Ready to roll and throw your cocktails like a pro?
World Best Bar
Apr 06, 2022
10 January 2019
Once you’ve mastered shaking, stirring, and blending, it’s time to up the theatrics with rolling and its more advanced version, throwing.
You’ve seen these gestures performed at so many bars, but how do they work and what exactly do they do to your drink?
As a refresher, one generally shakes drinks containing egg white, citrus, or other non-alcoholic ingredients, while those containing all-alcohol ingredients are usually stirred.
Now, moving on to rolling. To roll a cocktail, you need two shaker tins and a hawthorne or julep strainer. Fill one tin a little over halfway with ice and secure it with your strainer of choice. Build your cocktail in the other tin, then pour it in the one with ice. Transfer the mix up to four times, then serve.
This technique is most commonly used when making a Bloody Mary as this is what gives it its creamy lusciousness: it is the most effective way to mix and chill your concoction without thinning the tomato juice. It is also the best technique to avoid pressurizing carbonated mixes through shaking, or flattening them through stirring.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of rolling, it’s time to move on to throwing.
This technique is believed to have been imported from Spain in the nineteenth century, when cocktail shakers weren’t yet invented. While American bartenders first popularized it, it was more for the flair and showmanship side of things than for its practicality. The technique was then embraced and actually perfected in Cuba, where skillful Cuban cantineros revolutionized the art of cocktail-making for generations to come. Because besides upping the drama factor, throwing has a real, actual impact on a cocktail’s flavor, viscosity, and overall appeal.
Here, the distance between the tins is emphasized: one can be as high as your head while the other can be as low as knee-level. The mix can also be transferred from one tin to the other a few more times than with rolling (usually 8 to 10 times). As the mix is suspended in mid-air for a few moments before hitting the bottom of the other tin, this technique is a great way to add oxygen to your drink, aerating it without agitating it, and to control its dilution, as you see the cocktail expanding in real time at each throw. All this not only shapes the texture and body of your drink, giving it an incredible mouthfeel, but also releases certain ingredients’ aromatics that wouldn’t have expressed themselves as well otherwise — which makes it great for drinks containing wine elements such as sherry or vermouth, like the Cuban classic El Presidente.
Now this can be a quite messy method. Even once you’ve got the coordination down, you still need to learn how to control the flow. Start practicing with a mixture of one ounce of simple syrup to two ounces of water (to replicate the consistency of a cocktail mix), then work yourself up to actual cocktails.