Does a cocktail shaker seem like an unnecessary tool for you? Are you one of those drinkers who relies on building drinks directly in the glass? Does the process of shaking drinks seem like a hassle that takes too much time?
If you can answer 'yes' to any of these questions, allow me to make the argument as to why you need a cocktail shaker in your life...
01 of 06
A Better Mix of Flavors
The primary purpose for shaking cocktails is to completely integrate all of the drink's ingredients in order to create one beautiful blend of flavor. The shake is the most thorough way to mix drinks and, if you notice, the majority of cocktail recipes recommend this technique.
In many cases, you can get away with simply pouring and stirring a drink directly into the glass, though I challenge you to do a side-by-side comparison between that and a shaken version of the same mix. Not only does... the shake mix ingredients more thoroughly, but it adds an effervescence to the drinks that lightens it up and adds character.
This is also true for those mixed drinks that use a flavor base and are topped off with soda. This Ginger Lime Long-Tail recipe is a perfect example: the liquor and lime base are perfectly mixed and that is accented with ginger beer and bitters.
The shaken versus built difference can be most notable in the creamy drinks that many of us crave. If you want to stick to a lifetime of drinks with the consistency of a White Russian, have at it. However, you are missing out on the greatness of cocktails like RumChata's Mint ChocoChata Martini. You will not get the same taste out of this cocktail if it is stirred.
02 of 06
Proper Dilution vs. Watered Down
The secondary benefit of shaking is a proper dilution of water. The amount of time that a drink interacts with ice during the shake is just long enough to add the perfect amount of water to the mix, resulting in a smoother finished cocktail.
It never fails (especially in warm weather) that the end of an ice-filled drink is watered down and almost tasteless. If you were to shake the same drink and serve it without ice, it would remain consistent from beginning to end.
Keeping any drink cold without dilution is not difficult, either. Try using regular ice cubes in your shaker and pouring those over large ice chunks like those from a King Cube tray or an ice ball. These will melt slower, diluting your drink less. Another option is to use pre-chilled whiskey stones. These give you all of the chill with no dilution.
03 of 06
Break away from the standard mixed drink and enjoy a martini or two! By sticking with the tall mixed drink you are restricting yourself from the enjoyment of this fantastic, diverse group of cocktails.
While it may be possible, you cannot enjoy any of the martinis the way they were meant to be without a cocktail shaker. The majority of martinis are shaken and even those that are stirred will at least need a strainer to remove the ice.
If you want a martini, there are no excuses for not having a... shaker.
Related to this point, you do not always have to serve a 'martini' in the traditional cocktail glass, either. If I'm sitting at home and want to enjoy an up drink without the tall, easy-to-spill glass, I'll simply pour it into an old-fashioned glass. The point is the drink, not the drinkware (especially when no one else cares!).
04 of 06
Diversify Your Drinks
Looking beyond the many drinks dubbed 'martinis,' you will find that a cocktail shaker opens up a whole new set of cocktails to explore.
The first two arguments above are just the beginning as to why bartenders shake drinks. It's not just to look cool behind the bar, but because the majority of cocktails simply taste better when shaken.
Some drinks rely on the shake for very specific reasons...
- Ingredients like pineapple juice and eggs add a texture and foam that only comes with a... vigorous shaking session.
- Without the shake, you are missing out on great drinks like a fresh Piña Colada, New Orleans Fizz, and Pisco Sour.
- Milky drinks are often too heavy without a good shake.
- Even fruit juices like cranberry need a little lightening up (a point that any Cosmopolitan lover will agree with).
If exploring great drinks of all kinds is your desire, then a shaker is required.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
It's Worth the Time
I believe that one of the biggest issues that people have with using a cocktail shaker is time. At first, it may take you longer to shake rather than pour your drinks, though with practice and experience it becomes second nature and you can shake up a perfect drink in no time.
There is the clean up issue as well, but again, you will likely find this worth your time and you can often get away with a quick rinse in between drinks. The exception to this when mixing with pungent ingredients like absin...the or hot peppers, which usually require a good wash.
Are two more minutes of your time worth a superior drink? In my book, they are. Remember, patience is a virtue.
06 of 06
It Looks Cool (and is a Workout!)
You do want to look cool, right? Shaking a cocktail is the coolest bar technique that anyone can do (the bottle flippers take top honors).
It's true, the technique of shaking has a certain appeal and it is fun to play with your own shaking style. Some bartenders play it cool, some make it look painful, and everyone has a shaker face.
Cocktails are fun and mixing them should be as much fun as drinking them!
Not only does your shaking add a little flair to your personal image, but the it is a... great workout for your arms.
For some people it is a cost or use issue. Do you want to spend $20-50 on another tool that you may or may not use? If this is your last hesitation against the cocktail shaker, give a cheap shaker a try and see if you like the difference in your drinks and if it does fit your lifestyle.
Most liquor stores have an inexpensive plastic cocktail shaker near the register and, while I don't recommend them for long-term use, these are an inexpensive way to test out a shaker. You can always upgrade if you get hooked on the shake.