Master the Cocktail Shaker With 5 Classic Cocktails

Categories Lifestyle


The cocktail shaker is far harder to learn than the maracas, but don’t let that put you off mastering these five classic cocktails.

There comes a time in every man’s life when he’ll be called upon to display his skill with a cocktail shaker. It may look like a simple, unassuming piece of paraphernalia but it’s actually a bloody tricky thing to use properly, even for the experienced mixologist.

The secret to looking like you’ve done it a thousand times before is confidence.

Cocktails are great party banter and everyone is an expert…apparently. Being able to make a sublime martini is one thing but being able to throw in some useless (but accurate) information about the drink will take you from zero to hero in a flash.

So when the time arises (and it will), here are the five cocktails that will get you out of any situation (and perhaps into another).


Any self-respecting gentleman not only knows how to make a martini but he also enjoys them. A bon vivant never, ever drinks a martini to look cool; he drinks it because it’s a statement, a work of art that is made with love and precision. Sadly, no other cocktail in history has been bastardised in the way the poor ol’ martini has. No matter, the classic still has iconic status and unparalleled popularity around the world.

Fill a mixing glass with cubed ice. Add 15mL dry vermouth. Stir briefly and strain off the excess vermouth using a Hawthorn strainer. Add a big swig of cold gin and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with two stuffed green olives.

Shaking a martini doesn’t “bruise” the gin like many claim. It simply aerates the spirit, which gives the drink a different texture and waters it down significantly.


The bloody mary is revered around the world for its restorative properties after a night on the sauce, so if you find yourself waking up next to Charlize Theron (and it’s a “home game”, so to speak), then you’ll be well prepared to freak her out with your mixology skills. That said, never let your pantry be without a can of tomato juice, some lemons, celery salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Just in case.

To a cocktail shaker add a double shot (60mL) of vodka, the juice of half a lemon, a few dashes each of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, a pinch each of celery salt and cracked pepper and tomato juice. Shake and strain over ice into a tall glass. Garnish with a celery stick.

The bloody mary was invented at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s; it was originally called the red snapper and made with gin, not vodka.


People either love or hate the margarita, maybe because tequila is still the devil in many people’s eyes after they’ve been burnt by poor-quality brands. There are many stories surrounding the margarita’s origins but most put it around the 1940s in Mexico. However, under no circumstances should you ever request, make, suggest or, God forbid, drink a frozen margarita.

Shake equal parts tequila, Cointreau and fresh lemon and/or lime juice. Strain into a glass rimmed with salt.

Always use quality tequila. Anything with a plastic sombrero on the top doesn’t qualify.



The cocktail of choice for every Tom, Dick and Harry in Brazil is made using their national spirit — cachaca, a crude form of local rum.

The caipirinha (pronounced kye-purr-een-yah) has become extremely hip in cocktail bars everywhere from Rio to Shropshire.

Cut a lime into sixteenths and place the chunks in a solid-based tumbler. Add 2 – 3 teaspoons of raw sugar, a dash of sugar syrup and a dash of fresh lemon juice. Crush using a muddling stick until almost a paste and add cachaca (at least 5omL), some crushed ice and stir well. Add some more crushed ice and serve.

USEFUL/USELESS INFORMATION: Caipirinha roughly translates as “peasant’s drink”. In Brazil they use limones, a hybrid of lemons and limes.


Before you start yawning at the thought of yet another bloody cosmopolitan the sad truth is very few look and taste the way they should. That chick from Sex and the City certainly has a lot to answer for. When made properly, it should have a light pink hue — not bright red — and have a sharp citrus bite. It shouldn’t taste like a glass of fancy cranberry juice, which many do.

Shake 40mL citrus vodka (such as Absolut Citron), 20mL orange liqueur (such as Cointreau), 10mL fresh lime juice and 30mL cranberry juice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange zest.

USEFUL/USELESS INFORMATION: Tony Cecchini, a New York bartender and author of Cosmopolitan, claims he invented the drink in the mid-‘8os.