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How to Stir a Cocktail


Stirring is a technique reserved for mixing drinks that contain only spirits, it looks easy, but can be tricky to master.

The reason for stirring and not shaking these types of cocktail is to retain the texture of the spirt, while chilling and diluting at the same time. You want the first sip of a martini to be uninterrupted by unnecessary aeration or stray ice chips. Stirring is most often carried out in a purpose made stirring glass, but the tins of a two piece shaking set will also work just as well.

  1. It is always best to start by chilling your mixing glass in a freezer or fridge. This helps to bring down the temperature of the spirit without over diluting with ice. Add your ingredients to the mixing glass and rest your bar spoon inside, avoiding the sometimes awkward task of getting the spoon to the bottom.
  2. Add the ice to around 3/4 full of the glass or tin
  3. Place the bar spoon between the middle finger and ring finger, a little higher than half way from the base of the spoon
  4. The aim when stirring is to gently push the ice around the glass, without adding air, mixing and diluting at the same time. To do this the back of the spoon stays in contact with the glass at all times. The top of the spoon should stay centred, the wrist shouldn’t move, just using your fingers to slowly push the spoon around the inside of the glass.
  5. There is no given standard for when your stirred cocktail is finished. It will depend on various factors including the ice, temperature and speed of stirring. Stop stirring after 10 seconds and tasting the drink. At this point you are checking for dilution and temperature.
  6. Once you’re happy with the mix it is time to strain. A stirred drink is usually strained once with a julep strainer, however a hawthorn can be used if preferred. Place a strainer in the mixing glass and whilst holding the glass keep the strainer in position with your index finger. Pour the liquid into a pre-chilled cocktail glass, or rocks glass filled with fresh ice depending on your serve.

Stirring will take a while to perfect but is an easy technique to practice with just ice and water in a mixing glass. This skill will allow you to mix a raft of classic cocktails.


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