James Bond may prefer his martinis shaken and not stirred, but martini purists claim that stirring makes a better drink. So when do you shake a cocktail? Generally when it contains nonalcoholic ingredients such as syrup, juice, cream or egg whites. Shaking a cocktail with ice helps dilute the alcohol, emulsify the ingredients and cool the drink.
While there are a few types of cocktail shakers available, the most commonly used and sold is the Boston shaker. It’s composed of a metal cup, generally called a tin, and a glass cup. Assemble your drink in the glass cup and add ice. Turn the tin upside down and push it over the glass, giving the bottom of the tin a light smack to create a seal. Turn everything over so the tin is on the bottom and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Once you’ve returned the glass to the bottom position, with the side of your hand lightly hit the tin where it touches the glass to break the seal, then remove the tin.
Some varieties of shakers have built-in strainers, but you’ll need a separate strainer with a Boston shaker. Pour the drink through a strainer into a new glass if you don’t want fruit pulp or other ingredients to cloud the drink.
References and ResourcesMemphis Magazine: Confused About When to Stir a Cocktail and When to Shake It? Michael Hughes Explains
Esquire: How to Use a Cocktail Shaker
Serious Eats: Cocktail 101 -- Shakers and Spoons
Serious Eats: Cocktail 101 -- How to Shake a Cocktail
WIne Enthusiast: To Shake or to Stir?