The Art of Mixology: Cocktail Making Techniques

In purely technical terms, making a cocktail doesn’t seem complicated. Just take a glass and pour a couple of ingredients into it. Everyone seems to be able to cope with the task. But a good cocktail is a careful balance between light and strong, strong and weak, sour and sweet. The art of mixology in all its glory! A true professional not only blends and mixes alcohol, but also creates a mini-masterpiece. And he is sure to know the basic methods of making cocktails. Let’s understand what these methods are and how they differ from each other.

Cocktail Preparation Methods


The Shake technique is the most commonly used in practice, if compared to other techniques. Everything is clear: the drink is made with a shaker. This method allows for combining and high quality mixing of ingredients which are difficult to be “manually” distributed throughout the drink, such as liqueur, sweet syrups, and egg white. Also, using a shaker helps to enrich the cocktail with oxygen, so that it tastes even better. But it is never used to mix fizzy drinks.

The Shake method has its own varieties:

  • Long Shake. This is a long shake. This technique is used extensively when the recipe contains pieces of fruit and even whole berries, spices, and herbs. The drink will have an excellent taste only if you shake it for a long time.
  • Dry Shake. This technology allows you to make a thick cocktail with a smooth, delicate texture. No ice is used. This technique is extremely useful if the drink contains eggs, milk or cream. Many professionals additionally dip a Hawthorne Spring Stainer into the shaker, which acts as a whisk in the mixing process.
  • Hard shake. In this case, a cocktail is still being shaken in a shaker during the necessary time, but the bartender’s movements are much more intensive. This method is used when fresh ice from the ice-maker is poured into the shaker because its temperature is too low for the drink.

The Shake method has 2 basic ways of mixing the ingredients:

Fine Strain technique

The bartender additionally uses a special fine-strain sieve in his work. This is the basis for the name of the technique. The technology is as follows: first the drink is whipped, and then strained to remove the small particles of fruit and ice from the composition. The result is a perfectly “clean” cocktail.

The Shaking technique

The idea is not only to chop and mix the ingredients, but also to dilute the ready drink in the right way. And here it is important to strictly observe the proportions and the very technique of combining the ingredients, so that the cocktail does not lose the “conceived” taste. It is customary to fill the shaker glass with ice first, and then pour the alcohol – from less to stronger.


It is considered that the methodology of Stir cocktails is the most elegant. The bartender takes a precooled mixing glass, fills it two-thirds full with ingredients and ice. Then a special spoon is used to gently mix the ingredients. The ready drink is filtered and served to the customer. At the same time, the ice remains in the glass. Despite the fact that it is not used, the cocktail is still obtained cold.

The Stir technique is extremely useful when you want to make a drink with more than 3 ingredients which do not need to be actively stirred. These are mainly cocktails of spirits and wines. The technique is also used when the lack of ice makes the drink tastier and brighter.

The mixing time of a cocktail depends on many factors – the initial temperature of the ingredients, the size of the ice cubes, the size of the mixing glass. Many bartenders use the rule of thumb – make 30 full turns with a spoon around the circumference of the glass.


The Build technique seems extremely simple in theory – ingredients are poured directly into the glass. No additional tools or “complicated” instruments are used. And in a number of cases, this is more than justified. For example, it is not allowed to stir cocktails with carbonated drinks in the composition – carbon dioxide will “evaporate” and the drink will lose flavor.

Sometimes the Build technique is used at the final stage of making a cocktail – when you want to top it off with a soda already in the glass or decorate it with a flavoring ingredient on top.

But no matter how simple it all seems, there are serious nuances, which depend on a particular kind of Build technique.
The Building technique.

This technique is used when it is necessary to prepare a drink from ingredients that do not require thorough mixing – strong alcohol, wine, water, juices. Bartender does not need to take a shaker, components are perfectly “combined” into an unsurpassed drink.

The essence of the cocktails making method is to pour alcohol in a glass according to a recipe and then mix it with a bar spoon. The drink is usually served with a cocktail stick, a swizzle stick. And it is not a decoration at all, as one might think. It is a way of periodically stirring the cocktail while drinking to “refresh” its taste.

The Layering Technique

This is the layering of ingredients, one on top of the other, directly in the glass. The components, because they differ in density, do not mix, allowing you to enjoy the original, vibrant cocktail.

These drinks, which consist of separate layers, are usually called Pousse-cafe. And to make them, the bartender must know everything about the density of the alcohol, which depends on its sugar content.

The Muddling technique

When there are fresh fruits or herbs in the recipe, it is better to mashed potato them before using them to enhance the taste of the drink. This is the Muddling technique. Then the flavor components are “diluted” with ice and alcohol.

The main tool of the bartender in this case is a pestle.

The Flaming technique

“Flaming” adds a certain charm to the cocktail. This is the Flaming technique. It has little effect on the taste of the drink, but it is better to drink it quickly, otherwise all the alcohol “evaporates.


Cocktails using the Blend technique are made with a blender. This blender can easily blend even the hard ingredients present in the recipe. As a rule, the technique is used for thick drinks with fruit – for example, smoothies. The method is also effective for Frozen cocktail recipes. If you combine ice and various fillings in a blender bowl and then grind it all up, you get a tasty “snowy” mass – it looks spectacular.

Bartending is a very interesting profession. The basic rules of bartending haven’t changed for many years. They are very simple and easy to learn.

Cocktail making courses are suitable for those who have never encountered the profession of bartending, but would like to learn it or just learn how to make drinks at home for their family, friends and colleagues at any corporate party. We also invite those who want to improve their skills, learn new recipes and new tricks to be not just a professional bartender, but a successful one, to our drink making courses. Our classes can be used as refresher and retraining courses. We will teach you everything we know ourselves.

July 2023