Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Shake or not to Shake

When to shake and when not to shake....Simply put one should stir martinis, manhattans, Rob Roy's and Gimlets.Maybe as a cocktail culture we got away from this because of James Bond. I don't know. Shaking bruises liquor and can make these drinks watery and cloudy. The function of shaking is three fold; to chill the drink, to dilute the drink and to froth the drink if for example, you were making a flip. 

Bartenders Cocktail Shaking

Mixologists and bartenders are weird about the shake. I have seen shake off competitions. For non-liquor hounds this is very strange. However, what this consists of is a bunch of skinny, vest clad hipster barman shaking the hell out of a Boston shaker. Behind the head, over the knee, under the leg or with spasmodic rhythm close to the chest.  It has always felt a bit like being privy to a circle jerk to me.

Even more than the James Bond epidemic I blame the misuse of vermouth for all those years of bartenders beating the crap out of "martinis." I was waiting for my family to arrive for dinner at the Houston's Restaurant on West Paces Ferry road in Buckhead and I ordered a Hendrick's Martini up with a twist with vermouth. Sad that one must ask for vermouth. Without vermouth a martini is just a big f-ing shot!!! the very gracious and efficient bartender was explaining to me that this was only the third Martini that he had made that someone had actually wanted vermouth in he shook the life out of my rather expensive gin. I get it. I worked in Buckhead too. I know that many of the wealthy, eat out every meal crowd, really only wants a respectable shot in a big glass... I want someone who knows how to make a basic drink like a Martini. Is it too much to ask for a $13.50 drink before tip?

O.K. so I have jumped off of the soap box a bit. Deep sigh... According to Thomas Mario in Playboy's New Host and Bar Book circa 1971 "It is no major disaster if you unwittlingly shake rather than stir a martini; it will turn cloudy, but only for a few minutes." It's true. My martini was quite delightful and I had totally gotten over the cloudiness by my third sip. That being said I truly appreciate the professionals that take the time to educate themselves and use proper technique.

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