Good drinks tell a story... and this is the story of those drinks. Each week, we'll be serving up a remedial cocktail lesson for bartending beginners to help you get the most out of your glass, with recipes, interviews, and histories coming right up.
Lesson 1: Shaken or Stirred?
For our first lesson we figured we'd start with something, shall we say, low-proof: When to shake and when to stir your drink.
If the name's Bond, you've got a license to break the rules. But otherwise it's pretty cut and dry when it comes to stirring or shaking a cocktail, so don't mess with the method.
Joey Picchi of SRO, the bar within a bar at San Francisco's Oddjob we highlighted in our Best New Bars list, didn't mince words on the subject. "If it's a spirit-forward cocktail like bourbon or gin or scotch, or even sometimes rum, all of that should be stirred," says Picchi.
But the why and wherefore? "Because you want to be able to control the dilution, how much water is going into the spirit. And you're also chilling the product, which is going to make it easier to analyze over your palette." Manhattans, Martinis, any cocktail that contains only spirits is going to get stirred.
By contrast, "Anything shaken is going to have some kind of mixer in it, syrup, bitters, lemon juice, egg white, it's a mixed cocktail that you want to shake to completely combine and blend." No need to go overboard, says Picchi: "The dry shake [that would be a pre-shake for egg whites before adding ice] should be 15 seconds, but that's coming from behind the bar."
Last, when a cocktail has some carbonated ingredient like soda, it gets "built" in the glass, since obviously a shake is out of the question. Building is the term for making a drink in the glass it'll be served in, and pertains to drinks like a Dark and Stormy or an Old Fashioned.
Looking back on our lesson, you can see where Bond got it wrong: "shaken, not stirred?" A Martini? What's to shake? There's no lemon, no egg white. What's really happening, according to Gizmodo, who investigated, is you (or Bond, who maybe wanted to keep his wits about him) are losing a lot of booze in the process. That's because shaking with ice dilutes your drink, of course, and also chills it much more than stirring would, sometimes to the point where you probably can't taste it. It also, as they say, "bruises" the spirit, leaving little shards of ice in the mix that technically should be strained out.
Now that you've got that down pat, it's time to stir a drink:
Coat of Arms
per Joey Picchi
2 oz. small batch bourbon
1 oz. cranberry liqueur
2 Dashes of aromatic Bitters
Stir then serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
1 1/2 oz. Old Tom gin
1/2 oz Grand Classico
1 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. egg white
3 sprigs of thyme
Muddle thyme sprigs in a shaker, then combine rest of ingredients. Dry shake for 15 seconds. Then shake with ice for another 15 seconds. Double strain which means use both the mixing glass strainer as well as a fine sieve, to strain out any pulp or ice shards into a coupe/cocktail glass and garnish with small sprig of thyme.