Mixology is generally accepted as a slang term for a refined and in depth study of the art and craft of mixing.
Shaken or Stirred
We all have heard of the famous line by James Bond 'Shaken not stirred'... But we wonder what the difference is? As you're looking through cocktail recipes you'll see some are shaken, some stirred, but is there a theory behind which method to choose?
"When to Shake?
Shaking introduces tiny air bubbles into the mixture. This gives drinks containing fruit juice a slightly frothy appearance and those containing egg whites a foamy, meringue-like head. We shake cocktails when they include fruit juices, cream liqueurs, simple syrup, sour mix, egg, dairy or any other thick or flavourful mixers. Shaking will create a strained drink with a cloudy, effervescent look at first that will clear up within a few minutes after straining."
Drinks we shake- Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri, Whiskey Sour, Ramos Gin Fizz (here, club soda is added after shaking is complete)
Technique - Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice to fill halfway (use about half a tray of ice). Shake thoroughly - 30 seconds for a Margarita or a Daiquiri (a Ramos Gin Fizz, on the other hand, is at the extreme end of the spectrum and calls for up to 5 minutes).
Strain into a cocktail glass and add garnish.
When to Stir?
Stir cocktails that use distilled spirits or very light mixers only. Stirring is a more gentle technique for mixing cocktails and is used to delicately combine the drinks with a perfect amount of dilution. Many gin and whiskey cocktails are stirred because shaking is said to ""bruise"" the spirit."
We stir when preparing a drink that contains all-alcoholic ingredients (a true "cocktail" in the historical sense of the term).
We stir cos no air bubbles or little shards of ice to cloud the clarity of the drink.
Examples - Imperial Cocktail, Manhattan, Martini, Negroni, Rob Roy
Technique - Place all ingredients in bottom part of cocktail shaker (or cocktail pitcher or mixing glass), fill shaker with ice cubes, about 3/4 full (use close to a full tray of ice for the job). Stir with a bar spoon (a long-handled spoon which traditionally has a twisted handle, although any long spoon will do in a pinch). Let the mixture “rest” 30 seconds or so in order to allow the alcohol to chill and the ice to melt slightly, creating dilution, then stir again. Strain into a cocktail glass and add garnish.
What is Building (or '"Pouring")
If the drink contains a carbonated ingredient such as soda (i.e., a highball) Just a quick stir is all that's needed to blend the ingredients. Because the drink is to be served "on the rocks," there's no need to strain out the ice. This simple, one-step approach of combining alcoholic and carbonated ingredients directly in the drinking glass ensures the drink's fizziness isn't compromised by over-handling.
Gin and Tonic, Dark and Stormy, Vodka and Soda
Technique- Add all ingredients to the glass and gently stir with ice.
Understanding the Different Types of Soda Used in Mixed Drink
Sodas are some of the most important mixers in a bar. There are a few types of soda that will be employed on a regular basis in the bar and these should be included in your every day stock. To understand the difference between each is valuable when experimenting with new drinks or when you're out of one and need a good substitute. All sodas are different - the same as each brand of vodka or gin is different from the others - one tonic water may be fruitier or drier and one ginger ale may be sweeter than others.
Buying Soda - When buying bottled sodas, choose the smallest bottles possible unless you are planning on using a large amount at once, say for a party. The majority of the carbonation is lost when the seal is first cracked and a Scotch and Soda or Whiskey Fizz with two day old soda will be weak, flat, and undesirable. With the smaller bottles you can usually pour one tall or two short drinks and every one will be fresh.
Types of Soda- These first four soda waters are very similar to one another and can be substituted for one another in a pinch. When choosing one of these light sodas it is important to remember that your drink will only be as good as your soda.
Soda Water: Soda water is the foundation for most of the other sodas and is soda in its purest form. It is simply water with carbonation added and is also called sparkling water, carbonated water, or seltzer.
Club Soda: Club soda and soda water are almost identical, and sometimes club soda is just another name for soda water. The two are interchanged in drinks all the time. Club soda often contains additives such as table salt, and occasionally light flavourings.
Tonic Water: Tonic is a bitter-tasting soda water that dates back to 1858 and is flavoured with quinine. It was originally used for medicinal purposes.
Ginger Ale: Ginger ale is another lightly flavoured soda water, except in this case is contains ginger, sugar, and each brand's has its “secret" ingredient. There are two types of ginger ale; golden and dry. Ginger ale is a versatile soda for tall, refreshing drinks because its sweet spiciness pairs well with so many spirits and flavors.
Ginger Beer: This soda has not been as common as the others. It is less carbonated than most sodas, and is typically made with a combination of ginger, lemon, and sugar, with a decidedly spicier ginger taste. Some of the best ginger beers are from Jamaica.
Citrus Soda: You will come across more than a few mixed drinks that list lemon-lime soda (Lynchburg Lemonade, Seven & Seven). Sprite, 7-Up, and Sierra Mist are the most common commercial brands.
Cola: Coke, Pepsi, RC, or whatever brand, cola is pretty self-explanatory and it is an essential in any bar. Rum and whiskey are popular spirits to pair with cola.
How Many Shots are in the Bottle?
The standard drinks measure is the amount of pure alcohol you are drinking. One standard drink equals 10 grams of pure alcohol.
If you are throwing a party and plan on featuring a specific cocktail or two, use the "How Many Shots in a Bottle" chart to figure out the amount of your base spirits and liqueurs you should have in stock.
The Importance of Ice and Best Way to Use Ice
Cocktails and mixed drinks would be nowhere without ice! Ice not only chills drinks, but as it melts or is shaken it becomes a part of the mix and because of this, the frozen water deserves more than a little attention.
There are four basic types, or forms, of ice (cube, cracked, shaved and block) and each have their uses.
Ice Cubes: Ice cubes are good for almost all mixing: for shaking, stirring, drinks on the rocks, or with juices and sodas. The larger, thicker surface area makes a cube melt slowly and causes less dilution and it is customary to fill a glass or shaker 2/3 full for best results.
Cracked Ice- Smaller than cubes, cracked ice melts faster and adds more water to drinks. Usually this is used when making frozen drinks because cubes can clog blender blade and be inconsistent in the end.
Crushed or shaved ice is what you typically find in fountain soda machines. This is a very fine ice that can be used in a shaker to produce thick, slurry of a cocktail.
Block Ice: In the past all ice bartenders used ice as a block and it was up to the individual and their ice tools to create smaller, usable chunks and shavings for mixing.
Ice Ball: Another large chunk of ice that is becoming more popular is the ice ball, which is commonly used in Japan for serving "whiskey on the rocks.