Shaking cocktails

Why Shake a cocktail?

Chills ingredients – Shaking happens with ice which makes the ingredients cold. So, shaken recipes, like stirred recipes, can be served up or on the rocks (with or without ice).

Combines ingredients – Forcefully combines ingredients together changing the texture of the ingredients.

Aerates ingredients – The process of chasing with ice forces air into the liquid ingredients.

Adds water – Through ice-melt during shaking.


Fill your shaker or whatever you are using as a shaker (swing-top jar, plastic tub, etc) with all the ingredients that the recipe says need to be shaken together…but please, and this may seem obvious (but we HAVE seen it happen), make sure you DON’T add any carbonated ingredients to the shaker! It won’t end well…

If you are using an actual shaker, then fill, and as always we do mean FILL your shaker with ice. If you‘re using some sort of jar, you will need to leave enough space for the ice to move with the ingredients as you shake. 

Pouring cocktail from jar

FYI – The reason for using so much ice is to increase the speed at which the drink is chilled, and slow the rate of ice-melt to a speed that is easily manageable. Too little ice will melt before the drink gets cold enough, giving you a warm and watery drink! So please, for drink’s sake, use loads of ice.

The process of shaking is fairly simple really, even though you might see some complicated techniques when you visit fancy bars. All that really matters is that the ingredients and ice are flung violently from one end of the shaker to the other, folding everything together each time it hits the end of the shaker. This is forcing air into the mix, combining ingredients, chilling them and adding the all important water.

A few key things to keep in mind when shaking Cocktails:

  • Shake hard – probably harder than you think. It should be a proper work-out.

  • Shake big – remember the ingredients need to be thrown from one end of the shaker to the other. So go big with a piston-like movement, not a small movement like you just shoved your fingers into a power socket!

  • Shake for about 15 seconds – this time will depend on what ice you are using and other mitigating factors such as alcohol strength, number of ingredients, etc. For a list of reasons that will impact how long you shake for, see Stirring Cocktails.

When you’ve finished shaking, remove the top of your shaker, the lid of your jar, or whatever you have MacGyvered into a cocktail shaking device. Then put in place your chosen strainer to hold the ice back, now you can pour the contents of the shaker into your glass. 

Espresso martini being poured

If you need to remove smaller fragments of fruit or ice, you may want to double strain your cocktail. To do so, you will need a tea strainer (fine strainer) as well as your “regular“ strainer. Hold the fine strainer above the glass you want to strain the drink into whilst holding the ice back in your shaker with the “regular” strainer, hence double strained. This will give your drink a perfect, consistent texture. No tea strainer? Any size sieve will do!

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