directly into the serving glass one on top of
another by pouring onto the back of a spoon so that the liquid runs down the inside sides of the glass.


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