When to Shake and When to Stir

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James Bond was so wrong when he asked for his martini “shaken, not stirred.” Deciding when to shake and when to stir a cocktail is an important part of mixology, and has a huge impact on a drink’s texture and appearance.

Here are the ground rules for shaking or stirring, so you won’t make Bond’s same mistake again.


  • When: Shake cocktails when they include fruit juices, cream liqueurs, simple syrup, sour mix, egg, dairy or other thick mixers.
  • Equipment: Cocktail shaker ($10), Hawthorne strainer ($4, the strainer with the metal spring on it).
  • Why: Shaking adds tiny air bubbles into the mixture, making it easy to drink with a light texture. For drinks with fruit juice, it gives a frothy appearance, and for drinks with egg, it adds a foamy, meringue-like layer on top.
  • Examples: Daiquiri, Whiskey Sour 


  • When: Stir cocktails when they use distilled spirits or very light mixers. Many gin and whiskey cocktails are stirred because shaking might “bruise” the spirit.
  • Equipment: Bar spoon (set of 2 for $5), julep strainer ($5, the strainer that looks like a slotted spoon with holes in it).
  • Why: No air bubbles to cloud the clarity of the drink. The stirred cocktail will have a silky texture and creamy feel. Stirring also maintains the aromas of the spirit.
  • Examples: Manhattan, Mint Julep 

Photo credit: gimmemeoven.com 

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