The 'Boston' Cocktail Shaker
Frederic Tudor, an innovative individual from Boston in North America was harvesting ice from the Lakes of Massachusetts and shipping to warmer climates as an enterprising initiative in the first decade of the 19th century. His entrepreneurial business concept was widely met with ridicule. The headline caption was “No Joke” cried the Boston Gazette in February 1806.
“A vessel with cargo of ice has cleared out from the port of Martinique. We hope this will not prove to be a slipper speculation”.
While the newspaper headlines all mocked Tudors’ business acumen, he had shrewdly recognised that ice was a sought-after luxury in many states outside of New England. In the following decades, ice became a much-wanted staple in the higher echelons of society. From the 1840s, ice was becoming a frequent commonplace, changing the way society would mix drinks for ever. In said decade, a block of ice was put on display in a shop window in the Strand in London, where many Londoners looked un in amazement and curiosity, according to a New Englander who wrote home to a friend. Just consider that this was about 20 years before the American Civil War in 1861, to give you a timeline in history.
Cocktail recipes had been meek in innovation per say. Some spirits, a dash of sugar, maybe some bitters and water, if the bar tender was to go all out.
On the discovery of the humble ice, drinks started to become more sophisticated according to a quote reference from Agostino Perrone, a master mixologist, at the prestigious Connaught Hotel in London’s Mayfair.
Ice suddenly had the dual purpose of chilling the drink, and allowing the mixing process to be more efficient. In today’s culture we would even push those limitations with ice balls, monster whiskey squares and even crushed ice.
As time evolved right up to the present day, cocktails have become increasingly fancy or some might say decadent, with ingredients like, fruits, egg whites, bell jars and smoking kits, spices, herbs and tree barks. A once sweet cocktail will now have a savoury counterpart and in its earliest form from the mid-19th century, the “Boston” was manifested in the form of two vessels jammed together to reveal a shaker contraption of sorts. Right up to present day, it is the shaker of choice for long drinks.
Spice Blends for Cocktails
Most households seem to have a” Boston shaker” and these days, you can buy a quality cocktail shaker for relatively cheap. However according to tips and recommendations from the celebrated mixologist Agostino Perrone, there are several things to consider to be a mixologist pro in the homestead.
- Ideally you should buy the cocktail shakers that have two metal tins/vessels rather than the metal and glass version. The double metal chills the drink better and there is less of a risk of breakages. The beverage ingredients should always go in the smaller tin and the ice should always go in the larger tin filling it up by two thirds.
- Make it secure. You don’t want any mishaps. Pour the cocktail beverage over the ice, fitting the smaller of the two tins inside the larger tin. The tins should line up on one side and form a crescent moon shape cavity on the opposite side.
- Give the top vessel a slap with vigour, making sure its sealed. Grip the bottom half with the left hand, placing your index and middle finger on the base with thumb and other fingers supporting. Hold the top half in your right hand, with right hand thumb on top and other fingers supporting.
- Hold the shaker on its side, horizontally, straight edge down. This is where the flamboyant notions can come alive. Shake in a figure of eight motion. This is to ensure that you don’t smash the ice and therefore dilute the drink. If you have an audience in front of you, try not to showboat like a dolphin. Shake away from them. Keep shaking until the vessels become so cold that you have to stop. In order to open, the secret is to bang the side with the crescent-moon gap against a counter top. Always grasp the upper vessel with an index finger on the other side to prevent the upper tin from flying off.
- Finally, a kaleidoscope of deliciousness is curated. Custom a Hawthorne strainer to retain the ice to serve the drink.
The Hawthorne strainer is that curious disk apparatus with a spring attached to the circumference, typically at the end of a long handle. Like everything there is a correct way to hold a Hawthorne strainer. Sit the strainer, spring side down into the tin and hold the tin in one hand and hook your index finger over the top of the strainer, with the handle facing towards your chest and pour. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back and enjoy your sublime creation. If the above is too brain challenging, then watch a YouTube video or get inspired by Agostino Perrone videos over on Instagram. N.B. Various references have come from the GQ book, "How to win at life"