The search for the perfect shake: which techniques result in the lowest temperature? How long should you shake to achieve optimum dilution? Can a short, sharp shake get the same results as a long one? And is there a ‘perfect’ shaker out there?
These burning questions lie behind Bacardi Brown-Forman’s quest to undertake the world’s biggest investigation into shaking.
What’s your style: are you a Duracell Bunny or a pocket rocket? Machine gun or more of a ‘vibrator’? Compare your shake to the ones in the video.
So far, they’ve videoed more than 400 bartenders and charted their progress. OK, it’s not the most scientific or controlled of experiments, but Ian McLaren, head of product training & mixology, says they have collated some pretty compelling evidence for what makes a good shake – and, of course, picked out some common errors in technique that can now be demonstrated as ineffective.
Each bartender shook 50ml of 40% abv spirit, chose from a cobbler shaker, three-piece shaker, Parisian shaker, Boston glass and tin and two tins. They then added their own measure of ice and shook using their usual style for their own chosen length of time. Ian and his team videoed them, timed them and measured the resultant temperature and the volume of strained liquid as a proxy for dilution.
Here are the investigation’s preliminary results:
Anecdotally this is the shaker that gets drinks really cold. However, the study demonstrated the most extreme of results, with the largest spreads of temperature and dilution from participants. Comment on timings? “For me it gets low dilution, nowhere near 100ml and the temp was inconsistent,” says Ian. “By rights, a cobbler shaker should be frozen on the outside when you are done shaking, but most people’s hands envelope it and take too much heat out of it.”
Most people feel a little awkward shaking this one so don’t shake it for very long
The three-piece, or large cobbler shaker, is on the rise. With cheap plastic versions once the scourge of supermarket alcohol aisles, the fashion for Japanese bartending techniques has inspired a new generation of bartenders to use larger three-pieces. “With these we had a massively mixed bag of results, with lots of outliers, ranging from -8°C and -7°C to -1°C and -2°C, with a range of dilution from 70-110ml.”
Yielding the fewest results so far, the Parisian shaker performed disappointingly, says Ian. “I expected this would create the coldest drinks as you can fit more ice inside, but that wasn’t necessarily true.”
Boston and tin
Arguably the most prevalent method currently in the UK, this one yielded more consistent results. Data groupings were tighter with most results in dilution between 80ml and 100ml, and most temperatures ranging between -2°C and -5°C following shakes of between 6 and 18 seconds. “This is a dying breed for a variety of practical reasons. They hold up all right but there’s nothing to my mind that should keep them in place as the go-to shaker.”
Two tins were the leading performer, with tight data groupings between bartenders. Temperatures were frequently measured at -6°C to -8°C across a range of timings from 4.2 to 18 seconds. Dilution was inconsistent but there was a grouping of data points from 76.2-105ml. “Two tins made for the most consistent results, they’re versatile and they’re hygienic too.”
The best technique?
What’s curious is that the results so far show there isn’t a defined technique that works for everyone. Emulating the Japanese hard shake might be trendy but, says Ian, few can master its techniques and most people would be better shaking hard and long to get better results.
“What’s interesting is that if you listen to a Kazua Uyeda-style shake (Uyeda-San is the inventor of the hard shake) you can hear the ice almost sliding around the shaker, it’s not the ‘percussive’ sound you get from normal shaking.
“But for most people, how you move your hands and your body makes a big difference. In fact, one of the coldest shakes we saw came from minimal movement, they were like a human piston, with only a few contact methods.
“You are really looking to achieve the maximum frequency of impacts per second, shaking lengthwise, and doing it for longer.
“From the data we have collected so far it would seem clear that, across all styles of shakers, a shake of between 8-14 seconds yields a very cold but not excessively dilute drink. Compare this with the average shake time of all of our samples at 7 seconds and it is clear that the bartenders of the UK are pressed for time but 1 or 2 seconds more could make a big difference.’
1. Gripping too tight? “Minimise the contact points your fingers make,” says Ian. “I try and use only the of my fingers, and find I can consistently get to -8°C or -7°C.
2. Not enough ice. “We had a few bartenders who only used a few cubes of ice. Be generous.”
3. Shaking laterally, rather than lengthwise. “The ice has to travel the length of the shaker otherwise it won’t chill your drink effectively.”
4. Letting go. “Safety first – apart from low-flying shakers, I’ve seen people break their own nose by not keeping hold of the shaker.”
Bacardi Brown-Forman is now embarking on a new study to complement its shaking investigation, evaluating different stirring techniques and their effect on dilution and temperature.
On test are different stirring vessels, from large patterned mixing glasses to stainless steel shakers; types of ice including crushed, cubed or block; and the stirring utensil itself, from metal bar spoons to wooden chopsticks.
Early results in uncontrolled conditions suggest crushed ice could actually produce less dilution and a colder drink than block ice.
The Bartending News Flash Team
source: diffordsguide CLASS Magazine