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When to Shake or Stir Your Cocktail

A person strains a cocktail into a martini glass.

If you like to entertain at home, you probably already know a lot of cocktail basics. Unless James Bond is one of your guests, though, you also need to know when to shake or stir certain drinks.

The answer lies in which spirits and mixers are in each drink. For example, you should shake a cocktail with thicker, sweeter ingredients, like fruit juices, cream liqueurs, dairy, simple syrup, sour mix, or egg.

When you shake these ingredients, it ensures they’ll all be incorporated properly to round out the flavor. It’s also particularly important for drinks that contain dairy or other ingredients that are prone to separating.

Shaking helps break down the ice inside and chills the drink more. It also dilutes potentially potent ingredients—like the orange liqueur and cranberry in a Cosmopolitan, for example—for a smoother finish.

Plus, when it comes time to strain, there’ll be some nice ice shards on top of the drink or, in some cases, even a froth or foam.

So, next time you want to really impress your guests (or yourself), pull out those bar accessories and shake and stir like you have a master’s in mixology.

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