Hard Shake Method

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Special cocktail shaking technique of Mr. Kazuo Ueda.



Shaking is a method of combining and chilling cocktail ingredients by shaking them together with ice. This is especially good for mixing a number of ingredients varying in difficult to mix consistencies such as cream, egg whites and syrups. Although the style of shaking may differ depending on the bartender, the common objective is the same, that of mixing and chilling. However, there is another objective involved aside from the above mentioned that differs from cocktails made from stirring, that of making smooth cocktails by softening the ingredients and alcohol. This has led to my inventing of the method I call "Hard Shake".

Let's suppose that the elements of liquor are in the shape of a square. In general, most would envision shaking as method of trimming and rounding the four-corners of it. However, I envision the process as the "square shaped" liquor swelling in a circular fashion, through mixing it with the bubbles. The bubbles would act as a cushion preventing one's tongue from direct contact with the harshness of the ingredients and liquor, leading to a smoother taste. As each of the liquor's elements comes together, the result is an added taste as well as fine-grained bubbles. This is ultimately what I strive for with my "Hard Shake".

An Encounter with the "Hard Shake"

It is really quite perplexing that the final taste of the bartender's finished product differs from bartender to bartender even though cocktails essentially consist of the same ingredients and are made using more or less the same recipes. Since becoming more and more aware of this, I have experimented with various methods for mixing cocktails, as nothing pleases me more than to make cocktails that my customers will enjoy the taste of. As a result I have discovered that by shaking the shaker with all my might results in bubbles of finer-grain consistency. My customers have pointed out that the very flavor of the alcohol in my cocktails is much milder, and I attribute this to the fine, velvety bubbles that form from the "Hard Shake" method. This has become an important theme of my shaking method. I continue to strive to make the very best cocktail and have altered my shaking style over time.

I believe that bubbles cannot be effectively created through mere ordinary shaking. Accordingly, I have come up with a complex three step shaking method that involves snapping of the wrists, and twisting the shaker while holding it in a slanted position. I have created the "Hard Shake" prototype from this (see diagram). I have been wrestling with different methods for creating a more complex cocktail flavor and have found that the larger the shaking movements are, the less complex it becomes. It is difficult to combine but easier to chill. Also, the bubbles that form are also different. My present shaking style has resulted from much effort to create a more efficient shaking style.

Ascertaining Successful Utilization of the "Hard Shake" Method

Since Shaking uses ice, although chilling is rather simple, mixing ingredients can be extremely difficult. A presupposition of the "Hard Shaking" method is that various ingredients can be hard-to-combine when utilizing it. "Hard Shaking" with no technique involved will result in a diluted, watery cocktail due to the ice within the shaker melting too much. However, when properly combined, the melted ice within the shaker will blend with the ingredients. A clear sign of a poorly combined cocktail using the "Hard Shake" method is a diluted cocktail.

The only way to ascertain whether the "Hard Shake" method has been performed properly is by drinking the final product and judging it yourself. A diluted taste means that the ingredients and the ice have not been properly mixed. Another sign of a well shaken cocktail is the forming of a whipped cream-like frost gravitating towards the top of the cocktail.

Optimal Ingredients for the "Hard Shake"

Certain ingredients will more easily bring out the strong points of the "Hard Shake" method. The best of these ingredients is cream. When cream is shacked as hard-to-combine, a whipped cream-like substance forms. It is a very suitable ingredient for practicing the "Hard Shake" method and it produces another taste sensation that cannot be found using other shaking methods. Although citrus fruit juices, especially lemon and lime, also bring out the strong points of the "Hard Shake" method, the bubbles they produce are only regarded as normal bubbles. Sustaining the bubbles will result in a more well-balanced sweet and sour as well as mild taste.

There are brands that are fit for and not fit for creating a proper base for the cocktail. After cocktail ingredients are broken down within the shaker, they are then all mixed and combined, coming together as one. Accordingly, a finished drink needs a brand that will demonstrate a certain uniqueness and one that will leave an impression on the base. Such spirits are demanded from cocktails made using the "Hard Shake" method. However, it is very difficult to judge this until the >Hard Shake" process is complete. Even if you use firm ingredients, there is always the chance that they may be too strong and damage the base. It's hard to tell whether this is ultimately due to the ingredients or due to over-shaking.

Examples of some suitable and durable ingredients for "Hard Shaking" are Gordon's for gin, Smirnoff for vodka, and Bacardi for white rum (there are of course other suitable ingredients). I would like to select ingredients that will retain their consistencies even when bubbles are formed.

Fine Grained Ice Floating atop the Cocktail.

Utilizing the "Hard Shake" method will result in fine grains of ice forming within the shaker. After pouring the cocktail into a glass, these grains float to the surface of the glass. I have discovered that adding this ice to the cocktail enhances the taste and further chills it. This discovery is nothing more than a by-product of the "Hard Shake" method. An extra feature of the "Hard Shake" method is that these fine grains of ice will also form by turning the shaker completely upside down. However, you will not be utilizing the "Hard Shake" method properly if you only focus on forming these fine grains of ice. Although the ice circulates within the shaker, it will ultimately just hit against the bottom of the shaker and break into small pieces. In the end, each piece of ice must be shaved down by strongly shaking the shaker. If performed properly, circular ice will form within the shaker. This may be the best way of ascertaining successful utilization of the "Hard Shaking" method.

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