The SHAKE vs. STIR Beginner’s Guide!

The SHAKE vs. STIR Beginner’s Guide!


At Cheeky one of the questions we hear most often is "How do I know if I should shake or stir a cocktail? James Bond always says shaken not stirred, so..."

First of all, forget Bond, for now... 

The difference between when to Shake vs Stir isn't complicated but knowing when and why you do each will help you to anticipate what tools you'll need for serving up specific drinks and give you a basic understanding behind the principles of classic cocktail recipes. 

Here's our simple breakdown:


Common shaken cocktails include classics old and new like the Daiquiri, Cosmo, Penicillin, and Margarita. Shaken drinks have ingredients that need a little more work to properly emulsify into a cocktail including juice, cream, and eggs. By far the most common one you'll work with is juice and this ingredient is a good indicator your cocktail is in the category of bright and refreshing.

Whatever you use to shake your drinks, a good no-leak seal and a nice controlled but firm technique will have your ingredients working together in about 10-15 seconds ensuring your cocktail is blended but not over-diluted. 

Cheeky Tip: Batching for groups is a great way to make a boozy thirst-quencher without having to shake a drink for every guest at the party. Check out our video for the Whiskey Wild where we've blended peach black tea infused Bourbon with our Cheeky 100% Lemon Juice and Simple Syrup for a drink that can be served in minutes.

As easy as spiking the punch bowl, only it's all above board! 



Stirred drinks typically contain syrups, vermouth, amari, and other elements whose silky textures are desirable to maintain in the final drink. Stirring should be a graceful endeavor, you're aiming to chill, dilute, and incorporate your ingredients without working air bubbles and ice into the liquid.

Think classics like Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and yes, *Martinis which are a classic blend of gin/vodka and dry vermouth. Bond may have preferred his shaken but unlike him we like ours stirred for a satiny and smooth result.

*What if you like Dirty Martinis and need to add olive brine? It is juice, kinda... 

If Ian Flemming is old school, we're gonna go old old school and say to each their own on this one! Trust your preference and shake or stir until perfectly cold and diluted.


Cocktail Game

Want your cocktail game as on point as Bond’s outfit?

check out the tips below for some seriously fine execution skills.


Easy peasy POINTERS

Building Drinks: We like to build drinks by adding juice and syrups first, spirits last. That way we're adding our most expensive ingredient at the end and we're less likely to pour the incorrect ingredient or measurement on top of it.

Shaking Drinks: When using a Tin on Tin or Boston Shaker always shake your drinks with the large tin on the bottom, holding both ends firmly and striving for strong regular shakes. This will help hold your seal (and avoid disaster!), aerate and emulsify your drink, and chill and dilute to perfection in about 10 seconds. Make your drink in the smaller tin and fill 3/4 way to the top with ice before you shake.

Most shakers can be used to make two drinks at once max, any more and your seal will break and you'll never get the ingredients properly mixed. 

VISUAL LEARNING: Watch April make and shake a Tommy’s Margarita!

Stirring Drinks: A little practice goes a long way and you'll have the hang of this skill in no time.

Keep your stirring spoon with the curve against the glass, trying to rotate smoothly. The goal is to have all your ice moving together in swift quiet circles. After you’ve got your cocktail ingredients poured into the mixing glass fill 1/2 way full for a single drink or 3/4 way full for 2 drinks with ice for the best chilling and dilution.

Spoon giving you trouble? Try a plastic or metal chopstick!

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