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Perfect Host: How to mix a cocktail

Shaken, stirred, mixed or muddled? Is there a best way to blend a cocktail together? The answer, somewhat unsurprisingly, is that it depends on the ingredients. Whether you want to intensify flavours, froth up an egg white or simply cool ingredients down before serving, there is a particular method for each eventuality. Here is your Clos19 guide to physically putting together your favourite cocktails, based on what needs to go into them.


Some ingredients can curdle if you’re not careful, such as egg whites and cream. Shaking them together vigorously is therefore necessary and ice is usually used to combine and cool simultaneously. Fill your shaker with ice to just over half way, make sure the top is on tightly and shake hard before straining. Hone your cocktail shaking skills by attempting the famous Mai Tai.

The ‘silent shake’

A ‘silent shake’ is when ingredients need to be well combined in a shaker to become creamy and frothy, but not diluted by ice. Often, the silent shake is followed by a very quick shake with larger cubes of ice before immediate straining, just to cool the mixture down. Try the Whisky Sour recipe to practice your ‘silent’ shake.


A cocktail should be stirred (and not shaken) when it is meant to be served cool but without ice. Think of a classic Martini or a Grand Manhattan, where both simply require a gentle stir to combine the various elements. Use a mixing glass, add some largish ice cubes, then stir, strain to remove the ice and pour.


When you want to intensify the flavours of fresh ingredients such as herbs or spices, crush or ‘muddle’ them with the back of the bar spoon against your mixing glass (a thick glass is recommended here to prevent breakage). This helps the fresh ingredients combine with the rest of the drink for a more powerful, flavourful hit. Try your hand at ‘muddling’ with a Caipiroska or a Smokejito.


Layering ingredients is a particularly impressive bar skill to have, but it takes practice. The best way forward is to place your spoon upside down, touching the side of the glass, keeping it level with the top of the liquid. Next, pour your ingredients one at a time (and very slowly) onto the base of the spoon, allowing the pouring liquid to touch the side of the glass. Repeat afterwards with the next ingredient. If you can work out which liquids are heavier than others, you will be making your life much easier - and will look like a true mixology master while doing so.