At Death & Co, we’re strong proponents of learning by doing — that is, by activating not just your brain, but also your body and senses. Before starting a project — and certainly before you can get good at something — you must comprehend it and understand its purpose. Then, with practice, you’ll gain fluency and mastery of techniques.
Knowing what cocktails should be shaken vs. stirred is a simple example of understanding, then doing. Keep this quick guide in your back pocket when thinking about your next round of at-home cocktails.
If a cocktail has any fruit (citrus or otherwise), egg, or cream, it should be shaken—vigorously. These ingredients are usually very viscous and must be integrated into the drink with a good deal of effort. Conversely, if a cocktail is mostly spirituous—with vermouth, bitters, or small amounts of sugar or other modifiers—it should be stirred.
Another way to look at it is through the lens of intention. With a shaken drink, you’re looking to agitate and “liven up” the ingredients by creating lots of tiny air bubbles, which results in a light layer of froth on top of the drink and a slightly effervescent texture. When stirring a drink, you want to integrate the ingredients without adding any air bubbles, resulting in a texture that’s smooth and silky over the tongue.
Excerpted from Death & Co Welcome Home, available here.