The key to a great drink is all in the preparation. Use these guidelines to ensure you get things right—no matter what type of cocktail—every time you pour.
If the cocktail you’re making contains citrus, fruit juice, or dairy, it should always be made in a shaker. Pour the ingredients over as much ice as you can pack in the cup and shake until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty. Then strain and serve.
For all other cocktails, the ideal prep is stirring, not shaking. You want minimal dilution of spirits. But don’t just dunk a spoon in the glass and swirl it around. Stir rapidly and silently, keeping the ice from jumping around and adding air to your drink. Use a long-handled bar spoon and move it quickly around the glass’ exterior, hugging the outside edges. The motion should come from your fingers and wrist, not your forearm.
Most bartenders rack up at least 30 rotations using a chilled spoon before serving any drink.