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Have a cocktail shaker that you’re looking to put to good use? You’ve come to the right place. Here is a collection of some of my favorite shaken cocktails.
Shaking a cocktail with ice chills a drink with amazing efficiency. It also aerates the drink and adds tiny ice chips throughout.
But when do you shake and when do you stir?
Shake when a drink includes juice, dairy, eggs, or muddled herbs or fruit. All of these require the agitation involved with shaking to mix with alcohol. And with enough shaking, eggs and dairy turn frothy like meringue or whipped cream.
Stir when a drink involve only spirits (or spirits and simple syrup, like an Old Fashioned). Stirring produces a clear, smooth drink. And if you’re looking for more in that vein, I’ve got you covered with my list of stirred cocktails.
What shaker should you buy?
I recommend a two-piece shaker, also known as a Boston shaker. I like an all metal set like this one. Most three-piece cobbler shakers (the kind of shaker you might have gotten in college) freeze up and become almost impossible to pry open when they get very cold.
You’ll also need an inexpensive Hawthorne strainer, because the two-piece shakers don’t have a strainer built in.
If you’re looking for more cocktail gear recommendations take a look at my list of essential tools for your home bar.
Aperol and Elderflower Margarita
This margarita replaces the traditional triple sec with a combination of bitter Aperol and floral elderflower. You can use your favorite elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germaine here. I tend to keep the less-expensive but still delicious St. Elder on hand for these purposes. I like to use a combination of kosher salt and sumac to coat the rim, and I prefer to coat only half the rim to allow for the option of sips with no salt. The sumac adds some visual interest and a subtle sour flavor, but is totally optional if you don’t have it on hand. This drink has a bitter edge to it, which is how I prefer my drinks. If you like your drinks on the sweeter side, use 3/4 ounce of both the Aperol and the elderflower liqueur.
The Clover Club is a lovely pre-Prohibition cocktail with gin, lemon, homemade raspberry syrup (which comes together quickly, but you'll want to make it at least a couple of hours or up to a week or so ahead of time). I like a London dry style gin here, such as Plymouth or Brokers, but it would work well just about any style of gin you like. I've included elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain here, but it's an optional embellishment that you can leave out if you're going for tradition. The egg white adds lovely meringue-like texture. (P.S. If you need equipment, I like this kind of cocktail shaker, a hawthorne strainer, and this type of citrus juicer for making this drink.)
This drink is frequently made with lemons or limes. I prefer limes here. If you’re nervous about using raw egg white, you can always go with pasteurized eggs. The texture here is light and frothy and foamy, a bit like meringue. Some people make this with 3 ounces of pisco, but I think that’s too much. I’ve opted for 2 ounces here, which makes a balance I prefer, but you can do what you like. I’ve always made this with Angostura bitters, because I always have those on hand, but Amargo Chuncho bitters are more traditional. You could also go with your favorite variety of aromatic bitters if you’re the kind of person who has a favorite variety of aromatic bitters.
Aperol Sour Cocktail
This drink is tart, light, and refreshing. It makes a great pre-dinner or brunch drink. Aperol is an Italian amaro that’s similar to Campari, but much milder with notes of bitter orange, rhubarb, and herbs. Use any gin you like here. I particularly like this drink with a gin that is heavy on the floral botanicals. Hendricks is a good widely available option, but a classic London Dry style gin like Beefeater would also be nice here. You could even leave the gin out entirely for an even lower alcohol drink. As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite kind of shaker is the two-piece metal kind, and I swear by a squeezer like this one for juicing lemons and limes.
The Kingston Club
This tiki drink is fruity but not too sweet. The sweetness of the pineapple is balanced with the sour of the lime juice and the herbal notes from the Fernet Branca. To make fresh pineapple juice without a juicer, you can puree pineapple chunks in a blender and then strain out the pulp with a fine mesh strainer. For squeezing limes, this is my weapon of choice. I prefer shaking drinks in a two-piece metal shaker, which is so much easier to open than the three-piece cobbler shakers you may be more familiar with.
The Perfect Pear
This is a fruity, citrusy, sweet-tart cocktail that tastes like fresh pears. It’s a lovely and elegant drink for fall happy hours and gatherings. Meehan calls for Clear Creek Pear Brandy, which is excellent and is what I used here, but I’ve made it with other pear brandies and have been equally pleased with the results.