Dear Bartender (Advice To The Cocktail-Lorn)

For our inaugural column, our first “Dear Bartender” is Daniel Hilton from Sydney’s Lobo Plantation answering questions on stirring, Amaretto & more

By: Tiff Christie|May 8,2020

How long do I need to stir a cocktail? – Sophie

I love this question because I used to ask this when I first started bartending, you hear stories of martini’s being stirred 14 times, or stirred counterclockwise only and it can get pretty confusing. In reality, from cocktail  to cocktail, you’re going to have to tailor your timing as it all comes down to dilution!


Essentially what you’re wanting to do is stir your cocktail down to the point you can feel the alcohol in the middle of your tongue. A wetter or dirtier martini will have more low to ABV wet ingredients in it, therefore finding its fairly diluted before you’ve even started, Whereas an Old Fashioned is straight up booze needing more attention. When you add in factors like ice quality, the vigour in which you stir, the booze temperature and more, it’s going to be a trial and error until you get a feel for it, cocktail parties are a great way to figure this out!

Side note, the better quality your ice is, the more control you will have on your rate of dilution. Ice produced by your fridge, in your freezer cube trays  or store bought will likely melt really quickly, grab yourself some larger ice moulds for your freezer (3 – 4cm cubes) to slow the rate of dilution down as they have a greater surface area giving you more control.

Like the rest of the internet I watched Stanley Tucci get his Negroni game going. I was interested to see him give the cocktail a shake prior to the pour. I’ve not experienced this before. Is this a thing or a localised version? – Craig

It’s definitely feels more like a personalised preference that a local flavour or style, simply judging by the ratios he’s used (think of it like a shaken martini). Stanley may have seen it done (wrong) at a bar once or may have mistaken a Shakerato (Campari shaken over ice) being made for a Negroni. Either way we look at it, it’s just how the man likes to drink his negroni and that’s alright by me!

I was going to make a recipe that has Amaretto in it, can I just use any Amaro? – Matthew

Whilst you’re more than likely going to end up with some splendid results, Amaretto is very different to the Amaro family. Amaretto, meaning Little Bitter, is traditionally made with apricot and peach stones as well as almonds, producing a sweet floral and nutty liqueur . It brings its own unique flavour into the fold which is what that cocktail is more often than not asking for.


Amaro’s, generally being more bitter, will substitute fairly well into most Amaretto cocktails however will deliver a completely different product, especially considering the diversity of flavour in this category.

Is it safe to consume egg white in cocktails? – Susan

This will all depend on where you get your eggs from, modern practices have us vaccinating our chooks from salmonella, minimising the risk of catching it ourselves. This shouldn’t be taken lightly as the shell still poses a risk, ensuring the shell is clean before cracking, and being aware of the shell prevent cross contamination, further protecting our health.

It goes without saying that fresher is better, the albumen protein in egg white is what you’re after and the longer you leave it the less you’ll have to work with as the protein deteriorates over time.

I want to buy a cocktail shaker, which one should I get? – Luke

For home use you can use whatever fits your style or preference! For simplicity and ease I’d go a 3 piece cobbler shaker. They have a in built strainer and are quite often decorated to add a bit of flair to your cocktail cart/home decor. If you want something a little more sleek however I personally enjoy a Parisienne at home, a two piece shaker that fits well with my style of shaking (and they look super sexy).


If you have questions about cocktails, spirits, liqueurs or anything else, drop us a line at (with the subject line ‘advice’)

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Dear Bartender (Advice To The Cocktail-Lorn)

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