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By Block Ice | August 16, 2023

As passionate purveyors of premium craft ice, we’ve always been intrigued by the rituals and techniques bartenders employ, especially when it comes to the delicate act of stirring. But why is this simple action so crucial in the world of mixology? Uncover the secrets behind stirring, learn techniques, and understand the key role of different types of ice.

The Philosophy Behind Stirring

As with many things in bartending and cocktail culture, stirring is a ritual. It’s a bartender’s way of introducing each ingredient to the other, ensuring they meld seamlessly. But there’s more to it than just mixing. Stirring serves to chill the drink, dilute it to the right consistency, and ensure a uniform flavor from the first sip to the last. People have probably heard the common “Shaken not stirred” line made famous by James Bond films. Shaking is used to introduce air and can cloud a drink. This can help change the drink’s texture and cool it, sometimes leaving ice crystals and adding more texture. Shaking helps with cocktails like margaritas, daiquiri, or martinis. On the other hand, stirring is a gentler technique, preserving the clarity and integrity of spirit-forward cocktails such as an old-fashioned, negroni, or Manhattan.

Mastering the Technique: The Best Way to Stir

Stirring a cocktail is an art that requires patience, precision, and practice. Here’s a deeper dive into the technique:

  1. Preparation: Before you begin, ensure your mixing glass or stirring pitcher is well-chilled. This helps achieve the desired temperature faster and maintains the drink’s chill for longer.
  2. Ingredients First: Pour your liquors and mixers into the glass. Only then should you introduce the ice, filling the glass about two-thirds full.
  3. The Iconic Bar Spoon: The bar spoon is your wand. Hold it gracefully between your thumb and the first two fingers, letting the shaft rest between your middle and ring finger. The spoon should glide inside the glass, barely touching its edges.
  4. The Stir: The motion should be fluid and rhythmic. Imagine the hands of a clock, moving steadily. Aim for at least 50 revolutions over 30-45 seconds. This ensures optimal dilution and temperature.

The Final Touch: Strain the drink into a chilled glass over fresh ice, chosen specifically for that cocktail, and enjoy!

Choosing the Right Ice

The choice of ice can make or break your cocktail. Here’s a deeper look into the world of ice:

  • The Block: The Block is the perfect choice for any spirit-forward drink. The cube’s size ensures that it melts slowly, providing consistent chilling with minimal dilution. Stir these into drinks like your Manhattan or old-fashioned.
  • The Baby Block: Though they may be but babies, they are fierce! They offer a balanced dilution rate, making them suitable for a wide range of cocktails. Chuck a few of these in your margaritas or gin and tonic.
  • Crushed Ice: This ice is all about surface area. While not typically the first choice for stirred drinks, crushed ice is perfect for drinks that need rapid chilling and a touch more dilution. Throw these in your mules or mint juleps.

Stirring is more than a mere action; it’s a blend of precision, technique, and passion. So, the next time you find yourself lost in the mesmerizing swirl of a stirred cocktail, remember the art and science behind it. And if you ever feel the need to elevate your drinks with the finest craft ice, Block Ice is here for you. You can check out our best blocks to stir here. Here’s to perfectly stirred drinks and the stories they help tell. Cheers!