My Turn in the Barrel

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Hey, here’s a fun way to illustrate karma. If you’ve, say, built a large web presence upon a not-so-generous string of public criticisms of bar-related web videos [1, 2, 3, 4], then one day somebody will ask you to appear in a series of videos yourself.

That’s what happened last month when Imbibe Magazine called me up and stuck it to me by asking that I appear in some instructional videos for their new website. And like a rabbit to a carrot I leapt at the big, bright, orange opportunity called fame.

So grab yourself a scorecard and sit back, relax, and count the screw-ups as I try to demonstrate the difference between shaking and stirring a cocktail.

57 Replies to “My Turn in the Barrel”

  • Johnny says:

    My favorite sidecar I’ve ever had is
    2 oz Brandy
    1 oz Cointreau
    Splash of Lemon Juice
    Splash of Orange Juice

  • formulaben says:

    Jeff, the people have spoken, we need to see you wipe/pick your nose in the next video. How else will we know you are a pro?!


    Seriously though, keep up the great work, you’re awesome!

  • Ivana – Thanks! The Sidecar recipe I use is:

    2 oz cognac
    1 oz Cointreau
    ¾ oz lemon juice

  • Ivana says:

    Great video, good explanation! Good looks :)))

    One question: What ratio of ingredients do you use in your sidecar?

  • Walt says:

    Great job all the way around. But at my age that proper shaking technique is wrecking my shoulder!

  • Thomas Smith says:

    I miss my bartender! Great video. Now I gotta run, I need a drink!

  • Smach says:

    Might I recommend something mesh for the next video? And black lights, you NEED black lights! Back-up dancers? Back-up Shake Dancers!

  • Rick says:


    Everything about this video is excellent. Your technique is impeccable.

    I hope this series continues into the far future. Cheers!

  • Garretto says:

    Is it a coincidence? Today Jamie Boudreau posted a shaking-how-to video on the Small Screen Network.
    He only covered how to use a Boston Shaker —the banana coupling of the glass and tin, and where exactly to tap it for easy separation. Both points I had not considered and my shaker will be happy when I skip the usual beating next round.
    Very good tips actually, coupled with your lengthier, more encompassing video the novice has the complete works of Shakesphere.
    (sorry). Anyway, your both great sources; did you guys work this out together?

  • Mark says:

    Very nice video – well done!

    Regarding shaken cocktails on a side note. I like to shake ’til there’s frost on the outside and I can’t take the cold. My three-year old son is well-trained in that when he hears the shaker going he’ll run in to lick the bottom of the tin. A little gross if he’s in the middle of eating something but what can you do.

    I can’t wait ’til he’s tall enough to see over the bar so I can get him to fix me my cocktails – on the other hand, to paraphrase Steve Allen, Never let children mix your cocktails; they use too much vermouth and it’s unseemly.

  • Jill says:

    Hi Jeffrey,
    Being a total cocktail novice (but with a high level of appreciation) I thought your video was great- clear, to the point, and effective- quite unlike the cachaca video you “highlighted” earlier. Well done!

  • John Claude says:


    The shaken Manhattan would look like the sidecar with a slightly different hue and vice versa.

  • Jonathan B. says:

    Job well done. Am I delusional or is there a Bobby Flay vibe and look (sans new york irish accent) to our friend Jeffery in this 3 minute and 44 second jem?

    I mean this as a compliment (one hopes).

  • Brian Rea says:

    Jeffrey, very stylish, very fine basic info, especially with the double strain. Eons ago when I tended bar,
    we rimmed the Sidecar glass with a blend of sugar
    and coarse salt, which did add another dementia to that FINE cocktail. You have made me quite thirsty,
    so I shall have an adult beverage!

  • Rafe says:

    Nice presentation. I agree with Garretto, Robert has some competition!

    Being an exacting viewer, though, it would have been nice to see you illustrate in parallel what a shaken Manhattan would look like (or a stirred Sidecar). This would give a clear example of what the cocktail looks like when prepared incorrectly.

  • Garretto says:

    Bravo! Look out Drinkboy!
    Will you be posting all your Imbibe videos here?
    After reading you’re articles and stealing your recipes for months now, it’s great to see you in action. That Sidecar has me aching to get out of the office and make one. I shall, and I’ll even apply the double-strain, which I have never done.

  • ND says:

    I’ve always wondered about the thing of stirring in the mixing glass, though. I mean, steel is a conductor, and glass is a bit of an insulator, so in theory you should be able to get the drink colder faster by stirring in the tin, correct? Are drinks mixed in the glass for aesthetics only, or is there another reason?

  • John Claude says:

    Yeah, I will get the patrons who want me to as one person put it “shake it to death and then shake it some more”. It’s their martini, I just die a little inside, but with a smile on my face. Rarely will anyone preface the order with a stir or shake preference though.

  • Excellent explanation, and count me in as one of your viewers who is now inexplicably thirsty.

  • Tokyo Tea says:

    Totally agree fellas. Possibly due to its extremely light translusiveness (bar grammar?)and the fact that I rarely use more than a 1/4 oz. I follow the same suit but preference of the patron is always a priority too with me Blair.

  • Tokyo,

    Since a well made martini should always be stirred, I’ve always stirred when using brine. Granted, it is a bit of a cloudy addition (like juice), so if using in something like a tequila based drink, you could probably safely shake away. It really all comes down to preference.


  • John Claude says:


    I definitely still stir dirty martinis. I guess I can’t really give you a reason why, but it’s just how I feel it should be done.

  • Tokyo Tea says:

    I definitely need to be spending more on clothing and less on bad habits. Was curious as to how you feel about olive juice? I’ve polled a few of the bartenders I trust around here as to their take on stirring or shaking dirty martinis with varied responses. Anyone have strong opinions on this either way?

  • Jeff Frane says:

    I noticed that you did not put a rim of sugar on the Sidecar, for which I applaud you. Clap clap clap.

    Nicely-done video, although I could swear your voice is deeper in person. Maybe it’s the tight vest . . .

  • Karama Billick says:

    Perfect as always Jeff,
    It was great to see you, even if just in video. Makes me want to drive 2 hrs. to Ptld. Just to watch you shake a cocktail!

    but.. you did make drinks that were easy to pronounce:-)

  • jerdawg says:

    well done jeff! smooth and classy, just like the drinks…;-)

  • Jeremy says:

    Not only was this a fine video, I appreciated the editing job done; no dead air, or mindless banter trying to fill the dead air and saying something stupid (and wrong).

    It gave me a better appreciation of stirring, I confess that I shake way too many of my drinks.

    /me goes to find one of those neat stirrers for home.

    /me also wants a sidecar too.

  • Jon Hughes says:

    Awesome stuff – clear explanation, drinks look fantastic. Liked your aside about shaking; I’m always amazed how much effort it takes to get new bar staff to move the shaker rather than holding it still and moving their entire body.

    Great shaking face too!

  • Matt Schacht says:

    What was that yellow thing that you squeeezed into the sidecar? Is it related to a lime? I’ve heard of those being common in times past, but not used by today’s futuristic peoples.

  • Ross says:

    Smartly done, sir. Man, you weren’t kidding about shaking the everloving bajeesus out of your drinks!

    I feel I’ve learned something today: you can still look snappy in a tie and vest even with a short-sleeved shirt! (I may have learned a thing or two about chilling drinks, too.)

  • ND says:

    Awesome, awesome stuff to blow my precious bandwidth on. Thank you.

    On a side note, it’s good to see that you add lots of ice, like America (you could also try giving a little wink when you name the drinks).

  • Siobhan says:

    You make us so proud, Jeff. I knew you were in front of the camera-ready from the first time I came to see you in action in Eugene a couple years ago.

    Watching you build a drink is seriously an art. I am just mad I have a few months until my next Manhattan; during the process, watching Manhattan after Manhattan—it was torture for a pregnant woman!!

  • Jac says:

    It was… okay, I guess.

    But when you don’t pick your nose, mispronounce the drink names or use the simple syrup bottle when pouring your base spirit, it’s just not as fun.

  • Matt Lanning says:

    JM, a fine presentation as always! And your friends would always be the ones to bust your chops if you had blown it on video… no such luck! hope to see you in the PDX soon…

  • chuck says:

    I just got my email from Imbibe:

    Introducing the Imbibe Sips Video Series!
    We’re thrilled to announce the debut of our highly anticipated Imbibe Sips video series, a fun and interactive look at the techniques, tips and recipes we share in every issue of the magazine. The premiere episode, sponsored by Tuaca Italian liqueur, features bartender extraordinaire Jeffrey Morgenthaler covering the principles behind shaking versus stirring cocktails.

    Imbibe Sips video clip
    Jeff will be appearing in other upcoming episodes, and you can look forward to new episodes every couple of weeks. You can watch the series on our website or subscribe to our videos on or YouTube. We’ll also be on iTunes soon, and we’ll be sure to announce the podcast on our blog. In the meantime, if you have any topics you’d like to see covered in future episodes, e-mail us with your suggestions.

    Very nice video sir

  • mike ryan says:

    oh man, rittenhouse and carpano…tasty stuff, sir.

  • Aw, thanks for making me blush, Sara.

  • Sara says:

    You are far too hard on yourself — that was great! Smart and fun to watch. And you managed to look hot even without your usual crop top.

  • John Claude says:

    Very nice, Jeffrey. I’d suggest a signature outfit like Robert or Jamie. Maybe a nice party dress?

    I see way too many bartenders doing the limp wristed up and down shaking. You might as well have a sten talk with the drink to mix it. The only things that scares me more is a bartender who shakes vigorously with the glass facing the customers. I saw that go awry once. You can only imagine.

    And Nathan, the drink is going to get just as cold with the ice added post liquid. It’s especially handy if you’re building multiple cocktails at the bar at the same time. Imagine how watered down drink number five will be by the time you get around to shaking/stirring it. My order of making things when spitting out an order is Wine -> Cocktails -> Beer to keep them all as fresh as possible. Beer on the end so it doesn’t go flat and it only takes a couple seconds anyway so it’s not like your cocktails will go warm in that time. Wine first so it can breathe.

  • Nathan – I find that it is best to add all ingredients to the mixing glass ‘dry’ – or without ice – to minimize melting as you build the cocktail. Sure, you’re giving the drink more time to chill – I guess – but what you’re really doing is introducing a whole bunch of melted ice into the drink and therefore watering it down.

  • Jessica Roberts says:

    Hey, you use the little Oxo Good Grips measuring cups too? I love them! Last year I gave them to everybody as stocking stuffers.

  • Nathan says:

    When making a stirred cocktail I always add the ice to the glass first, then pour in the room-temperature ingredients before the refrigerated stuff. This way the cocktail has just that much more time to chill. Or am I fooling myself?

  • Mata says:

    Love it! But have to admit I was cracking up the entire 3 minutes – such the serious bar tender! Guess I only know you outside of the bar when we were “kids” so this grown up Jeff – whoa! Very cool, very impressed! Big kiss!

  • Andy Stewart says:

    I’m sorely disappointed.

    No sour mix, measured spirits as opposed to splashes, no cleavege…

    You’ve let us down man.

    I demand you redo it and make a Wet Pussy whilst wearing a muscle T.

  • Luke says:

    Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

  • Blair – It’s an Amarena cherry I’ve left to soak in brandy and maraschino liqueur for two months.

  • Where did the cherry in the Manhattan come from? Inquiring minds want to know…

  • Aw, thanks, everyone. And I’ll try to show a little more skin on the next one. Just be careful of what you wish for…

  • Steve Raye says:

    Excellent explanation, (can I have your autograph.)

  • sku says:

    I agree with Eugenia. Also, not enough cleavage…you’re never going to make it as a YouTube bartender all covered up like that.

  • 2:1 Manhattan! Sweet!

  • Chris says:

    Jeffrey – It may be too early in the morning, but I thought that it sounded clear and concise! I sure could go for a sidecar now. Bravo, sir.


  • Great job! I personally like to stir with the disc end of the spoon. Seems to work better for me.


  • Eugenia says:

    But where’s the sour mix? I don’t understand. And you didn’t wipe your nose. C’mon, Jeff. (It was good to “see” you!)

  • Heath Hutto says:

    So that’s the new bar, eh? Looks decent enough for being in foreign parts.

    Enjoyed the video!

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