Stirred cocktails on
On-the-rocks drinks can be made either right in
a lowball glass with ice, or stirred in a shaker
and then strained into a glass with fresh ice.
Although the first method is faster, we prefer
the second method because it is more of a performance.
To build a cocktail on the rocks, begin by filling
your shaker about two-thirds full of ice. If
you aren't certain how to pour exact measures,
the three best techniques for pouring are explained
in our article on measuring
alcohol. Pour in your mixer and alcohol, and
stir the alcohol with the straight end of your
bar spoon. The reason that you stir with
the straight end is so that you won't spill ice
Now, take your strainer and fit it into the top
of your shaker. Although the strainer looks very
complex, its design is very simple. The strainer
will prevent the ice cubes from pouring out with
the drink, and the wiry coil makes it easier to
fit it into the shaker. Once you've fit your strainer
into the top of the glass, pour the beverage into
a rocks glass full of fresh ice. Garnish
the cocktail as appropriate. If you're interested,
more information about garnishes
Stirred cocktails straight
Building a stirred cocktail straight up is very
similar to building a stirred cocktail on the
As with the stirred cocktail on the rocks, begin
by filling a shaker two-thirds full of ice and
add your ingredients. The first difference is
a subtle one - since you won't be pouring the
drink into a glass with ice, it is important that
you give the contents time to chill with the ice.
To expedite this, stir the cocktail with the straight
end of your bar spoon for several seconds before
affixing the strainer. Once the strainer
is affixed, strain the drink into a cocktail glass
and garnish appropriately.
Shaking a cocktail elicits the delight of your
guests when done properly, but we recommend that
beginning bartenders be wary of spilling the beverage
while shaking it.
Begin by filling your shaker two-thirds full
of ice and add the ingredients of the shaken cocktail.
Place the stainless steel shell over the top
of the shaker and press down on the shell to make
a seal between the two. Then, firmly grab both
the top and the bottom of the shaker and shake
it up and down. The steel shell should contract
when the ice makes it cold, so the seal will become
quite strong. If, at this point, you want
to get fancy in your shaking, the seal should
You now need to break the seal. Look for the
frost line on the shell and tap the shell with
the heel of your hand at this line. If you've
struck properly, there should be an audible crack
as the frozen seal breaks and the shell comes
Now, turn the shaker glass and shell over together
and pull the glass out of the shell, and strain
the beverage out of the shell into a stemmed glass.
Shaken cocktails will almost always call for a
stemmed glass, as they will keep the hand of the
drinker from warming the drink.
Finally, be sure to clean out the shaker. The
best way to do this is to add some water to the
shaker, shake and strain it out, and then wipe
out the inside of the shaker.
This article is the fifth article in a ten article
series designed to transform people new to drink
mixing into competent bartenders. Click
for the next article in the series, Tips
from the Professional Bartender.