Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: shaken or stirred?

Well, it's back-to-school season ... alas. Somewhat in that spirit -- but in a much happier spirit! -- we're going to take a moment to become better educated on a question that is often asked: shaken ....

or stirred ...

For many, one of the first things that comes to mind with this question is James Bond's line, "shaken, not stirred" when ordering his signature martini. If James Bond says shake, why would anyone stir, right? Here's some instruction on the point from Southern Comfort's booklet "How to Make The 32 Most Popular Drinks":

Here is a little more information offered by the Woodford Reserve booklet, "Manhattans and More":

Okay ... and a little more from "Cocktails for Dummies":

So, to review: (1) shake drinks that mix spirits with juices, dairy, sugar, or eggs; (2) stir drinks with only spirits; (3) shaking will make minute shards of ice that will both make the drink cloudier and dilute the spirits more (a/k/a "bruising"); (4) stirring will keep a drink made with spirits clearer, but will not adequately mix drinks with juices, dairy, sugar, or eggs; (5) never ever shake a drink with soda or carbonated water in it, unless you're trying to make a mess.
So, let's focus just on shaking for a moment. You have your choice of shakers:
The Boston shaker is what you've probably seen the professionals use at bars, and the Standard shaker (sometimes called Cobbler shaker) is what a lot of homes have, as well as plenty of bars, too -- it's a little easier to use because all of the pieces fit together. As far as shaking technique goes, as we heard earlier "give it all you've got." Seriously, shake hard and shake long. Like so:

What about stirring? First of all, we need to concede that shaking a drink that should "technically" (for the purists) be stirred isn't a crime. The cloudy effect will dissipate within a minute or two, actually. Our own personal philosophy is that it really depends on the individual and how they like the taste. A stirred drink is going to be a little stronger, because less ice will have dissolved into the drink, and it will pour out into the glass beautifully pristine and clear. A shaken drink will be well mixed, a little more diluted, and be cloudy -- but it's interesting to see the cloudiness dissipate into as clear a drink as one which has been stirred. So, orthodoxy aside, shake or stir. But as far as stirring technique goes, here's the advice from "Playboy's Host and Bar Book":

Technique and know-how are certainly key skills for every bartender to have, whether professional or hobbyist. But far more important yet is the gift of personality and humor:

Lesson over and class dismissed! Cheers!

No comments: