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Cocktail History

Many people have been mixing drinks for 100s of years, but it was not before 17th and 18th centuries that the precursors of the cocktail (the Slings, Fizzes, Toddies and Juleps) became well known enough to be noted in the history books. It is undecided where, who, and what went into the creation of the first cocktail, but it seems to be a particular drink instead of a list of mixed drinks during that time.

The first publicized quotation to the cocktail shows up in the Farmer's Cabinet (Amherst, New Hampshire, April 28, 1803). The spoof editorial narrates of a "lounger" who, with an 11 who, with an 11 am hangover." Sipped a glass of cocktail - fantastic for the head..."
In Imbibe! David Wondrich stages the first known cocktail recipe in print to Captain J.E. Alexander in 1831 who calls for gin, whiskey or rum in a mix of "... a third of the spirit to two-thirds of the water; add bitters, and enrich with sugar and nutmeg."

How to shake a cocktail

Shaking is a pretty easy technique to master. Unlike stirring, shaking allows you to express personal style and wit, which are always fun guests at a cocktail party.

What you'll need:

  • One cocktail shaker
  • The ingredients for your cocktail
  • Ice

What you will need to do:

  1. Chill your serving glass. You can store it for a short time in the freezer or a longer time in the fridge, or you can fill it with a mix of ice and water and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Measure and pour your ingredients into the mixing glass, without ice. It lets you watch what you are doing, so you don't over- or underpour one or more ingredients. Also, if you are mixing in front of a guest, it makes it easier for them to see the cocktail being built in the glass.
  3. Add ice to mixing glass. If you're using large chunks or cubes, you'll need to shake longer to break up the ice and achieve proper chilling and dilution. Smaller ice requires a shorter shake.
  4. Place the mixing tin over the top of the glass. Using the heel of your hand, tap sharply against the base of the tin to seal the shaker. If you've sealed it properly, you should be able to pick the entire shaker up from your counter or table just by lifting the tin.
  5. Hold the glass away from your guests, in your dominant hand over your shoulder. If anything leaks from the shaker, it will leak away from your guests and behind you instead of spraying your guests in the face.
  6. Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds. You want to break up the ice and mix everything thoroughly. A short, wimpy shake will not achieve this. You don't need to go crazy, though. You should hear the ice rattling around in the shaker, striking the sides, top, and bottom. Let the shaker tell you how vigorous is vigorous enough.
  7. Holding the mixing tin in your non-dominant hand, with the glass pointing toward the ceiling, tap the heel of your dominant hand against the mixing tin to break the shaker open.
  8. Remove the mixing glass from the tin and set aside, leaving the cocktail and ice in the tin. Meanwhile, dump icewater (if using) from the serving glass. Strain shaken cocktail into serving glass. Garnish appropriately.