Happy Monday! Last week we talked about how a built drink is made right in the glass in which you plan to serve it. This week we’re focusing on stirred drinks, which are prepared in a separate mixing vessel and then strained into a glass. They are very similar in many ways, but there are differences too. Stirred drinks are smooth, with very little texture (think no air bubbles here). They are also very clear with almost no cloudiness at all. You should be able to see right through them in the glass. These same two things are true of built drinks. For me there are three main differences between the two ways of making cocktails, the first being the ingredients involved. When a drink recipe calls for more than one form of alcohol (and no citrus), then I know I’m going to make it as a stirred drink. In a Manhatten, for example, I need to incorporate rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters together. I want to make sure they’re well-combined, so it makes sense to be stirring them in something larger. Along these same lines, if a drink is going to be served up (with no ice) in a cocktail glass, then we know for sure we’re not mixing directly in that glass. It would be impossible! The final factor for me is temperature. If you’re a person who likes Negronis (I happen to love them) then you know that you like them to be very cold. There’s no way to achieve that temperature by stirring directly in a glass. You need a lot more ice and a lot more time to sir.
When I make a stirred drink I add my ingredients to the mixing glass and pour in some ice. If I have a choice I like to use medium sized cubes here, nothing too small because they will melt too quickly and overdilute the drink. I use a mixing glass when I’m making a drink in front of someone that I want to impress because it makes a nicer presentation. When I’m making a drink for my husband (sorry Joe, humor is important in blog posts) I go with one half of a shaker tin. Metal gets cold a lot more quickly than glass so it brings the temperature of the drink down faster. Your choice here – either will work. Once the ingredients and the ice are in the glass (or tin) I use a long handled bar spoon to stir and stir and stir (about 15-20 seconds for me). I try to stir for the same amount of time whenever I prepare a drink this way so that my drinks are consistently at the same temperature. I also try to stir smoothly (easier said than done for a home bartender!) so that I don’t get a lot of air into the drink and cloud it up. Finally, once the drink is ready, I strain it into a glass using a julep strainer and add my garnishes.
Check back with me tomorrow and we’ll make a Manhatten together!