On the subject of shaking versus stirring a cocktail, the standard line is this: drinks involving fruit juices, eggs or syrups must be shaken; those containing liquor and vermouth should only ever be stirred.
However, in the mixing of drinks, as in any of life’s pursuits, there are those who would flaunt the rules. But before we delve into this controversy, let’s take a minute to examine the role either stirring or shaking plays in the making of a cocktail.
There are, of course, two main and obvious purposes: mixing and chilling. You would not have much of a mixed drink if you simply allowed its constituent elements to sit in the glass layered like the pages of an abandoned manuscript. Like wind through a study window, the action of shaker or bar spoon invigorates the liquors, swirls them to life.
Also, a cocktail — and this cannot be stressed enough — must be glacially cold and to achieve this it must inevitably come in contact with ice.
Now, there are those who would dispute the necessity of ice, saying it’s unmanly to risk weakening one’s spirits by mingling them with melt water. I’ve acquaintances who will keep their liquors in a deep freeze then blend these sub-zero liquids into truly potent concoctions and admittedly, handing out raw slugs of frigid booze to your guests can liven a room up quite quickly. Too often, though, with so much raw spirit on the loose, an evening’s frolics will come to an early — possibly tear-stained — end.
Thing is, dilution is essential to a cocktail as it smooths out the flavours and reduces the potency just enough so that a number of drinks may be enjoyed before inebriation works its mischeif on the senses.
In fact, Thomas Mario (who, you will find, I refer to often) advises that two to two-and-a-half ounces of liquor poured into a shaker should grow to four ounces when poured into a glass.
That seems like rather a lot of water — a touch too much for my taste — but let’s allow it to flow under the bridge and tackle now the question of stirring over shaking.
Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: Shaken Or Stirred?”