How difficult can it be to shake a cocktail? Surely all you have to do is jiggle it around a bit? Er not quite. If you want a well-made drink – a heavy-on-the-alcohol Daiquiri, say, or even a creamy Brandy Alexander – the perfect shake is essential to the overall taste.
Why? Because a good shake mixes the drink and takes the edge off the alcohol by diluting and softening it – so it doesn’t grab you at the back of the throat. It’s also essential to get the right temperature and aeration effect ( we won’t get too technical here but just think texture and silky mouthfeel.)
Funnily enough, the shaker, though, isn’t as important as the shake itself. You can go fancy if you like but when you’re starting out, use a simple three-part Cobbler Shaker consisting of a metal tin, lid with built-in strainer and a cap (available from www.homecocktailshop.com). Even a Kilner jar will do.
Start by adding all the ingredients to it. Then it’s time for the star of the show: ice. You’ll need plenty of it – solid cubes not crushed, they just end up making your drink watery. Fill your shaker with about two-thirds of ice then place the lid over the body, secure the cap and you’re ready for shake-off.
Forget a limp-wristed wiggle. You need to show your shaker who’s boss. Hold it confidently with both hands – one hand securing the cap, the other cradling the bottom. Position it over your shoulder (right-hand side if you’re right-handed and vice versa), then shake hard at a slight angle, not up and down or side-to-side – give it some welly and get a rhythm going.
Time-wise, you’re aiming for around 15 seconds or until your shaker starts frosting over and your hands feel cold. Remove the cap, keep the lid in place with your finger and pour the drink into your glass through the built-in strainer, et voila – you’re done. Simple.
This week we’re loving…
B.Y.O.C., the new cocktail bar where you bring along the base ingredients for your cocktails i.e. the alcohol. Hand your bottle to the bartender and he’ll whisk up bespoke concoction using the homemade syrups and cordials, herbs, fruit and spices available from the vintage trolley. Nice and quirky.
B.Y.O.C, 28 Bedfordbury, London, WC2N 4BJ. www.BYOC.co.uk. Booking essential: email@example.com.
Written for The Independent Dish of the Day blog 28/2/2013