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In defence of the `shaken, not stirred` martini

10-Sep-2009 • Bond Style

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel explains why and how a martini should be shaken...

James Bond has no problem shirking the establishment, even when it comes to his cocktails. The tuxedoed secret agent orders his martinis, "shaken, not stirred."

Good choice, 007. The shaken cocktail is frosty and frothier than the stirred variety preferred by traditionalists.

Mixing a drink in a shaker is a step most home bartenders skip, but they shouldn't. Shaking a drink isn't just for show. It helps meld and chill the ingredients, and it adds just enough water to cut the sharpness of the alcohol.

"In general, Americans enjoy a cold drink, so a good hard shake adds to the enjoyment of the cocktail," says New York restaurateur and bartender Michael Waterhouse.

So what are the basics?

Start with the ice. Cubed, not crushed, ice is essential for a good shake. Crushed ice melts (and thereby waters down the drink) too quickly. Also, the desirable tiny chips of ice left floating in the drink are formed by cubes crashing against one another.

Most home bars have a cobbler shaker, which comes with a tight-fitting lid that has a built-in strainer. It's the best bet for novices.

A more advanced amateur mixologist might want to try a shaker that is similar to the one the pros use, the Boston shaker. It has a metal canister and a glass tumbler that fit together. The big difference is the lack of a built-in strainer — an advantage when one seeks a more frothy drink.

How to do it: Shaking a drink should not be aerobic exercise. Really, it's all in the wrists.

Hold the cobbler shaker with two hands, one securing the lid, about shoulder high. Then, using your wrists, shake back and forth for about 15 seconds, or until the shaker becomes too cold to hold and a fine frost forms on the canister. That's it.

Now pour: Pour the drink through the shaker's strainer to prevent large chunks of ice from falling into the glass.

Garnish: I always thought a twist was just colorful garnish, but Waterhouse says it provides an important flavor element, and there's no point in cutting just a sliver of rind.

"Twists should always be cut fresh off the fruit because you want to get all the juice out of it," Waterhouse says.

Squeezing the twist over the drink and rubbing it on the rim releases oils from the rind, subtly flavoring the drink.

Waterhouse's Raleigh Collins, a lemonade-like cocktail made dangerously good with tequila, is unbeatable on a hot day. It's also a great excuse to practice your shaking technique.

This recipe calls for the Italian lemon liqueur limoncello available in some wine shops.

Raleigh Collins: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add 4 ounces tequila blanco, 2 ounces limoncello and 2 ounces fresh lemon juice. Shake vigorously 15 to 20 seconds. Fill 2 tall glasses with ice.

Using the top of the cocktail shaker, strain the mixture into the glasses. Top each with 1 ounce club soda. Cut two 1-by-2-inch strips of rind from an orange. Reserve the rest of the orange for another use.

One at a time, hold a strip of orange rind above each drink and twist and squeeze to release the oils. Rub the strip around the edge of the glass, then add to the drink. Makes 2 servings.

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