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shaking vs stirring a small backjard experiment

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Top 150 Contributor
Posts 17
Zoltan Nagy Posted: 12 Nov 2009 2:28 AM

Hello there!

I have seen last year at BCB from the very talented Traveling Mixologist guys an experiment that intrigued me.
Thay have shown how the alcohol percentage is reduced by shaking and stirring.

On the stage they have used a 50abv spirit which by stiring has fallen to 35 abv (more or less) and by shaking to 28abv ( more or less) not precise on the numbers but pretty much 7 or 8 abv grades difference less abv with shaking.

So, I wanted to show the same thing for my guys back home but it did turned out that using a 37,5 abv vodka has been deluted to 20 abv by both methods.

My question is could someone help me out what happened here?
it is because I have used less alcohol % with my experiment? It should not happen.





Top 75 Contributor
Posts 24
David Schmidt replied on 12 Nov 2009 9:06 AM

I read a Dave Arnold post on stirring and shaking and if I rememeber correctly he was saying that both gave the same dilution result but you had to stir longer than you shook. Maybe that's what happened... In the travelling mixologist test the strring and shaking time were probably the same.

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 1,173

When comparing stirring and shaking, it is important to measure dilution, temperature, and time, and to get enough progressive values to be able to chart the results. Time-wise, there is going to be a point where additional stirring or shaking aren't going to make much difference temperature-wise, but will continue to affect dilution.

I suspect the goal here is to find tha sweet spot where maximum chill and "just the right" amount of dilution. While you can measure for maximum chill, it is more problematic to find the proper dilution. This is a subjective value (for the most part), just as subjective as "What's the best ratio for a sidecar?" The water is essentially becoming another ingredient, and so just as each of us might prefer a different amount of Cointreau in our sidecars, so too will different people prefer a different amount of dilution in their cocktails in order to make it "balanced".

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 215

Technically the difference in ABV will maek a difference.


Because the thermal characteristics of water is different than alcohol.

Alcohol freezes at a lower temp than water.

Thus Alcohol can be made colder than water.

Thus the more alcohol the colder the drink the less ice melts from the same amount of stirring.

When shaking,  you brake the ice so no matter how high the alcohol volume is the ice will "dilute" quicker.

I believe because you had a much lower ABV the difference would be much smaller and the time you stirred VS shaked ould have to be a lot less to demonstrate the point.

Other factors like different quality of ice could also have made a difference.


(There's a much more scientific and exact way explaining this I'm sure but its a cocktail forum not chemistry class)


I write even more of this drivel on

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Top 150 Contributor
Posts 14


One notable difference that I perceive is mouthfeel, a shaken gin martini feels more agitated whilst the stirred version maintains a slippery quality.  Maybe again it is just a result of the dilution factor, but I figure it could also be due to a greater degree of aeration from the shaking.


Top 200 Contributor
Posts 9

Hi there,

I agree about the mouthfeel.  I find that a shaken Martini feels flatter and closed on the palate.

What I find curious is that from a scientific angle, it should be the opposite.  The greater the amount of air that is suspended into the liquid, the smoother it should feel in your mouth, this is one of the reaons that sours with egg white taste so silky.  (Yes. part is the silky texture of the egg..)

Has anyone got any explanations as to why a shaken martini, if it is shaken to a very similar dilution and temperature, tastes so different from a stirred martini?  Is it a case of the shaken is that degree or two colder and so hides its flavours that little bit more?



Top 75 Contributor
Posts 35

Actually, from a scientific angle the more air you incorporate into a liquid, the lower the viscosity. This translates into that "flatter" or thin feeling.

Egg whites feel silky because of the egg proteins. If you gulp down a raw egg white without shaking it stays as a viscous dense mass. When you shake the egg white you are breaking it up the proteins and mixing in air and lowering the viscosity. The entrapped air decreases the density also, which obviously makes things feel lighter, which they are.

As for taste difference, that may depend on whether you have a sip right after shaking when there is air still entrapped in the liquid. But even after a period of time there will still be air in the liquid from shaking, even though you can't see it.

Darcy S. O'Neil
Art of Drink

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