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How to Shake a Cocktail

The process of actually shaking a cocktail is straightforward. It should take just a minute or two from when you begin pouring the ingredients to the time you strain the drink. In most cases, you will follow these six steps to shake a cocktail:

  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker tin.

  2. Fill the shaker with ice (some bartenders do this before pouring).

  3. Secure the lid or shaker tin.

  4. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on each piece) and shake vigorously in a horizontal motion over your shoulder.

  5. Shake for a slow count of ten or until the outside of the shaker frosts up.

  6. Strain your cocktail into a chilled glass. Remember to strain over fresh ice when preparing drinks served on the rocks.

Helpful Shaking Tips

While the basic shaking technique is straightforward, there are simple things you can do to make sure everything goes smoothly and that you get consistent, well-mixed drinks.

  • Don't overfill the shaker. Give the ingredients plenty of room to move around (it also helps to prevent spills). The average-sized shaker can handle two or three drinks at once, depending on the volume. If you're using a small shaker, mix one drink at a time.

  • Shake to a rhythm. Hum a tune, shake to a beat, and get into the movement. Many bartenders enjoy a good Caribbean drum beat or will shake to the music in the bar. Have fun with it.

  • Shake it like you mean it. Shaking a cocktail is not meant to be gentle. Give the movement some force and power and enjoy the exercise.

  • Have a firm grip. No matter the style, hold both pieces of the shaker firmly to ensure they stay together while you're shaking. When using a cobbler shaker, place a finger on top of the lid to hold that in place as well. A cocktail on the floor is a sad thing, so keep your shaker in one piece.

  • Shake over your shoulder. Just in case the shaker does come apart, shake over one of your shoulders (whichever is natural), pointing the lid (or smaller piece of a Boston shaker) to the back. Your backside may get wet, but your guests will not. This also helps add force to the shake because you'll naturally want to hold it horizontally (a vertical shake is less effective and a bit awkward).

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