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(( Cocktail Techniques ))

Posted by drinkscompanion on August 14, 2007

…and Equipment

Not Just Boston and Go

This seems painfully obvious: put the booze in the glass or tin, add some ice, put a top on it, and shake the crap out of everything, right? You’d think so, but no! Well, yes, but there are many ways to shake, and a ton of options for equipment, none of which are right or wrong – just different. I’ve spent a lot of time at some amazing bars here in New York, and if there’s one thing I can say, it’s that there is no dominant shaking method. Sure, certain places instruct their bartenders to shake a particular way, but I see that as more of an operational consistency, an intended way of doing things to plant an overall impression of professionalism.

So this post is dedicated to the shaker and the various ways we all use it.

First, let’s look at the gear. There are two basic shakers: the Boston shaker and the Cobbler shaker. No need to linger on this, because it’s probably over-kill to anyone who’d actually read this, but there’s a variation I’ve come to like a lot.

Like most American bartenders, I use the Boston shaker. Sitting atop most bars you’ll find two metal tins accompanied by a pint glass. The small tin has a capacity of 16 ounces, the larger 28 ounces. That pint glass is, well, a standard pint glass (16-ounce) but occasionally with some thicker glass. I think we all know how this works.

Over the last year, I’ve noticed certain places using a different sized shaker in place of the small, 16-ounce tin. At Pegu Club, Death and Co, PDT, among other places I’m sure, they use jiggers for everything directly into an 18-ounce metal tin. In comes large ice, and the 28-ounce tin goes on top. The 18-ounce tin sticks out much like a pint glass does in a classic Boston shaker setup, but doesn’t add a top-heavy weight. It creates a really nice balance that feels right when shaking. If you’re just free pouring, and count on the glass to gauge your measurements, the 18-ounce tin probably isn’t a good option – this setup is intended for jigger use.

Also, the 18-ounce tin is beveled slightly inward. Because of this, the tin will seal perfectly with the larger tin every time. After a non-beveled tin has seen some days, they usually start to get a bit dinged up on the edges. These little gaps become a total nightmare when making an egg-white cocktail, spraying everywhere when dry shaking.

Why are these places breaking from the standard? There must be a reason, right? From my understanding (thanks to the fine folks on the eGullet forums), the use of metal-on-metal for shaking allows the liquid, the ice, and the metal tin to come into a quicker thermal equilibrium. Room temperature glass, by comparison, absorbs more thermal energy (giving off its heat) and therefore won’t chill as quickly, resulting in further dilution. This is why you’ll see these same places using a chilled mixing glass when stirring drinks (a topic I’d love to come back to later): the chilled glass with its high thermal transfer is actually beneficial when chilled because it transfer thermal energy to the liquid.

It took me a while to track down these 18-ounce shakers. People talk a plenty about the Bowery with its great restaurant supply stores. Poppy cock! While that might be true for some areas of the restaurant, the bar gets the shaft. A friend directed me to barsupplies.com, which I’ve been using now for a while. Once you sift through the gimmicky crap, they actually have some good stuff. And they’re not even paying me to say so.

(Side note: barsupplies.com, feel free to pay me. I’m perfectly comfortable wearing a T-Shirt. And I’m told I’m quite fetching. Mascot? Surely!)

Now onto technique.

The most common type of shaking I’ve seen is the standard over your shoulder, back and forth shake. Essentially, you’re pushing the ice from front to back, hitting at two points within the shaker. It’s a nice rhythm, and is very easy to get comfortable with.

Then there’s another method I’ve seen used by bartenders like Dale DeGroff (see this video, about two thirds of the way in). See what he’s doing? It’s not just a back-and-forth method, but seems to get the liquid swirling on the inside, making it have more contact with the shaker and, I’m guessing, cooling and mixing everything more efficiently.

And then there’s shaking from the side (as shown here, about six minutes in, by the totally awesome Robert Hess). Personally, this method seems more for the home bartending – a bit lazy, I guess, and also inefficient if you need to be shaking two cocktails at once or need free range of your other hand for whatever reason. But, let’s be honest, any shaking is gonna look painfully awkward on video.

If you’ve spent time in Japan, or even bars staffed by traditional Japanese bartenders (Angel’s Share here in NYC, for example), you’ve probably noticed their affinity for Cobbler shakers. It’s not just that, though, they also shake a little differently: the fabled HARD SHAKE. I can’t find any video of this, but here’s a pretty terrible translation of the technique by its founder, Mr. Kazuo Uyeda. It’s complicated, and I’m more than a little confused as to the actual scientific foundations for the Hard Shake, but the basic idea is this: when you do the Hard Shake, you make the liquid consistently hit four points within the shaker. You hold the shaker by putting your left hand palm up and your elbow at a ninety-degree angle, put the shaker on top of your hand so it is horizontal and the top is pointing towards your chest. Leave enough room so your fingertips can curl up and cup the end. Now, bring the right hand in, putting your thumb on top of the shaker and your fingers and palm on the shaker’s body. Wing your arms out, like you’re praying. Shake forward once, down once, and down a little lower for the final shake – a one-two-three count. Go slow at first. I’m told that the Hard Shake should sound like a steam train building up to a fast pace, then slowing down.

Tat – tat – tat
Tat – tat – tat
Tat – tat – tat
Tat – tat – tat

Any thoughts?

-by APD

42 Responses to “(( Cocktail Techniques ))”

  1. Paul said

    Excellent! I’m always a little shaky when it comes to technique, and I need to read more of this kind of stuff. You’ve summed up the whole temperature-transfer thing in a way my physics-challenged brain has never been able to absorb from eGullet.

    Standing by for more ….

  2. drinkscompanion said

    Thanks! Don’t you worry, more in the works…

  3. We’d like to show you some love, but for the life of me I can’t find a way to contact you on the site. Email me back, and I’ll see if there’s anything we can do for you.



    • Lisa said

      Music definitely sets my pace when I run. I usually start out slow, but it’s faster than I like to go, so I have to work really hard to slow myself down. It was worth it, though, as I could usually run several miles at a fairly steady pace. Glad you are making adjustments and enjoying your runs!I can’t wait to see pics of to;#2&a8y17ds eats, especially the Coney sauce!

  4. Heya… Nice blog layout and enjoy the writeups! Damn, I wish I could think of that many words. In any case, do you favor the weighted tins for both the 28 and 18? Or some other combination?

  5. So, I keep reading about this Hard Shake method and keep finding all descriptions lacking at best. Also, it seems to not have made it to Seattle, yet.

    Help me out here. Someone make a friggin’ video and post it to YouTube!

    – G.MacThoy – Future Master Mixologist, Bartender, and Proprietor. Currently, Doorman and Desk Jockey. Yes, dEsk.

  6. I’m sure Bar Supplies will be thrilled to hear this; but, absent input, I’ve ordered both weighted and non-weighted tins of both sizes to experiment with. Funny how the dual tin method is so popular on the East Coast. I’ve never seen a bar or tender using them out here in San Francisco. You’d think avoiding broken pint glasses would be enough of a motivation right there. Erik.

    • Mavrick said

      Esperemos que este não dê barraca como o outro.No Concelho do Seixal, líderes do PS e PSD reavivam antigo duo de música romântica: Chitãozinho e Xororó. Podem conferir a capa do seu disco "Somos Apoq&onadasxiuot; no blogue .

  7. drinkscompanion said


    I’m very sorry for not replying. I was actually out on the west coast this whole last week (Oregon native), so I wasn’t able to answer any of the comments. Now, a hellish 18 hour travel adventure later, I’m back in NY and have to head into work soon. Regarding the tins: I prefer a weighted 28 oz and an un-weighted 18 oz combination when shaking with large ice. Why? Well, I’m kind of a little guy, with not the largest hands in the world, so when I’m double shaking, I find I can grip the tins that much better and shake the living out of my drink without separation. When using 2in X 2in cubes like we do, and putting two in at a time, there’s some serious mass and momentum to be held together. With smaller ice, however, I generally prefer both tins to be weighted as it’s less of an issue and I’m generally fussy about symmetry.

    Gryphon…I’ll respond soon, I swear.

  8. ellestad said

    Ha! No problem, then, as I just would have had to get both anyway! Thanks for pointing me towards bar supplies. It was just the nudge I needed to finally get a dual tin mixing set. Cheers!

  9. Gryphon MacThoy said

    Please do! I’m all hyped up to impress my drinking buddies.


  10. […] on a tip from DrinksCompanion I scored a set of 28 oz stainless tins and 18oz cheater tins from BarSupplies.com. Not to mention a […]

  11. I have to amend my comment above, “I’ve never seen a bar or tender using them out here in San Francisco,” as I stopped by at The Slanted Door this last week, (great bar program, BTW,) and they were employing the East Coast double tin method with great gusto.

  12. Lady Green said

    There we go folks….


    • Ice said

      Japan would have gone for Hawaii sooner or later as it continued its expansion and its search for strategic bases.But there's an isolationist argument for why we should have never taken Hawaii… or Ca.arofniilThe problem with the isolationist argument is if we really had avoided international entanglements, we would have remained a British colony instead of making an alliance with France.

  13. While I still remain skeptical of the value of the so-called hard shake, after a several months of cocktails, I am in complete agreement with your preference for shaking large ice with an unweighted 18 and weighted 28.

  14. Oooo! By accident I discovered an even better combo than an unweighted 18 and a weighted 28!

    Weighted 28 and the bottom tin from this stainless 2 piece shaker!

    2 Piece Shaker

    It sez 18oz, but it is slightly larger.

    More headroom to get that ice moving!

  15. shake weight reviews…

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    {Hi|Hello|Hi there|What’s up}, just wanted to {mention|say|tell you}, I {enjoyed|liked|loved} this {article|post|blog post}. It was {inspiring|funny|practical|helpful}. Keep on posting!|
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    {Hi there|Hello}, I enjoy reading {all of|through} your {article|post|article post}. I {like|wanted} to write a little comment to support you.|
    I {always|constantly|every time} spent my half an hour to read this {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}’s {articles|posts|articles or reviews|content} {everyday|daily|every day|all the time} along with a {cup|mug} of coffee.|
    I {always|for all time|all the time|constantly|every time} emailed this {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site} post page to all my {friends|associates|contacts}, {because|since|as|for the reason that} if like to read it {then|after that|next|afterward} my {friends|links|contacts} will too.|
    My {coder|programmer|developer} is trying to {persuade|convince} me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the {expenses|costs}. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using {Movable-type|WordPress} on {a number of|a variety of|numerous|several|various} websites for about a year and am {nervous|anxious|worried|concerned} about switching to another platform. I have heard {fantastic|very good|excellent|great|good} things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can {transfer|import} all my wordpress {content|posts} into it? {Any kind of|Any} help would be {really|greatly} appreciated!|
    {Hello|Hi|Hello there|Hi there|Howdy|Good day}! I could have sworn I’ve {been to|visited} {this blog|this web site|this website|this site|your blog} before but after {browsing through|going through|looking at} {some of the|a few of the|many of the} {posts|articles} I realized it’s new to me. {Anyways|Anyhow|Nonetheless|Regardless}, I’m {definitely|certainly} {happy|pleased|delighted} {I found|I discovered|I came across|I stumbled upon} it and I’ll be {bookmarking|book-marking} it and checking back {frequently|regularly|often}!|
    {Terrific|Great|Wonderful} {article|work}! {This is|That is} {the type of|the kind of} {information|info} {that are meant to|that are supposed to|that should} be shared {around the|across the} {web|internet|net}. {Disgrace|Shame} on {the {seek|search} engines|Google} for {now not|not|no longer} positioning this {post|submit|publish|put up} {upper|higher}! Come on over and {talk over with|discuss with|seek advice from|visit|consult with} my {site|web site|website} . {Thank you|Thanks} =)|
    Heya {i’m|i am} for the first time here. I {came across|found} this board and I find It {truly|really} useful & it helped me out {a lot|much}. I hope to give something back and {help|aid} others like you {helped|aided} me.|
    {Hi|Hello|Hi there|Hello there|Howdy|Greetings}, {I think|I believe|I do believe|I do think|There’s no doubt that} {your site|your website|your web site|your blog} {might be|may be|could be|could possibly be} having {browser|internet browser|web browser} compatibility {issues|problems}. {When I|Whenever I} {look at your|take a look at your} {website|web site|site|blog} in Safari, it looks fine {but when|however when|however, if|however, when} opening in {Internet Explorer|IE|I.E.}, {it has|it’s got} some overlapping issues. {I just|I simply|I merely} wanted to {give you a|provide you with a} quick heads up! {Other than that|Apart from that|Besides that|Aside from that}, {fantastic|wonderful|great|excellent} {blog|website|site}!|
    {A person|Someone|Somebody} {necessarily|essentially} {lend a hand|help|assist} to make {seriously|critically|significantly|severely} {articles|posts} {I would|I might|I’d} state. {This is|That is} the {first|very first} time I frequented your {web page|website page} and {to this point|so far|thus far|up to now}? I {amazed|surprised} with the {research|analysis} you made to {create|make} {this actual|this particular} {post|submit|publish|put up} {incredible|amazing|extraordinary}. {Great|Wonderful|Fantastic|Magnificent|Excellent} {task|process|activity|job}!|
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    {Hello|Hi|Hello there|Hi there|Howdy|Good day|Hey there}! {I just|I simply} {would like to|want to|wish to} {give you a|offer you a} {huge|big} thumbs up {for the|for your} {great|excellent} {info|information} {you have|you’ve got|you have got} {here|right here} on this post. {I will be|I’ll be|I am} {coming back to|returning to} {your blog|your site|your website|your web site} for more soon.|
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    Your {way|method|means|mode} of {describing|explaining|telling} {everything|all|the whole thing} in this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} is {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}, {all|every one} {can|be able to|be capable of} {easily|without difficulty|effortlessly|simply} {understand|know|be aware of} it, Thanks a lot.|
    {Hi|Hello} there, {I found|I discovered} your {blog|website|web site|site} {by means of|via|by the use of|by way of} Google {at the same time as|whilst|even as|while} {searching for|looking for} a {similar|comparable|related} {topic|matter|subject}, your {site|web site|website} {got here|came} up, it {looks|appears|seems|seems to be|appears to be like} {good|great}. {I have|I’ve} bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    {Hello|Hi} there, {simply|just} {turned into|became|was|become|changed into} {aware of|alert to} your {blog|weblog} {thru|through|via} Google, {and found|and located} that {it is|it’s} {really|truly} informative. {I’m|I am} {gonna|going to} {watch out|be careful} for brussels. {I will|I’ll} {appreciate|be grateful} {if you|should you|when you|in the event you|in case you|for those who|if you happen to} {continue|proceed} this {in future}. {A lot of|Lots of|Many|Numerous} {other folks|folks|other people|people} {will be|shall be|might be|will probably be|can be|will likely be} benefited {from your|out of your} writing. Cheers!|
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    {I am|I’m} {extremely|really} impressed with your writing skills {and also|as well as} with the layout on your {blog|weblog}. Is this a paid theme or did you {customize|modify} it yourself? {Either way|Anyway} keep up the {nice|excellent} quality writing, {it’s|it is} rare to see a {nice|great} blog like this one {these days|nowadays|today}.|
    {I am|I’m} {extremely|really} {inspired|impressed} {with your|together with your|along with your} writing {talents|skills|abilities} {and also|as {smartly|well|neatly} as} with the {layout|format|structure} {for your|on your|in your|to your} {blog|weblog}. {Is this|Is that this} a paid {subject|topic|subject matter|theme} or did you {customize|modify} it {yourself|your self}? {Either way|Anyway} {stay|keep} up the {nice|excellent} {quality|high quality} writing, {it’s|it is} {rare|uncommon} {to peer|to see|to look} a {nice|great} {blog|weblog} like this one {these days|nowadays|today}..|
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    {I’m|I am} not sure where {you are|you’re} getting your {info|information}, but {good|great} topic. I needs to spend some time learning {more|much more} or understanding more. Thanks for {great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} {information|info} I was looking for this {information|info} for my mission.|
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  21. 最も小売業者 を万能 $8.00 に個々 ペア提供。 を取る 、鉛筆の消しゴムとそれをこする少しずつについて それ。。引く このが は、することができるではない を参照してくださいにまたはにお問い合わせください、製品を開始するに-手。

    • Ricky said

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    • Iy sakitt bgt.. Pertama x wktu usiaku 16 thn. Gusi di bgian kanan bawah bengkak dan nyeri bgt rasa’a. Eh skrg pas di usiaku ke 20 lg tumbuh graham sbelah kiri. Knp bs beda waktu tmbuh gigi’a ya??

  22. 彼らがすることができます地域映画、またはインター コンチネンタル映画.
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  23. レプリカ フェラーリ携帯電話中心に、本格的なデバイス。ことができます均等にストリーム ビデオ、写真、および音楽でについて大きなインターフェイステレビ。Karlie 突破のミランダ ・ カーに立ってない、。彼らを提供するこのの携帯者を強力な最適なレベルの映像の明瞭さ。 – マークバイマークジェイコブス

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  32. moothe said

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  35. kadernicky Salon VYZZE Barrandov

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