The Rule Of Thumb To Remember For Whether To Stir Or Shake Cocktails

If you're new to the world of cocktails, you might be forgiven for wanting to shake every single beverage that graces your home bar. It just looks like so much fun, and it makes it seem like you're doing something really fancy. Unfortunately, a large number of cocktails just don't need to be shaken, per GQ.

Maybe it was the influence of James Bond that has you thinking your martini should be shaken... not stirred. Maybe it was Tom Cruise flipping bottles around in "Cocktail." Either way, if you're trying to impress with the quality of your drinks, you better learn when they need to be shaken, and when they need to be stirred.

Cocktails & Bars say that the drinks that need to be stirred are usually either clear, or made entirely with spirits. In these drinks, the purpose of stirring is simply to cool, integrate, and lightly dilute the drink. According to MasterClass, this includes drinks like manhattans, negronis, and corpse revivers.

According to GQ, shaken cocktails are typically accompanied by an additive like egg whites, fruit juice, honey, or cream. This includes drinks like margaritas, daiquiris, and whiskey sours. Most notably (write this down), it does not include a classic martini. Sorry, Mr. Bond.

Why some cocktails need to be shaken

GQ points out that shaking a cocktail accomplishes a few very specific needs. Yes, it accomplishes the same things as stirring (those being integration, dilution, and cooling), and you get to look cool while you do it. Shaking also does something that stirring never can though, and that would be aerating your drink.

Mad River Distillers claims that when pouring a shaken cocktail into a glass, it can almost look like it's been carbonated. Punch adds that this is especially true for drinks that contain ingredients like egg whites and cream. These high-protein ingredients will actually trap air bubbles inside of them while they're being shaken, which can create a foam on the top of the drink after just a few vigorous shakes.

This is great for drinks that will gain something from that added aeration, but it can actually damage the texture of others. This brings us back to the martini. MasterClass says that shaking a drink like a martini will actually damage the velvety smooth texture that would be created by stirring the drink. Shaking will also add small chunks of ice throughout the drink that cloud the otherwise clear appearance.

How to shake a cocktail

If you find yourself making batches of margaritas, or just want to defiantly shake every drink you can get your hands on, you might as well make sure you're doing it right.

GQ recommends using a two-piece Boston shaker because it gives more room inside for aeration than the smaller cobbler shakers. Using this will require either two glasses, or just one metal shaking vessel and a similarly sized glass. Put your drink ingredients inside with ice, and fit the two together with a good hit from the heel of your palm.

From there, the amount of time that you need to shake depends on the kind of ice that you're using. GQ points out that using larger ice cubes will take longer because it will take more effort to break the ice apart and sufficiently cool the drink. MasterClass adds that using cold ice rather than wet, half-melted ice that's been sitting in an ice bucket for a few hours also makes a big difference. Using solid ice helps you to know when the drink is finished because you can feel it breaking down. Wetter, slushier ice will break apart differently though, and it might be hard to know when you've given it a vigorous enough shake.

Once you're finished, hit the side of the glasses with your palm again to loosen the seal, per GQ. Then, give the drink a double filter to help catch any large ice chunks, and enjoy!