Make Cocktails at Home

Learn Mixology – in your own home!

Tag: Mix Methods

How to stir cocktails at Make Cocktails at Home

Brush Up On Your Core Cocktail Making Skills

Ready to brush up on your skills?

To make truly great tasting cocktails it’s important to understand both the reasons and the mechanics behind how they are made. Although it may sometimes seem like it, (good) bartenders do not just reach for the shaker every time they make a drink – they use the right tool for the right job, at the right time.

Start by having a quick look at the different types of bar equipement you’ll be using.

Essential Home Bar Equipment

 

Now that you have an idea about the equipment, it’s time to  answer the age old question – shaken or stirred?

Have a look at the different mixing methods and when you should use them.

Mixing Cocktails 101 – The Methods – Overview

 

And the Individual methods

Mixing Cocktails 101 – The Methods – Build

Mixing Cocktails 101 – How to stir a cocktail

And of course, the all important

Mixing Cocktails 101 – The Methods – Shake and Strain

 

How to stir cocktails at Make Cocktails at Home

Mixing Cocktails 101 – How to stir a cocktail

The proper way to stir a cocktail

 

For more info about bar equipment check out the ‘Essential Equipment for your home bar’ blog post

Time for the next post in my series on mixing methods, and today we’re going to take a look at stirring, or stirred,  cocktails.

I’ve previously covered shaking, an aggressive action we use when we need to mix ingredients that that differ greatly in consistency (mixing spirits, juices and syrups together for example), but what if we are using simpler ingredients?

If we are simply mixing two types of clear alcohol together (such as gin and vermouth) then the aggressive nature of shaking  is really more than we need- it  will ruin the appearance of the drink by making it cloudy,  and the small chips of ice that break off during the shaking action can also add often unwanted dilution to the drink.

Instead, we’re going to treat this cocktail with respect – be gentle, and stir.

Technique

You will need:

  • Mixing glass (part of your shaker set)
  • Bar spoon

Take your (clean) mixing glass and fill it with (clean) ice.

Using a measure for accuracy pour in the ingredients from your cocktail – for example if you are making a Martini, pour in measured amounts of gin and vermouth.

Now you have the ingredients in the ice it’s ready to mix.

 

 

It’s time to grab your bar spoon. Ever wondered why it was so long? Well, wonder no more – the extra length lets us get right to the bottom of a mixing glass to the precious, precious alcohol.

Carefully push the ‘spoon’ end of your barspoon down the side of the glass right down bottom, holding the base of the mixing glass steady with one hand.  Stir the spoon around in a gentle circular motion making sure that the ice and liquid  move around almost silently – we want a smooth mixing action, we’re not trying to smash the spoon through the ice.

Continue stirring until the drink is mixed – you may read ridiculous things in fancy guides like “stir clockwise 27 times” but really the mount you need to stir will depend on how fast you are stirring, and in general it will probably take around 30 seconds. The most important thing to remember is that we are stirring for a reason – we want to make the ingredients mix and the drink temperature nice and cold – so we will be finished when we have accomplished these two goals.

Mixed and cold, it’s time to move the drink into our glass. Grab your Hawthorne strain (or a Julep strainer if you have one), fit it over the top of your mixing glass and carefully pour your cocktail into it’s new home.

 

Done.  Now be a good bartender – rinse your equipment – and then take a seat, relax, and enjoy your beautiful stirred cocktail.

 

/ dave

Bird Shaker

Mixing Cocktails 101 – The Methods – Shake and Strain

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Shake and Strain

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For more info about bar equipment check out the ‘Essential Equipment for your home bar’ blog post

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Depending on the ingredients used and the overall effect we are seeking there are a number of mixing methods that we can use to make cocktails. We’ve covered built drinks already and today we’re going to look at the most visible – shaking.

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Shaking and cocktails appear to go hand in hand – it often seems like anytime more than two ingredients are involved they have to be tossed into a tin and shaken around by an enthusiastic bartender. Shaking is an aggressive mixing motion and helps us to mix and chill multiple ingredients quickly and efficiently. The aggressive nature of shaking means that getting the correct technique is very important.

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Technique

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Start by taking your mixing glass and setting it on a table, giving yourself enough room to work.

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Add your ingredients (whiskey, lemon, syrups etc) into the mixing glass, being careful to measure for the correct amounts.

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Fill the mixing glass with ice – we add the ice last to minimise dilution.

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Place the shaker tin on top of mixing glass, being careful to have a slight angle to avoid a ‘perfect seal’ (which is a real pain in the wherever to try and get off) and give a nice, hard tap to seal the glass and the shaker.

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Ready for some shakiing

 

Hold the shaker, ensuring you have a solid grip of both the mixing glass and the shaker tin (we don’t want to let go by mistake!), and shake hard in nice big movements allowing the ice to travel from one end of the shaker to the other. The further the ice travels the better as it will mix and cool the drink faster – you’ll hear a ‘clack clack’ sound as the ice hits each end of the shaker if you’re doing this correctly.

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How to shake a cocktail correctly

 

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Continue shaking hard until you have the right level of cooling and dilution – the exact time depends on the style of drink, but around 10-12 seconds will usually be good. If you’ve shaken hard enough then there should be condensation on the shaker tin.

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Now its time to separate the shaker. Hold the shaker tin in one hand and use the palm of your other hand to give a hard ‘tap’ on the tin where the mixing glass and shaker meet. This should break the seal and allow you to lift the mixing glass off and away.

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Now it’s time to taste test the cocktail. Use your finger to cover the end of a straw and dip it into the cocktail so that you can get some liquid to taste. You want to check whether the cocktail tastes balanced (the right levels of sweet/sour/bitter) and make sure the flavours are correct. If you need to make any adjustments then do so now and either stir or give another quick shake.

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The cocktail tastes good (of course!) so it’s time to transfer the drink from the shaker to a glass.

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Check your recipe to see whether you need to fill your destination glass with ice (if you’re using a Collins or an Old Fashioned you will probably need to). If you do then make sure to fill it right to the top as more ice = colder drinks of the correct size.

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Use your Hawthorne strainer to pour your drink into the glass without any of the ice or other junk in the shaker following along for the ride. If you are pouring into a cocktail glass you won’t be using icing the glass so you can double or fine strain by pouring through a tea strainer placed between the Hawthorne strainer and the glass – this will help collect any small pieces of ice or fruit that and make the cocktail look better.

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Finish off by adding your garnish and a straw (if necessary). You’re done!

Cocktail set

Buy Cocktail Set at Amazon!

 

Triple Stacked Collins

Mixing Cocktails 101 – The Methods – Build

The Built Cocktail

When it comes to making quick and easy cocktails there is nothing faster than a built drink.

As the name suggests, building a cocktail is a process of adding one ingredient after the other and stacking them straight into the glass, no shaking or straining necessary.

 

When do we build cocktails?

We use the built drink mixing method to make cocktails that do not need the extra cooling, mixing or dilution that the other more aggressive mix methods give us – it works best with ingredients that will mix together easily.

 

Built drinks are often long drinks (served in highball or Collins glasses) and will normally have few ingredients.

 

The easiest order to make a built drink at home is:

 

Non alcoholic ingredients -> Spirits & Liqueurs -> Ice -> Mixer -> Garnish/Straw

 

How to Build

 

 Non-Alcoholic Ingredients

Start by adding the non-alcoholic ingredients (lemon or lime juice, syrups etc) to the glass first. Alcohol is pricey [well it is here in Sweden anyway…] so this way if you make a mistake with the measures of syrups or juices you’re not going to have to throw any precious booze away.

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Alcohol

Once the non alcoholic ingredients are in the glass it’s time to add the spirits and liqueurs. Remember to use a measure to ensure the correct amount of booze goes into your cocktail as we want these drinks to taste good and that’s only going to happen if our proportions are correct.

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Ice

Non-alcohol and alcohol are now in the glass so it’s time to add ice. Remember that for most drinks (especially those in Highball or Collins glasses) we want to add as much ice as possible as this will slow down the dilution and also stop us from adding to much mixer.

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Mixer

With the glass stacked with ice we can now add the mixers/lengthening ingredients (soda, coke, fruit juices etc). If you are making a long drink then pour the mixer until about ½ cm from the top of the glass – if the glass is too full then you’re more likely to spill.

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Finish

Use your bar spoon to carefully give the drink a stir, add your garnishes and straws as necessary and you’re ready to serve.

 

Build cocktail example:

Cuba Libre (click link for full cocktail recipe)

 

Start with non-alcoholic ingredients

Start with non-alcoholic ingredients

 

Measure the rum

Carefully measure the alcohol

 

The Rum goes in

Pour the alcohol into the glass

 

Cuba Libre

Add ice, mixer, garnish and you’re done

 

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Non alcoholic ingredients -> Spirits & Liqueurs -> Ice -> Mixer -> Garnish/Straw

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Lime juice -> Cuban style Rum -> Ice -> Coca Cola -> Lime wedge and straw

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Next mixing lesson will be Shake & strain, until then let me know if you have any questions or comments.

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//David

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