This is one of the most classic drink making processes and simply entails adding ingredients to a cylindrical container, filling with ice, and then rotating the ice and ingredients together in the cylinder with a long spoon or stirrer. As the ingredients flow around the pieces of ice as they are stirred, two very important things happen to your cocktail:
- Your drink gets cold: The liquid ingredients flowing through and around the ice as you stir get very cold – but only if you use a lot of ice! Simple rule–ALWAYS add as much ice as possible to the container you are stirring in.
- Water is added: The most important thing that happens when you stir ingredients together with ice?The water you add to your cocktail as the ice slowly melts.
NB:Water is as important as any other ingredient in a cocktail
It is THE ingredient that unlocks the flavours of all the others, in particular from the alcohol. Without water, flavours remain locked away.
Without enough water, you will also have a harsh and unpleasant drink…and no one wants that! No better example of this is the Dry Martini. With the right amount of water, the Dry Martini, is a smooth and flavourful delight, without the right amount of water though…it’s just mean!
- Pick a cylindrical container. Sure, a Japanese cut crystal mixing glass is a perfect option, if you have one…but it won’t make your drink taste any better. So, don’t panic, you will already have something at home that will work just fine! A small vase, pint glass or a French Press (Simply the best ‘At-Home’ piece of cocktail making equipment. It even has an inbuilt strainer!) for example.
- Measure in your ingredients…do this BEFORE you add ice
- Add as much ice as you can fit in the container. NBonce you add the ice you are committed to stir and then strain the drink into its glass, no distractions, text messages, phone calls, social media…just stirring, nosing and tasting then straining. That’s because, as soon as the ice is added the process of adding water has begun as the ice begins to melt.
- Get a stirrer. Got a barspoon? Great!If not, I bet you have a chopstick. You just need something long and narrow and hygienic to be able to rotate or ‘stir’ the ice.
- You’re not scrambling eggs! You want to move the stirrer around the full circumference of the container, moving the ice like it’s one block. There should be little or no noise as the ice rotates and the liquid swirls and spins around it. Righthanded? A clockwise rotation is usually easier, and the opposite is true for left-handed drinks lovers.
- As you stir, the liquid gets colder, and water begins to be added. Stir for about 20 seconds then have a smell.
As water is added the alcohol is diluted and the aromatics begin to be released.
Take a non-plastic straw and dip it into the drink. Cover the end of the straw with a finger and lift the straw out. By covering the end of the straw it will act like a pipet. Put the bottom of the straw in your mouth, remove your finger and taste.
You know it’s ready when you can taste all the flavours in the recipe and the burn of the alcohol has been softened to a gentle warmth on the planet.
If the alcohol is still too aggressive and drink’s flavours have not been opened up yet, stir for a little longer and repeat the tasting process. Continue this routine until the drink is perfect. You also need to be careful not to overdilute. You can have too much of a good thing, and too much water will wash out flavours and make the drink taste insipid.
- Finally, if you have a julep strainer, splendid! If not, grab a serving spoon (a slotted spoon is even better) and use it to hold the ice back as you pour the liquid into the glass.
- Congratulations, you’re done! Now just refine your style…
Top Tips & Important Points
- Stirring with lots of ice will make the drink colder faster = ice will melt more slowly = better control of how much dilution you are adding. The reason we stir instead of shaking some cocktails is to be able to taste and smell the drink throughout the stirring process, ensuring we find the perfect moment of dilution.
- If you keep your Plymouth Gin in the freezer you will have to stir with Ice for much longer to add the required amount of water.
- Not all cocktails need the same amount of water to be added. A DryFifty-Fifty Martini (equal parts Gin/Vermouth)has a lower alcohol strength than a very Dry Martini (Gin/Dash of vermouth). This is because Vermouth has a lower alcohol strength than gin. Therefore, a Fifty-Fifty Martini needs to be stirred for less time than a very Dry Martini which will need to have MORE WATER added to it. Once made and poured into a glass, both drinks should have virtually the same alcohol strength– but only if you pay attention when you stir!
- How big and cold you ice is will have an impact. Smaller pieces of ice that have been sat out for a while will melt more quickly than larger pieces, especially if taken straight from the freezer. Like above…take care when stirring. Use your nose and your palate to decide exactly when the drink is ready…not time or number of stirs!